The History Show

    Sunday, 6pm

    The Irish and World War One

    This August will mark the centenary of the start of World War One. We will be commemorating this anniversary on The History Show with special programmes and short items telling the stories of Irish people who were involved in the war. We will also be examining what was happening here during these turbulent years.

    Do you have relatives who were involved in the First World War? We would like to hear their stories. Email:

    The History Show Sunday 19 October 2014


    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

    Full Programme

    Reclaiming Ireland's Unsung Hero

    Liam Geraghty reports from Shackleton's birthplace in Athy.    Michael Smith on why Earnest Shackleton should be revered in Ireland.

    Daniel O'Connell

    The 19th-century Irish political leader, Daniel O’Connell, was honoured on Friday with an English Heritage blue plaque at his former home - 14 Albemarle Street in London’s Mayfair. Robert Mulhern sent us a report from the event.

    War and Peace

    Catriona Crowe, Judith Devlin and Carol Hunt discussed this month's book club choice, War and Peace.

    Centenary of First Battle at Ypres

    Louise Denvir takes a trip to the West Flanders Municipality, where she met Ken Kinsella beside the Menin Gate, as he remembered one of his relatives.

    WW1 Trip to the Somme

    History teacher, Gerry Moore joined us with deails of a trip to the Somme Battlefield region of France he is organising for teenagers from the 32 counties.  

    Reclaiming Ireland's Unsung Hero

    This year marks the the centenary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, also known as the Endurance Expedition.

    Liam Geraghty brought us a report from Athy Heritage Museum which hosts the only permanent exhibition to Shackleton.   

    Click here for more information about the Shackleton Autumn School 2014 

    Ernest Shackleton was one of history’s great explorers and his incredible adventures on four expeditions to the Antarctic have captivated generations worldwide.   Yet, he’s not generally celebrated here in his own country.

    Shackleton biographer, Michael Smith gave his view on why this explorer's endeavours are not recognised here and appealed to people to reclaim Ireland's unsung hero.


     Ernest Shackleton: Forgotten Hero

    The post-independence historical narrative of the great and good of Ireland is replete with writers, poets, writers and revolutionaries. We measure our hero’s successes with the metrics of international recognition, a level of sacrifice and crucially their “Irishness”. 

    Ernest Shackleton was not successful in his aims as an explorer nor does he fit the popular definition of an “Irish” hero being neither scribe nor revolutionary, catholic or, indeed, successful. In the British narrative he is usurped by the foolhardy Scott who’s pride and poor planning arguably led his expedition to an icy death. Scott is remembered above Shackleton for his “sacrifice” and perhaps for his Britishness.

    An Athy quaker who’s ancestry is rooted in the plantation Shackleton is almost too British for Ireland and not romantic enough for Britain. This is evidenced in the plaudits and honour latterly and justly bestowed on Kerry man Tom Crean. Crean more easily fits the mould for a rugged Irish hero.

    Shackleton failed to cross the south pole and didn’t die vaingloriously on the way. However the story about how he rose through the merchant navy ranks and charmed funding for the exhibition is a book in itself. Polite society was won over with his gilded charm to the point that he convinced a Britain teetering on the brink of a ruinous war to support his attempt.  

    Another tome could be completed on the story about how he commanded a crew of six, including Crean, in a rowing boat not much bigger than a van across open sea to South Georgia to get help. The tale of how Shackleton and his men made it over three mountain peaks 2000 metres high in 36 hours to the whaling station a movie plot in the making.

    There are so many instances of derring-do that it’s hard to comprehend how all this was achieved without any of the technological support we now take for granted. All on a diet of penguin, biscuits and fish.

    Shackleton has enjoyed something of rehabilitation in business leadership. He succeeded in managing two teams on either side of the Antarctic continent just by force of personality, leading them to safety from almost certain disaster.


    Shackleton – By Endurance We Conquer

    by Michael Smith

    “Shackleton – By Endurance We Conquer” takes an in-depth look at this remarkable explorer and personality. The book looks at a different type of Irish hero that we need to reclaim - the anglo-Irish who are a neglected part of our national narrative.

