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 23 November 2014


    Full Programme

    Alan Turing

    As a big screen adaption of Andrew Hodges biography opens in cinemas, we explore the life and death of Alan Turing – the brilliant World War II code breaker who paid the ultimate price for being gay. Andrew Hodges’ biography – The Enigma is assessed by our November Book Club guests, Aoibhinn ni Suilleabhain, Sean Duke and Peter Arnds.

    Lord Lucan's Disappearnce

    Lorcan Clancy charts Lord Lucan's disappearance forty years ago this month as well as the aftermath.

    Sainsbury’s Christmas Truce Ad

    The Sainsbury’s Christmas Truce ad has been branded cynical and disrespectful. TCD's Peter Arnds and historian, Michael Kennedy give their assessment.

    All The Fine Young Men

    The tenors and basses of Laetare Vocal Ensemble, conducted by Róisín Blunnie, sung a choral arrangement of Eric Bogle's ballad 'All the Fine Young Men' on the programme.

    Sean MacBride

    Archives reveal Sean MacBride’s subservient attitude to the Catholic church.


    Alan Turing

    As a big screen adaption of Andrew Hodges biography opens in cinemas, we explore the life and death of Alan Turing – the brilliant World War II code breaker who paid the ultimate price for being gay. Andrew Hodges’ biography – The Enigma is assessed by our November Book Club guests, Aoibhinn ni Suilleabhain, Sean Duke and Peter Arnds.


    Alan Turing is widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence. He was an English mathematician, wartime code-breaker and pioneer of computer science. He probably had a deeper understanding of computers and their potential in the future than anyone else.

    Turing was chiefly responsible for breaking the German Enigma code during the Second World War, an achievement that helped save Britain from defeat 1941. Had this been publicly known, he would have been acclaimed a national hero. But the existence of the British code-breaking effort remained closely guarded even after the end of the war. The relevant documents weren’t declassified until the 1970s.

    Alan Turing achieved world-class Marathon standards. His best time of 2 hours, 46 minutes, 3 seconds, was only 11 minutes slower than the winner in the 1948 Olympic Games. In a 1948 cross-country race he finished ahead of Tom Richards who was to win the silver medal in the Olympics.

    The father of modern computing

    His ultimate personal crisis began in March 1952 when he was arrested for having a homosexual relationship with a young Manchester man, Arnold Murray.

    As Andrew Hodges wrote:

    "He made no serious denial or defence, instead telling everyone that he saw no wrong with his actions. He was particularly concerned to be open about his sexuality even in the hard and unsympathetic atmosphere of Manchester engineering.

    The police officer who arrested him would later note that he made no attempt to conceal what he had done, instead volunteering a five-page statement outlining his activities – written ‘in a flowing style, almost like prose’. Turing, he concluded, was ‘a very honourable man".

    Following his conviction on charges of indecency, the State went to harrowing lengths to, as they thought, “cure” him of his homosexuality.

    He was convicted of 'gross indecency with a male'. Instead of prison, he was sentenced to chemical castration - injections of the female hormone oestrogen, designed to suppress his homosexuality.

    He was being given weekly oestrogen doses and at one point the doctor said, this is a bit embarrassing for both us; why don’t I give you an implant so you don’t have to keep coming back for these appointments every week. He was given the implant in his thigh. It was supposed to stop after two years, and it didn’t. But then one night he pulled out a carving knife from the kitchen drawer and tried to gouge it out of his body.

    On June 7, 1954, just two weeks before his 42nd birthday, the softly-spoken genius killed himself by taking a bite out of an apple that he had dipped in cyanide.

    Some believe his bizarre death is commemorated to this day in the logo used by Apple on its electronic goods - so significant was his contribution to the genesis of the computer.

    In 2009, Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the government for ‘the appalling way’ Turing had been treated. In 2013, he was granted a posthumous pardon by the Queen.

