“We lived through history LIVE,” Paddy Scanlon says, and it sums up the extraordinary experience of those in Berlin on the night of November 9th 1989 – the night the Berlin Wall opened.
Twenty years after that extraordinary event Martin Duffy, an Irish writer and film-maker living in Berlin since 2003, meets up with Irish people who have been living in West Berlin since its days as a walled-in city and talks with them about their experiences of the times before and since the fall.
Paddy Scanlon came to Berlin in 1973 and by 1975 he and his partners had opened the first Irish Pub in the city. A few years after the Wall came down, they opened the first Irish pub in the east of the city. His Irish Pub, in the Europa Centre on the Kurfürstendamm, was packed out with visitors from the East the night the Wall opened.
Hugh MacBrien and Marty Byrne are two Irish musicians who moved to Berlin in the 1980s. They have their stories of the time the Wall came down – and of their first forays into the East, playing Irish music.
Anne Riney, who moved to Berlin in 1978, had just completed her education in the field of Business Administration and Property Development at the end of 1994. Over the following years she rose to become head of the main Engel&Völkers Residential office in Berlin city center. Engel & Völkers played a key role on behalf of the Jewish Claims Conference in the organisation and management of the sale of property in East Berlin that had been confiscated by the Nazis and was finally being restored to its rightful Jewish owners.
Berlin is a fascinating city steeped in history. Twenty years after the city's reunification, this Documentary on One presents a group of Irish people who have made Berlin their home. It examines their connections to Berlin and to their Irish identity. They give their views on Berlin then and now – and what the future may hold.
(Photo left to right) Hugh McBrien, Anne Riney and Paddy Scanlon.
Presented and produced by Martin Duffy.
Production supervision by Liam O'Brien
First broadcast Nov 7th 2009
An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland - Documentary on One - the home of Irish radio documentaries