Moate-based Michael Jackson radio documentary up for PPI award

A RTÉ Radio One documentary giving an exclusive insight into Michael Jackson’s time in the Midlands has been shortlisted for one of this year’s PPI (Phonographic Performance Ireland ) Radio Awards.

The documentary which was aired last year revolves around Michael Jackson’s driver, Moate based taxi driver Ray O’Hara, who becamethe King of Pop’s chauffeur during his stay in the Midlands in 2006.

For nearly six months Ray found himself appointed as driver to Jackson when he came to live and record at Grouse Lodge studios.

“The first few days I was in shock. I kept looking in the mirror to be sure the guy in the back really was Michael Jackson,” said Ray.

This is the story of a humble cabbie thrown into exceptional circumstances but who rose to the challenge as he became not only driver but bodyguard to the biggest star on the planet.  

The two men would become friends as Ray, acting as Michael’s guide, brought him and his family to visit local play centres, bowling alleys, cinemas, and pubs.

The documentary interviewsmany of the other people Michael Jackson met during his stay in the Midlands where the anonymity he found allowed him to be a typical dad to his three children Prince Michael Junior (9 ), Paris (8 ), and Blanket (4 ). We hear also from Grouse Lodge owner Paddy Dunning on how, having survived a damaging court case, Michael settled into life in Westmeath, and how, his muse returned, he planned to move to Ireland.

When word of Michael’s presence in the Midlands leaked out, the loyalty of locals continued with farmers giving wrong directions to media arriving in Westmeath attempting to locate Grouse Lodge. Recorded in the Midlands during the summer of 2013, each story recounted in the documentary Michael Jackson’s Irish Driver seems more incredible than the last.  

The PPI winners will be announced on Friday October 3.

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