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80 Days Podcast

80 Days Podcast

‌It’s Sunday morning; Mark Boyle is awake early in Surrey, England, Joe Byrne is in Bern, Switzerland and it is the evening time in Hong Kongwhere Luke Kelly has initiated the Skype call. They all press ‘record’ and start talking – this is how an episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast is made. Each week, they publish a light but informative episode about some lesser-known country in the world.

80 Days is a project of three self-professed “history and geography nerds” who have found a unique way of exploring the world together, despite each having emigrated to a different corner of it. The three met in Maynooth University in 2007 and were all involved in drama. Luke, from Wexford, earned a degree in media studies, and so was well placed to suggest they try a medium as technical as podcasting. It involves in-depth research, a skill all three have learned in their academic or professional lives, sound editing, syndication and promotion.               

All of the co-hosts have a real interest in history, geography and the world in general and, like so many of their generation, are clearly fans of travelling too. Between them, they have covered about half of the globe and love to share interesting anecdotes about lesser-known people and places they have come across; these stories punctuate their meticulously researched, yet easy-listening, episodes.

80 Days Podcast _ Creators Joe Byrne, Luke Kelly and Mark Boyle.

The idea for the podcast was born towards the end of 2015, when both Mark (from Kerry) and Joe (from Kildare) visited Luke in Hong Kong on work trips, but missed each other by a week – the three friends unfortunately haven’t actually all been in the same location in more than two years. They did a lot of exploring and chatted about it and how it was a pity they hadn’t explored together. For a long time, they had been looking for creative ways of staying in touch and continuing to work on projects together. A podcast about far-flung parts of the world seemed to fit the bill. With friends scattered all over the world, it was a good excuse to reach out and learn more about different countries. The concept took shape naturally from that original idea.

The name of the podcast is inspired by Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days, but in contrast to the plot of that adventure novel, the three are in no rush to circumnavigate. They are telling the stories of the world, one country, territory or city at a time. Each episode runs at about an hour and they have just finished their first season of 10 episodes touching on places as diverse as Namibia, the Isle of Man, Alaska, Brunei, Panama and the now-demolished Walled City of Kowloon (which was formerly in northern Hong Kong).

The feedback the podcast has gotten so far has been really positive and the hosts have enjoyed hearing from listeners in countries which they have researched. Usually locals are very complementary about the detail of their research and story-telling… but occasionally the pronunciation of names causes a few raised eyebrows! The three Irish men consider themselves curious amateurs, showing just how much of the world remains mysterious, and aim to bring far-flung places just a little closer to their listeners.

They hope the podcast will act as a starting point for peoples’ interest in various places, whetting their appetite and leaving the door open for listeners to learn more. They include detailed notes about each episode (including links to books, articles, podcasts and documentaries they used in their research) on their website for any explorer or students looking to delve deeper. But, importantly, the show is not a stuffy academic affair, it’s light-hearted and plays on the relationships between the three hosts to make for entertaining listening. They are always interested to hear from Irish people in far-flung places with unique stories to tell.


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