Documentary on One

Thirty Years Later

Michael de Courcy died in 1984 following a football accident aged 29 - now dead longer than he was alive, his family and friends explore the influence his life had on them thirty years later.

Thirty Years Later

Michael de Courcy
Michael de Courcy

Born in 1955, Michael de Courcy embraced all life had to offer from day one. Sportsman, architect, artist, activist, thinker and classiscist, he travelled the world funded by proceeds of an exhibition of his paintings in the Project Arts Centre sending letters home on thin blue aerograms; he led the UCD students to occupy 5 Georgian houses in Pembroke Street which were in danger of demolition and his ideas on collaborative practices were influential amongst architects in the early 1980s. Above all Mike was a much-loved husband, father, brother, son and friend.

On 26th July 1984, aged 29 and 2 weeks, Mike died as a result of hitting his head off the ground during a friendly soccer match the previous evening. It was an accident. Nothing to blame - apart, maybe, from his enthusiasm for life and the fact there was no rain that summer. He left behind his wife, baby son, 5 sisters, parents, extended family and a wide circle of friends all shocked by his death.

Mike is now dead longer than he was alive. Yet the way he engaged with the world, the legacy of his work and the manner of his death live on in minds, stories, actions and in the work of others.

Making sense of sudden death is, for young adults, challenging and difficult. Navigating an acceptable route through a bleak landscape in the aftermath of bereavement can be a lonely and isolating experience, one which most people are not equipped for, and today far too many young adults are faced with this empty landscape. The traditional memorial rituals are but brief moments and, after them, finding a way to move beyond sadness and to integrate the positive memories of the person who has died into ones everyday life can be very hard. From a young adult's perspective, it is unimaginable that, 30 years later, the person who has died will indeed still feature strongly in their imaginative lives in a positive and life-enhancing way.

THIRTY YEARS LATER tells the story of Mike's life and explores its resonance today through the memories of his mum, four younger sisters - Catherine, Sheila, Brigie and Anna , who were aged between 16 and 26 when he died, his friends architectural historian, Shane O'Toole and artist, Michael Kane and his son Matthew who was just 9 months old when Mike died.

First broadcast Saturday 6th September 2014, 2pm.

Narrated and produced by Sheila de Courcy
Production Supervision by Sarah Blake
Sound Supervision by Mark McGrath


'Documentary on One is the home of Irish radio documentaries and the largest library of documentary podcasts available anywhere in the world. We tell stories in sound, mostly Irish ones, and each documentary tells its own story'


Documentary Maker: Sheila de Courcy

Sheila de Courcy
More Information

Documentary maker: Sarah Blake

More Information

If you have an Idea?

If you want to suggest a subject or you want to make a documentary? Let us know