The History Show

    Sunday, 6pm

    Gallipoli 100

    The History Show and the organisers of the annual Hay Literary Festival in Kells have joined forces, to launch a commemorative event "Gallipoli 100", marking the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the ill-fated WW1 Dardanelles campaign.  All events will take place in the Church of Ireland, Cannon St, Kells.  It will run from the 24th to the 26th of April 2015, the centenary of the first landings by troops on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey.

    The three-day programme of events will commence on the evening of Friday, 24th April with the Francis Ledwidge Memorial Lecture, delivered by the distinguished Irish WW1 historian Philip Orr.

    Use the links below to view or download more information, and a draft schedule of events.

    The Irish and World War One


    Close to 15,000 Irishmen fought in Gallipoli during World War I.  Almost 4,000 of these soldiers died.   Three quarters of the fatalities served in the Volunteer 10th (Irish) Division.    This is a staggering fatality rate of almost 27%.

    Do you have an ancestor who fought with the Australian forces at Gallipoli?

    We’d like to include your stories in our special Gallipoli centenary programme in April. Please Email:

    The History Show Sunday 22 February 2015


    The History Show

    Bringing the past to life! Discover how our world was shaped, as Myles Dungan and guests explore events ranging from medieval times to the recent past. 


    Songs of the First World War

    Baritone Simon Morgan on "Keep the Home Fires Burning" at the National Concert Hall, a concert of popular songs and rare musical gems of the WW1 era, with unique new musical arrangements.

    Lucien Bersot

    Bill Nelson on the tragic story of Lucien Bersot, a French soldier during World War 1, sentenced to death for the crime of refusing to wear bloody and mud-caked trousers taken from one of his fallen comrades.

    King Leopold's Ghost

    Our Feburary book club choice is Adam Hochschild's "King Leopold's Ghost", a story of greed, terror, and heroism in colonial Africa.  Myles was joined by Richard Downes, Carol Hunt and Melanie Verwoerd. 

    Nelson Mandela

    To mark the 25th anniversary of his release from prison, Melanie Verwoerd shares her memories of Nelson Mandela, and talks about her new book "Our Madiba", an anthology of recollections of the man and anecdotes by people who were touched by meeting him. 


    Songs of the First World War

    During World War One, groups of established musicians presented concerts right at the Front, to raise the spirits of the fighting men. 

    A new concert at the National Concert Hall called "Keep the Home Fires Burning" presents one of these concerts, interspersed with the songs of the soldiers.  The show of popular songs also features rare musical gems of the era, with unique new musical arrangements.

    Baritone singer Simon Morgan joined Myles to talk about it.

    Keep the Home Fires Burning takes place on Monday 23rd February at 8PM, at the National Concert Hall, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2. 

    Room: Main Auditorium
    Prices: €20

    For more information and to book tickets, click here to visit the National Concert Hall's website. 


    Lucien Bersot

    On the 13th of February 1915, a French soldier named Lucien Bersot was executed by firing squad in Northern France.  His crime was officially recorded as "refusing to obey an order in the face of the enemy".  His 'crime' was refusing to wear a pair of pants, issued to him because his own were destroyed in battle, that had been removed from a dead soldier and were caked in blood and mud. 

    Myles was joined by Bill Nelson, who lived and worked in France for ten years and has researched the Bersot case. 

    Lucien Bersot

    On his death certificate, the words "fusillé réhabilité" were added later, in different handwriting.  The addition of the word "réhabilité" meant his name was re-established on the roll of honourable soldiers who died for France.

    Lucien Bersot's death certificate


    King Leopold's Ghost

    Our Feburary book club choice is Adam Hochschild's "King Leopold's Ghost", a story of greed, terror, and heroism in colonial Africa. 

    Myles was joined by broadcaster Richard Downes, journalist Carol Hunt and Melanie Verwoerd, the former South African Ambassador to Ireland. 

    History can provide a far richer cast of characters than any novelist could invent.  Such is the case with Adam Hochschild's work of popular history, in which he brings to life the complex characters who supported and opposed King Leopold's Congo. 

    At the centre of the story is King Leopold himself, the Belgian king who always longed for a colony that he could call his own. 

    King Leopold II of Belgium

    King Lepold used a devious campaign of deception, always insisting that his interests were merely philanthropic, to take control of an area of land nearly twenty times the size of Belgium. 

    Hochschild follows the story of the Congo from pre-European contact to its devastated current state.  One of the people we're introduced to is the famed explorer Henry Morton Stanley, who, with Leopold's support, worked to open the lower Congo to commerce by the construction of roads and railways. 

    Henry Morton Stanley

    When Leopold recruited him, Stanley was already an internationally famous and celebrated explorer.  He was well known for his exploration of central Africa and for tracing the course of the Congo river.  He was particularly well-known for his 1871 expedition to find the Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone, who was known to be in Africa but had not been heard from for some time.  Stanley claimed that when he finally found him, he greeted him with the now-famous line "Doctor Livingstone, I presume?"  This line captured the popular imagination, but he may have never actually said it - Stanley had a flair for the dramatic and was prone to exaggeration. 

    Chief among the people who speak out against Leopold's Congo is Emund Morel - the crusading British investigative journalist who made it his life's work to expose the misrule in the Congo. 

    E.D. Morel

    While working as a shipping clerk as a young man, employed to inventory ships travelling to the Congo, he came to a startling realisation.  The ships returned from Africa full of rubber, but left Europe full of arms and ammunition.  In Morel's own words:

    "These figures told their own story. Forced labour of a terrible and continuous kind could alone explain such unheard-of profits. Forced labour, directed by the closest associates of the King himself.

    I was giddy and appalled at the cumulative significance of my discoveries. It must be bad enough to stumble upon a murder. I had stumbled upon a secret society of murderers, with a King for a croniman."

    One of Morel's most prominent and important allies was Roger Casement.  Casement first travelled to the Congo in 1884. He worked for Henry Morton Stanley and the African International Association, which was a front for King Leopold's takeover of the so-called Congo Free State.

     Roger Casement

    Twenty years later, now a diplomat representing the British government, he authored The Casement Report.  This document confirmed Morel's allegations of widespread human rights abuses and exploitation of the native population. 

    A photo that shows the horror of Leopold's rule.  Men hold severed hands, removed from victims who failed to meet the impossible quotas of rubber sap they were ordered to collect

    Nelson Mandela

    25 years ago this month, South African President Frederik Willem de Klerk freed anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela. Mandela had spent 27 years in prison.

    Nelson Mandela

    Melanie Verwoerd shares her memories of Mandela.  She also talks about her new book "Our Madiba", an anthology of recollections of the great man by ordinary people from all walks of life, who, like her, had been touched by meeting him.

    About The Show

    Bringing the past to life! Discover how our world was shaped as Myles Dungan and guests explore events ranging from medieval times to the recent past.

    We want to help explain ourselves to ourselves. We will search out fresh angles on familiar topics, seek out the unfamiliar and will not shy away from bizarre or controversial issues. Our ultimate goal is to make The History Show the primary port of call for those with an intense or even a modest interest in the subject. We want to entice the casual and the curious to join us in celebrating the past.

    Our aim is to create informative, reflective, stimulating and above all, entertaining radio.

    So do join us on Sundays from 6.05pm for The History Show with Myles Dungan on RTÉ Radio 1.

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