    The book looks deep into his personal story. He had a chaotic private life that greatly contrasted his celebrity status as a leading explorer. Persistent money problems left his men unpaid and his family with debts.

    This first comprehensive biography in a generation brings a fresh perspective to the heroic age of Polar exploration dominated by Shackleton’s complex, compelling and enduringly fascinating story.


    Daniel O'Connell

    The 19th-century Irish political leader, Daniel O’Connell, was honoured  on Friday (17 October) with an English Heritage blue plaque at his former home in London.  

    Robert Mulhern brought us a report from 14 Albemarle Street in London’s Mayfair.


    Daniel O’Connell Honoured with English Heritage Blue Plaque

    Daniel O’Connell successfully campaigned for civil rights – including the right of Catholics to sit in the British Parliament, achieved in 1829 – and his opposition to slavery was crucial to its abolition in 1833 within British jurisdictions. The plaque’s inscription includes O’Connell’s popular soubriquet – The Liberator.

    The blue plaque unveiling was attended by the Irish Minister for the Diaspora, the Ambassador of Ireland to Great Britain, and members of the O’Connell family.

    Throughout his life and career, O’Connell regularly visited and lived in London. He fled revolutionary France for the city in 1793 and studied at the Inns of Court before being called to the Irish Bar. His political outlook was influenced by attending the trials of the London radicals Thomas Hardy and John Horne Tooke. Once he took his parliamentary seat in 1830 as the first popularly elected Catholic MP since the Reformation, he sat in the Commons for the rest of his life, becoming a major player in Westminster.

    The blue plaque is at 14 Albemarle Street in London’s Mayfair, marking the house where the Irish campaigner lived from February until at least July but probably August 1833. The period was a significant one for him: at a General Election, 39 of O’Connell’s supporters had been returned to the House of Commons while the Act to abolish slavery, in which O’Connell played a prominent part, was given royal assent in August 1833.

    Number 14 Albemarle Street is a terraced house of four storeys, dating from the 18th century. The size of the house and its fashionable Mayfair location reflected O’Connell’s political prominence at the time. “I am anxious to make a good appearance in London for the sake of our girls,” he said to his wife, Mary. The house was also home to O’Connell’s sons Maurice, Morgan and John and his son-in-law, Charles.


    The English Heritage blue plaque scheme celebrates the link between notable figures of the past and the London buildings in which they lived and worked. The scheme was founded in 1866 and is believed to be the oldest of its kind in the world. Daniel O’Connell is by no means the first Irish person to be commemorated with an English Heritage blue plaque – Ernest Shackleton, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde and W.B. Yeats are among the other Irish blue plaque recipients.

    Professor Martin Daunton, Deputy Chair of the English Heritage Blue Plaques panel, said: “Daniel O’Connell was arguably the Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi of his age. His campaign for Catholic emancipation and his principled opposition to slavery was – and still is – admired around the world. We are delighted to honour this towering figure in the city which formed the backdrop for much of his career.”

    Irish Minister for the Diaspora, Jimmy Deenihan, said: “I have been a lifelong admirer of my fellow Kerryman, Daniel O’Connell, and particularly his towering achievement in advancing through peaceful means the rights of the Irish people at a very difficult time in our history.

    “O’Connell was not just an Irish figure, but a man of international stature, renowned for his progressive views, his belief in the universality of human rights and his unshakeable commitment to liberal, reforming principles. It gives me great pleasure to officially unveil the English Heritage Blue Plaque commemorating Daniel O’Connell, Ireland’s Liberator and one of the commanding figures in the politics of these islands during his lifetime.”

    Geoffrey O’Connell, great-great-grandson of Daniel O’Connell, said: “We are delighted that Daniel O’Connell has been recognised with the award of an English Heritage blue plaque in this great city which did much to shape his beliefs and ideals.  The ‘prophet of a coming time’ was how the future British Prime Minister William Gladstone described O’Connell and his peaceful struggle for universal rights for people of all races and creeds is as pertinent today as it was prescient then.”


