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Irish Icons, International Interests is a new radio docu-drama series exploring the global connections of famous figures from Irish history. Launched on RTE Radio 1 Extra on Saturday 23rd February at 2pm, the show is also available as a podcast (listen here). If you’re interested in great storytelling and Irish history, then this is definitely one for you!
The show shines a new light on legendary heroes of Irish history: Edmund Burke, Daniel O’Connell, Lady Augusta Gregory, Oscar Wilde, Michael Davitt and Roger Casement. How did Daniel O’Connell respond when forced to choose between the political interests of Ireland and the fight against American slavery? Were the seeds of Lady Gregory’s Irish nationalism sown in Egypt? Did Michael Davitt, hero of the Irish Land League, support the land rights of indigenous Australasians against Irish colonizers?
Each 30-minute episode blends a dramatized reading of the icon’s own words with narration and historical context. “Researching this project was a joy. Each story revealed something unexpected to me about the character of these familiar figures from history, as well as opening up sides to global history that are simply not taught in schools. I hope listeners will be as intrigued as I was,” explains writer/narrator Brigit McCone.
The show is made by producer Heather MacLeod, and features dramatic readings by actor Steve Kenneally.
Irish Icons launched last week with the story of Edmund Burke and India. Next up, is Daniel O’Connell and American Slavery. I’ve just been listening to a preview of this episode and highly recommend a listen. It’s an extremely well-produced show, and McCone’s fascination with the topic and dedication to research really shines through. I imagine there will be many listeners who, like myself, know the general story of Daniel O’Connell but very little about his important connections with U.S. abolitionists. Ultimately, it’s a story about human empathy, even in the face of personal loss.
Irish history documentaries of this type can sometimes be very insular, ignoring the global context of what was happening in the wider world, especially outside Britain and the U.S. Irish Icons is truly global in its scope and, to that end, I’m particularly looking forward to episodes on Michael Davitt and Aboriginal Australasia, and Roger Casement and Congo.
Broadcast Dates (RTE Radio 1 Extra, Saturdays, 2pm):
Episode 1 – Edmund Burke and India – Saturday, February 23rd 2019
Episode 2 – Daniel O’Connell and American Slavery – Saturday, March 2nd 2019
Episode 3 – Augusta Gregory and Egypt – Saturday, March 9th 2019
Episode 4 – Oscar Wilde and Chinese Taoism – Saturday, March 16th 2019
Episode 5 – Michael Davitt and Aboriginal Australasia –Saturday, March 23rd 2019
Episode 6 – Roger Casement and Congo – Saturday, March 30rd 2019