Echos of Ireland

An Ode to Toledo’s Former Irish Radio Show

Until December of last year, Toledoans had been able to get their fill of all things Ireland once a week from a local radio station broadcasting right in the heart of downtown. “Echos of Ireland: A Musical Tour of the 32 Counties in Ireland” aired for two hours on AM 1230 every Sunday morning from the WCWA building off Superior Street. 

The building, owned by IHeartRadio, is now in the process of being sold, which unfortunately has brought an abrupt end to many local radio shows that gave us a peek into different cultures that are in the foundation of Toledo, such as German, Polish, and, yes, Irish.

Two people shorten the road

For 28 years, John Connolly (above, left) co-ran the show with longtime friend Ted McHugh. Both men were born and raised in Ireland — Counties Limerick and Galway respectively— giving them a wealth of knowledge about Irish culture to share with local and international listeners. 

Sadly, in 2017 McHugh passed away, and the torch was passed along to his daughter, Molly. It was not the easiest of transitions, and Connolly admits that when he came back to the show after Ted McHugh’s passing, he wasn’t entirely sure what to talk about. Molly McHugh would call in often during that time, offering good conversation and her own knowledge of Ireland from when she attended college at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG). Eventually, she warmed to the idea of being on air and joined the show as a full-time co-host.


Though the name of the former show might fool some readers, showcasing Irish music was not the only thing “Echos of Ireland” presented. Any topic was up for debate and speculation, including Irish history, growing up in Ireland, geography, culture, sports, comical stories and anything currently trending across the pond. 

Besides featuring special guests on occasion, ranging from Irish music groups to interviews about a new beer, the hosts explained that they had their own Irish “correspondent.” Among their many international viewers was Connolly’s cousin from Limerick, who would call in and keep everyone up to date on Ireland. “No show was ever the same, and one of the unique parts was that we never really had a script,” said Molly McHugh.

This lack of a script is nothing new, stemming from the very start. “When the show started, Ted would come in and say ‘Anything you want to talk about?’ I would say ‘no’, and look at him and say, “Do you?” He would say ‘no’. Then we would say, “Let’s just wing it,” Connolly fondly remembered. They bounced their ideas off of one another, always knowing what the other would say.

The pair became friends back in the late 70’s when they met through mutual friends at Biddy Mulligan’s, the first bar Connolly opened. Back then on Sundays, Connolly would listen to the German hour radio show, and it gave him an idea. “The Germans have a show. The Polish have a show. Why don’t the Irish?” said Connolly. 

May the road rise up to meet you

It would come to pass shortly afterwards, when the pair decided Toledo was in sore need of someone to keep the Irish culture well and thriving. Three decades later, the show still kept to its original ideals of promoting everything Ireland.

Though this specific chapter of the radio show’s career has come to a close, ideas of continuing the show are not entirely off the table. Connolly and McHugh say that there is a potential for “Echos of Ireland” to continue in the future as a podcast. Updates can be found on their Facebook page or website,