    The life of Daniel O’Connell

     1775   Born in Carhen, Co Kerry

    1793   Fled to London from revolutionary France where he had been studying 

    1798   Called to the Irish Bar

    1802   Marries Mary O’Connell, a distant kinswoman 

    1804   Joined the Catholic Committee, later the Catholic Board, to campaign for Catholic civil rights 

    1823   Established the Catholic Association, a subscription-based mass movement to campaign for Catholic civil rights

    1828   O’Connell successfully stands in a by-election to the British House of Commons; the oath of allegiance, however prevented     any Catholic from taking their parliamentary seat in good conscience

    1829   Roman Catholic Relief Act passed: this removed many of the remaining substantial restrictions on Roman Catholics throughout the UK

    1830   O’Connell takes his parliamentary seat

    1841   Becomes the first Catholic Lord Mayor of Dublin

    1844   Jailed for sedition while campaigning for the restitution of a separate parliament for Ireland 

    1847   Dies in Genoa, Italy while on pilgrimage to Rome        


     1834 portrait of Daniel O'Connell by George Hayter

     ENGLISH HERITAGE:   English Heritage is the custodian of over 400 historic monuments, buildings and sites in England, including Stonehenge and parts of Hadrian’s Wall.

    As the Government’s principal advisor on heritage in England, English Heritage also advises on what should be protected and on how changes to our unique legacy of historic buildings, landscapes and archaeological sites should be managed.  

    HISTORY OF LONDON’S BLUE PLAQUES SCHEME – The London-wide blue plaques scheme has been running for nearly 150 years. The idea of erecting 'memorial tablets' was first proposed by William Ewart MP in the House of Commons in 1863. It had an immediate impact on the public imagination, and in 1866 the (Royal) Society of Arts founded an official plaques scheme. The Society erected its first plaque – to poet, Lord Byron – in 1867. The blue plaques scheme was subsequently administered by the London County Council (1901-65) and by the Greater London Council (1965-86), before being taken on by English Heritage in 1986.

    War and Peace

    Our October Book Club choice was War and Peace by Russian author, Leo Tolstoy.

    145 years after this epic novel was first published, it is still regarded as one of the most important works of world literature and it continues to rank highly on recommended reading lists.

    Leo Tolstoy's (below) War and Peace runs to fourteen hundred pages which is enough to make many people put it on the long finger, so our Book Club guests joined us to not only tell us about the novel, but to give their view on whether it’s worth taking the time to tackle this Mount Everest of the literary world!

    Our Book Club guests were Catriona Crowe, Carol Hunt and historian, Judith Devlin.

    Centenary of First Battle at Ypres

    Today is the anniversary of one of the most significant days in World War 1 history - as it marks 100 years since the first day of the First Battle of Ypres.

    Owing to its position on the north coast of Belgium, Allied and German forces began the first of three battles to control the city. Ypres' proximity to the English Channel and the North Sea, meant it was advantageous to German forces.

    Louise Denvir took a trip to the West Flanders Municipality, where she met Ken Kinsella beside the Menin Gate, as he remembered one of his relatives. 


    WW1 School Trip to Somme

    Gerry Moore, a history teacher from Glenties Comprehensive School in Donegal joined Myles to tell him about a project that will be of interest to very many young people.   Gerry is organising a trip to the Somme Battlefield region of France for teenagers from the 32 counties.

    "Adopt A WW1 Soldier"

    A group of students will visit the Somme battlefield region of northern France in late June 2015.

    A total of 32 students from all over the island of Ireland will undertake this trip.

    Each student will “adopt” a soldier from his/her native county who died in the First World War. During the visit each student will visit either the grave or monument in the Somme region to honour the memory of his/her soldier. The high-point of the trip will be a special wreath-laying ceremony at the “Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme”.

    A student from each county on the island of Ireland shall be chosen to go on this unique trip which will also include a visit to the European Parliament.

    The project is open to students with an interest in History in either Transition Year or 5th Year in the Republic of Ireland or in Years 12/13 in Northern Ireland.

