Posts Tagged ‘RTE’

Review: Part two of The Limits of Liberty, RTÉ1

11 June 2010

Contributed by Adrian Grant

(Review of part two of The Limits of Liberty, broadcast on RTÉ 1, Tuesday 8 June, 10.15pm.)

The second instalment of The Limits of Liberty started off by looking at the massive project that was the construction of the Ardnacrusha hydro-electric dam in County Clare. Here, Ferriter rightly commended Cumann na nGaedheal for what was a great achievement. There was no mention of the striking workers on the scheme though. However, it appears that this second part of the programme had another axe to grind and Ardnacrusha was an excellent way to begin the programme. This was a symbol of a new Ireland, a self-governing Ireland that could compete on the world stage. Ardnacrusha provided the electricity for 87% of the national grid. Ferriter then gave the information that allowed the viewer a glimpse of where the film was going next. The national grid only covered 10% of the population. In 1945, only 2% of rural Ireland had electricity, at a time when Denmark had 85% coverage and the Netherlands 98%. Read More

Review: The Limits of Liberty on RTE 1

8 June 2010

Contributed by Adrian Grant

(Review of Part 1, broadcast Tuesday, 1 June, 10.15pm)

In a post on this website back in April I questioned the ability of RTE to make a decent historical documentary. However, I held out some hope that The Limits of Liberty would prove me wrong. The prospects for the series were good. Its subject matter is something that will stir the public consciousness at this time and it is co-written and presented by a competent historian. It sets out to show how successive Irish governments in the first decades of independence were preoccupied with the pursuit of centralised power. The first part of the series does not disappoint in this regard. There was no moralistic back slapping of the Cumann na nGaedheal government for its defence of democracy. Instead, Ferriter showed what is often lacking in mainstream historiography. Read more

Ireland’s Greatest?

2 April 2010

Contributed by Adrian Grant

RTE’s output of historical documentaries in recent years has been the subject of some discussion. ‘The Killings at Coolacrease’ (2007) and ‘If Lynch Had Invaded’ (2009) both stimulated a lot of discussion among historians and others alike. RTE is now asking ‘who do you think is the greatest Irish person ever?’ and has provided a shortlist of forty for the public to choose from. The five figures who receive the most votes will have hour-long documentaries produced about their lives before the public is asked to make the call on who was, or is, Ireland’s Greatest. We can also look forward to the fact that these five documentaries will be fronted by a ‘well-known personality’ who will interpret and champion their chosen figure. This is a very similar format to the 2002 BBC show “Great Britons” which was highly popular and notable here for its inclusion of two Irishmen, Bono and Bob Geldof. The two lads are included on the RTE list and there is a danger that Bono might disappear up his own arse if he wins. This is unlikely though since most Irish people don’t seem to like him very much. Read more

Twenty-five years of Morning Ireland

6 November 2009

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Morning Ireland‘We’re better craic when we’re poor’. Des Bishop, who arrived in Ireland just after Italia 90 and is now unofficial ambassador for the Irish language, on Ireland, now and then. Bishop appeared on RTÉ Radio 1 yesterday morning to discuss the last twenty-five years of Ireland’s history, the period since Morning Ireland began broadcasting on 5 November 1984; an era in which that institution that for many has become, to echo the words of one of a special live audience, ‘part of my morning fix every day’.

The tone of yesterday’s anniversary programme was of a return to those (insert the opposite of halcyon) days of the mid-1980s. In the first hour Richard Downes interviewed Mary McAleese, who emphasised the importance of the peace process, having a positive mental attitude and cutting her salary, and left us with the image of her running after her husband and children in the Áras switching off the lights. Diarmaid Ferriter and Noel Dorr chatted about the events of 1984, the IRA attempt to murder Margaret Thatcher at the Conservative Party conference in Brighton that occurred just before Morning Ireland’s first broadcasts, and the historic processes that followed and led eventually to the Good Friday agreement. But it was economics that dominated: Avoca (who came bearing cake) and Microsoft represented the business community; Ferriter and Dorr discussed social partnership and development, and the importance of striking a balance between the various elements of Irish society to overcome differences and inequality. Not all doom, but more than a little gloom. Read More

Talking about history

8 October 2009

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Miriam O'CallaghanIn spite of all of my best intentions in compiling this week’s guide to history on television and radio (it was my turn, sorry), I managed to miss the appearance of Diarmaid Ferriter, Professor of Irish History at UCD, and Catriona Crowe, Head of Special Projects at the National Archives, on the Miriam O’Callaghan meets… programme on RTÉ Radio 1 on Sunday morning (4 October). The two spoke about their friendship, their careers, what history means to them and what it gives to the wider community and ended with a rather interesting musical choice: Ding Dong Denny O’Reilly’s alternative history of the Famine, ‘The potatoes aren’t looking the best’. If you didn’t catch it, you can listen below, or head over to iTunes to download the programme on podcast.

Part I:


Part II:


Ryan Tubridy at UCD History Society

7 October 2009

Contributed by Fintan Hoey

Ryan TubridyWho would Ryan Tubridy, UCD history graduate, former auditor of the college’s history society, and current favourite of mammies and grannies across Ireland, have on his ideal Late Late Show panel (alive or dead)? Who else? Adolf Hitler, John F. Kennedy and Daniel O’Connell, with Frank Sinatra providing musical accompaniment.

Tubridy was back in UCD on Monday to give a talk to his old society about his current book project on Kennedy’s visits to Ireland and his selection was prompted by a question from the floor. Hitler is apparently Pat Kenny’s ideal guest (a puzzler at first but the idea is oddly compelling), JFK was a natural choice given Tubridy’s project, and the Liberator was chosen by Diarmaid Ferriter (who was in the audience and was asked by Tubridy to chose an appropriate Irish historical figure).