    If you are interested in joining this trip your application must be sent by email to on or before Friday October 24th 2014

    Your application must include:

    A 250-300 word essay stating why you should be chosen  to represent your county in this project.

    Any special talents which you have which could contribute to the experience, for example, music, writing, art, photography.

    Application forms are available at: and also below.

    If you are chosen to represent your county, please note;

    You will be required to carry out research on a soldier from your county whose name you will be given by the selection committee.

    You will be assisted in making contact with the relatives of this soldier.

    You will be required to sign a commitment form and return a financial contribution of €100/£80. This is the total amount you will have to pay towards the cost of the trip.

    The trip is being part funded by Saffron Travel ( and an application for EU funding has also been submitted.

    Other terms and conditions apply (insurance, references, etc.) and these will be made available to the successful candidates when selected.

    For further information go to or




    Application Form








    School Address




    Principal’s Name


    Name of History teacher and contact details


    School Telephone Number


    School email



    Class – (TY / Pre LC

    Year 12 / Year 13)


    Home Address







    Email your application to < >

    N.B. Remember to attach your essay describing why you should be chosen to represent your county and what special talents you have.

    Closing date for applications: 24th October, 2014

    Waterford's Maritime Heritage


    25 October 2014

    The Imagine Festival’s “History and Heritage Day” will once again begin with a bang in the renowned quayside tavern known as Jordan’s at the event, “Booze, Blaas n’Banter”.

    A homage to the early house dockside tavern and to all those who lived, worked and played along the majestic river Suir and Waterford’s coast, the event starts at 9am and runs until noon on October 25th.

    Of course the day starts with a Blaa or, for those not in the know, a kind of floury bap that is indigenous to Waterford and goes down well with lots of butter and cup of tea.

    The Waterford Council of Trade Unions [WCTU] event is held in conjunction with the Imagine Arts Festival and Jordan’s Bar.

    The MC for this event is local journalist, author, songwriter and actor, Ciaran Murphy.

    The morning of short local history will include talks, music, poetry, slow pints, blaas and craic.

    In light of the recent city and county local authority amalgamation, the talks will this year involve a series of short labour and social history presentations from the county.

    Big Jim Larkin’ [Actor Michael Power] gives publican Andrew Jordan ‘down the banks’ for feeding Dockers drink.

    The line up is as follows:

    1. 'John Redmond, Waterford and The Great War' - Paul O'Brien, historian and author.

    Paul O'Brien will argue that, while it is important and appropriate to remember and commemorate the thousands of Irish men and boys who died in the Great War that started 100 years ago this year, WW1 was really about a clash of empires. Both the British and German ruling classes were prepared for any number of dead and maimed to advance their imperial interests. O'Brien will take on the arguments of John Bruton and others, claiming that John Redmond was a recruiting Agent for the British and acting in the class interests of the rich classes in Britain and Ireland.

    2. 'Traditional craft of the Suir' - Michael Bance, journalist and author.

    For many of us, a river; the sea or indeed any expanse of water, exerts a special fascination and attraction, along with it constituting an important economic resource. Waterford's history and culture has been greatly influenced by the river Suir – as a means of livelihood, transport and communication and, as a source of legend and belief. In this talk, Bance, who builds traditional boats as a hobby, will examine the legacy of traditional craft – exploring the different uses to which they were put, the environments in which they flourished and the people and lives of those who built and sailed them on the Suir.

    3. 'The Farm Labourers Strike 1923' - Dr. Emmet O'Connor, lecturer, historian and author.

    In this presentation, O'Connor will claim that the West Waterford farm labourers’ strike of 1923 was one of the most bitter and important agrarian struggles ever to occur in Ireland. It deserves to be remembered, he will argue, because, it shines a light and gives an insight on what might be termed the hidden Ireland of that period.

    4. 'Blackwater and Bride - Navigation and Trade, 7000 BC to 2000' - Niall O'Brien, West Waterford farmer.

    The Blackwater and Bride rivers in West Waterford and South Munster are today noted all over the world for their fishing, yet the rivers have a navigation history that is worth telling. Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Richard Boyle, along with many merchants of Youghal, Tallow, Cappoquin and Lismore, ensured that this waterway was a main artery of trade right up to the late 20th Century. The trade routes served many places in West Waterford, North Cork and South Tipperary. It's waters were graced with the first steamboat in Ireland and by the last sailing schooners to travel the coastal waters between Ireland and Brittan.

    5. ' Memories of Old Waterford ' - Catherine Foley, journalist, broadcaster and film maker.

    A Booze, Blaas n’Banter regular, Catherine Foley will read from her late father Joe Foley's writings. Joe was a proud Ferrybank man, a staunch trade unionist and socialist. He was the last of twelve children born to Dan and Kate Foley, the well-known Ferrybank family with connections to Ring, Co Waterford. Joe wrote many stories about growing up in Ferrybank - not polemics, but vignettes of a time long since gone: this reading will comprise tales of mitching off school and wandering in and out of places along the Quays and docks, amongst the ships and hustle and bustle of a busy working port city. Catherine, who regularly features on RTE's Sunday Miscellany, will also read from her own prose about growing up in Waterford.

    6. ' Waterford and the 1913 Lockout Tapestry ' - Margaret DeCourcey and Siobhan McCarthy.

    To commemorate the 1913 Lockout, SIPTU commissioned a large tapestry depicting its most significant events. This tapestry would become ‘The story of the Lockout' and be set out on 30 embroidered panels. The panels were made by community groups, women's groups, schools and prisoners etc. Unknown to anyone in the local trade union movement, a group of Waterford women came together to make a panel. The subject they choose was the funeral of one James Nolan, a worker who was killed on the September 1st 1913, following a clash with the police at a rally in central Dublin.

    7. 'History of the Clyde Shipping Co.Waterford' - Noel Dalton, former Clyde shipping manager.

    The Clyde Shipping Co. has been part of the busy port life of Waterford for generations. Though the company is long gone, its iconic shipping office is still one of the city's most loved buildings. One of its large cranes still stands proudly over the Suir and Quays. Citizens have fond memories of the company's ships and can still rattle of names of such as 'The Great Western' 'The Rockabil' and 'Tuskar', ships which family members crewed and in which many relatives set sail to find work in Bristol, London and Liverpool. Two monuments near the Clyde Wharves are permanent reminders to many seafaring families of the sad loss of loved ones who were drowned during WW1, when the company's sister ships 'The SS Formby' and ‘Conningbeg' were sunk by German U Boats. Dalton will recall the history of the company in Waterford and some of the characters who worked for the company on the docks and at sea.

    8. The Glass – 'When Jobs Grew on Trees' - Donie Fell, Master Blower at former Waterford Crystal

    A reflection by former glassmaker Donie Fell on the sixties and early seventies when 'The Glass' developed as a major employer in the region. As Ireland’s industrial policy enticed foreign capital into the country, Waterford Crystal seduced the young men of the city into apprenticeships where they were trained in the crafts of glass blowing and glass cutting. In the mid 60’s Tom Healy, then personnel manager at Waterford Crystal, toured local boys secondary and technical schools inviting students to apply for craft jobs in the expanding industry on a promise of good wages. With employment came unionisation when these workers were also enrolled as members of the ATGWU and were introduced to their responsibilities and duties as members by senior shop stewards. In this short piece, Fell will relate how those first tentative steps into the world of glassmaking and trade unionism were to lead to a lifetime of activism for many of these workers.

    The Old Dublin Society Lecture

    On Wednesday October 22nd Brendan Grimes will present his lecture ' Roman Catholic Churches in 19th century Dublin: the contribution of patrons and architects ' to the Old Dublin Society at 6.30pm.

    Venue:  The Conference Room of Dublin City Library and Archive,

    138 - 144 Pearse Street, Dublin 2.

    All welcome - admission free

    James Lydon Lecture

    The inaugural James Lydon Lecture in Medieval History and Culture akes place at Trinity College Dublin on Tuesday 21 October at 7pm.

    Speaker:   Professor John Gillingham (LSE Emeritus)

    Theme:     Enslavement and War in Irish and European History.

    Admission Free.  All Welcome.