Tubridy spoke for approximately fifty minutes (including questions) in a relaxed and engaging manner on a wide range of topics. These included his fascination with American politics, the recent death and contested legacy of Edward Kennedy, and his pride in his republican ancestry (he is a grandson of Todd Andrews). Given the evident importance of his revolutionary forebears to his sense of identity, he revealed his horror at recently learning, during the filming of the episode of Who Do You Think You Are? on him, that he is also a descendent of King Edward III of England. This prompted, he disclosed, a snide text message from a friend which read, ‘Ya Plantagenet ya!’. Read More

Review: If Lynch had invaded

2 September 2009

Contributed by Brian Hanley

If Lynch had invaded? RTÉ 1, 1 September 2009

Jack LynchTime and word count are limted, so I’ll get to the point: a terrible waste of talent and production values, with no need at all for the final half an hour of sub Saving Private Ryan dramatics. If you are making a documentary on Brian Boru I can see why you may feel that reconstructions are neccesary. However there was a wealth of excellent archival footage and a wide range of interviewees (the ex-Irish soldiers were the best); why not stick to that? Presenter Tom Clonan in his army landrover driving around Newry was particularly ill-judged. All so that the programme could conclude that Lynch got it right (again) and weren’t we lucky to avoid some terrible bloodshed. At least Des O’Malley noted that actually 3,500 plus people died in a slow-drip civil war over the next 30 years. Admidst the neccesary hype to grab viewers the impression was given that the ‘invasion’ plan was news. In fact the key documents have been available to researchers since 2001 and have been written about on several occasions. (See the Cedar Lounge Revolution blog.)

While the idea of serried ranks of Irish troops crossing the border in Panhard armoured cars may cause hearts to quiver in the post-Articles 2 & 3 era, in fact there is nothing at all surprising in the Irish government contemplating this, given that they regarded the six counties as Irish territory (a revelation that they planned incursions into, say, Wales, would have been truly shocking) and that almost the entire southern establishment had at various stages sworn to end partition. Read More

Tales of the Irish cowboy

29 August 2009

By Juliana Adelman

cowboy I happened to catch RTE radio 1′s ‘Farm Week’ this morning as I was up at the usual toddler waking time on Saturday.  For those of you lucky enough to be in bed or simply not tuned in, it’s definitely worth downloading as a podcast.  Donna O’Sullivan interviewed men and women from a few Cork families who all ended up in a remote part of Oregon as cattle and sheep herders during the 1950s.  The interviewees recalled the glory of the scenery, the freedom of sleeping under the stars and, of course, being saddle sore.  It was  fascinating and sounded more like a story from the nineteenth century than only fifty years ago.  Truly the Wild West: one of the interviewees revealed that she got a chance at a job only because two local men got into a fight at a dance, and one of them was taken out to the desert and never seen again.  A pretty amazing emigration story and well worth a listen.

Picture credit: Cowboy herding cattle along Oregon State Highway 31, west of Silver Lake, Oregon. December 18, 2004.

© 2004 Matthew Trump source

History in the Blood?

23 July 2009

Contributed by Ciarán Wallace

DNARecently RTÉ broadcast ‘The Blood of The Irish’, an interesting TV documentary on the ancestral DNA of the earliest inhabitants of Ireland. The programme supported the idea that the island was settled from the west thousands of years ago, in a sea-borne migration by a population from the present-day Basque region. A more extensive BBC series, ‘The Human Journey’, dealt with the global spread of humans from eastern Africa to the rest of the planet.

Intrigued by the possibilities of this scientific archaeology I tracked down a company that analyses DNA taken from saliva, to identify which prehistoric population movement led to my sitting in this particular office typing this article. (You can see that, despite the statement on the company website explaining what DNA testing could and could not reveal, I may have harboured unrealistic expectations.) I paid my €169, the small saliva sampling kit arrived (empty) and was duly returned (half-full). Within the promised 8–12 weeks I received an e-mail outlining my results. There was an attachment which, when printed off on a colour printer at A3 size, would give me a certificate to hang on my wall. To be honest, I was not impressed.  Read More

How Macroom Remembers

17 June 2009

By Kevin O’Sullivan

‘Two men from Macroom died and went up to heaven and met Peter and they said to Peter, “Who’s in charge here? Because we’ll be agin’ him.”‘

MacroomIRABecause it’s too long to wait until our July recommendations and because it’s still fresh in my ears from the commute, I have to point you in the direction of the Peter Woods-produced ‘How Macroom Remembers’, part of RTÉ Radio 1′s ‘Documentary on One’ series. Woods’s piece tells a fascinating tale of how a Cork town has dealt with, assimilated and adapted its memory of the Kilmichael ambush and everything that has passed under its bridges since. When you hear radio like this, it’s a reminder that the written word sometimes just isn’t enough in expressing and exploring the subtleties and, more importantly, the human voice, of our history. In these days of media exaggeration, it’s all too easy to bandy about the superlatives ‘moving’ and ‘evocative’, but the subtle way this documentary is put together – juxtaposing the crisis about Irish pork, current when the show was recorded in 2008, with the still extant bitterness of the Civil War and reveling in the human simplicity of conversation, including at one stage being interrupted with the words ‘Sorry to interrupt now. Would ye adjourn for a cup of tea?’ – makes it a joy to the ears.

Hat tip by the way to the excellent Speechification site for pointing me in the direction of ‘How Macroom Remembers’. Listen to the documentary below and to find other episodes in the series, check the iTunes store (search for ‘documentary on one’) or the programme’s RSS feed.



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