    National Museum of Ireland Conference

    Soldiers and Civilians

    Experiences and Memories of the First World War

    A day of talks exploring the experiences of soldiers, nurses and civilians during the First World War and how the War has been commemorated across Europe.

    At the National Museum of Ireland, Decorative Arts and History, Collins Barracks, Dublin 7, on Saturday 25 October 2014,


    What did men and women in uniform, prisoners and civilians experience during the War?

    The National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts and History will host its seventh conference on the War, discussing Irish and European perspectives on the conflict and ways of commemorating it.

    Join fourteen speakers, including Dr Catriona Pennell (University of Exeter), Altay Cengizer (Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs), and Dr William Mulligan (University College Dublin) as we explore the experiences of Irish, Turkish, British and German soldiers, nurses and civilians during the First World War. We will also discuss what role museums and cultural institutions play in contemporary commemorations and what projects are currently underway in Ireland, Britain and further afield in this Decade of Centenaries.

    Tickets 10€/ Concessions 7€. Booking required 

    Conference Programme

    Soldiers and Civilians – Experiences and Memories of the First World War

    National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts and History

    Saturday, 25 October 2014

    Venue: Palatine Room


    10.00 – 10.10am   Welcome and Opening Remarks

    Raghnall Ó Floinn, Director, NMI

    Chair: Tom Burke, Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association


    10.10 – 10.30am

    A Truly Shared Commemoration? Britain, Ireland and the Centenary of the First World War

    Dr Catriona Pennell, University of Exeter


    10.30 – 10.50am

    The Final Struggle: The Ottoman Empire in the First World War

    Altay Cengizer, Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs


    10.50 – 11.10am

    From Empire to Republic: the Experience of German Soldiers during and after the First World War

    Dr William Mulligan, University College Dublin


    11.10 – 11.20am

    Q&A Session


    11.20 – 11.50am




    11.50 – 12.10pm

    ‘Ballydehob at War’: Researching Irish Communities on Lives of the First World War

    Luke Smith, Imperial War Museums


    12.10pm – 12.30pm

    Museums, Material Culture and Legacies of War(s) in Northern Ireland

    Prof Elizabeth Crooke, University of Ulster

    12.30 – 12.50pm

    Lives Remembered at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin

    Andrew Smith, St Patrick’s Cathedral


    12.50 – 1.10pm

    Tales from the Crypt: World War One and the National Museum from 1914-2014

    Lar Joye, National Museum of Ireland


    1.10 – 1.20pm

    Q&A Session


    1.20 – 2.20pm

    Lunch Break

    (Please note, lunch is not included in ticket price) _________________________________________________________________________________

    2.20 – 2.40pm

    Poetry from Hell: Soldiers and Civilians’ Poems on World War One

    Dr Flavio Sanza, Swansea University Wales


    2.40 – 3pm

    The Role of Women in the First World War

    Dr Ann McVeigh, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland


    3 – 3.20pm

    Jubilee nurses and the First World War

    Liz Prendergast, Author and Artist


    3.20 – 3.40pm

    ‘Barbed Wire Disease’: German POWs in Templemore, 1914-15

    Dr John Reynolds, Garda Siochana


    3.40 – 4pm




    4 – 4.20pm

    Lest they remember? The memory of the First World War in the Irish Free State, 1918-1928

    Emmanuel Destenay, University Paris IV Sorbonne


    4.20 – 4.40pm

    The Politics of Commemoration: Ireland and Australia

    Dr Elaine Byrne, University of New South Wales, Sydney


    4.40 – 4.55pm

    Remembering World War One: a Contemporary Music Project

    George Higgs, Composer


    4.55 - 5.15pm

    Q&A Session and Closing Remarks

    1.15 – 2.30pm

    Drop-in event: Trace your relatives from the Great War

    Find out how to trace records of family who served in the army with members of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association.

    Venue: ‘Soldiering in the Twentieth Century’ gallery of the ‘Soldiers and Chiefs’ exhibition


    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.

    The History Show

    Latest Show

    The History Show on Twitter

    Schedule Open Schedule