    Alan Turing, the Enigma by Andrew Hodge is published in paperback by Vintage.


    The Imitation Game is showing in cinemas now


    Lord Lucan

    In November 1974, Richard John Bingham, the 7th Earl of Lucan, disappeared without a trace. Bingham, commonly known as Lord Lucan, vanished on the same night his family's nanny was murdered in London. Forty years on, his fate is still an enduring mystery.

    In County Mayo, where Lucan had a substantial estate, the name 'Lucan' has been a source of deep resentment.

    Lorcan Clancy found out more about the Lucan case, and the Earl's connection to County Mayo.

     The Mysterious Disappearance of Lord Lucan

    by Lorcan Clancy

    On a Thursday night in November 1974, Lady Veronica Bingham ran into a pub in the upscale Belgravia district of central London. Panic-stricken, and covered in bloodstains, she said that her husband had killed the family nanny, and violently attacked her. The next day, the story dominated the headlines. The missing earl suspected of murder pushed the union strikes and the latest IRA bombing off the front pages. Before long, the whole of London was looking for Lucan.

    Richard John Bingham, known as Lord Lucan, was born in 1934, the eldest son of a prominent Anglo-Irish peer. In 1939, as war clouds gathered over Europe, he and his siblings were evacuated, spending five years on the sumptuous New York estate of a multi-millionaire. Returning to wartime Britain in early 1945 must have been quite a shock for the young heir-apparent. Despite their considerable wealth, his parents preferred a simple and austere lifestyle, a stark contrast to the material privilege he'd grown used to in America.

    During his school days at Eton, he first developed a taste for gambling. After two years of National Army Service, followed by a spell at a merchant bank in London, he became a full-time professional gambler.

    His friends called him "Lucky Lucan", even though his losses easily outweighed his winnings.

    Although Lucan wasn't an actor, it's said that film producer Albert Broccoli once considered him for the role of James Bond. The handsome and charismatic playboy had expensive tastes - he drove an Aston Martin, just like the fictional spy. And his exploits at the gambling table drew comparisons to Ian Fleming's novel Casino Royale.

    In the early 1970s, Lucan's marriage to Lady Veronica collapsed, and a bitter dispute over the custody of their three children ensued. As he battled with his estranged wife in court, legal costs and gambling debts piled up.  

    When the police arrived at the Lucan household on that Thursday night in 1974, it seemed like an open and shut case. A man planned to murder his wife, but accidentally killed his children's nanny. As he was a peer of the realm, everyone expected that Lucan would soon turn up with his solicitor and present himself to the police. It would be a long wait, and he quickly became the world's most notorious missing person.

    Lucan supported his gambling habit with income from an estate in County Mayo. For years after his disappearance, attempts to have the Earl declared dead were followed closely by the people of Castlebar, where householders were long obliged to pay ground rents to the Lucan family.  

    Lord Lucan comes from a long line of landed gentry. His direct ancestor was a man who struck fear into the hearts of people on the west coast of Ireland. During the Famine, the third Earl of Lucan George Bingham ruthlessly evicted thousands of tenants from his lands. Because of this, hatred for the Lucan name has always run deep in County Mayo.

    In 1999, the English High Court finally declared Lucan dead, granting his family probate over his estate. Despite this declaration, forty years after he vanished we still don't know what happened to him. His disappearance prompted decades of speculation. The truth behind the Lucan case, and the whereabouts of one of the most famous murder suspects in history, remains a mystery.


     Lord Lucan as he might have aged and how he might look today.


    Sainsbury’s Christmas Truce Ad

    The current Sainsbury’s ad is causing a huge furore among critics who says its depiction of the famous World War 1 Christmas truce is cynical and disrespectful.

    Click here to see Sainsburys Christmas ad which recreates WW1 Christmas truce in 1914

    Click here to email us with your view of this ad

    During their research, Sainsbury’s say that they used real letters and diaries and consulted historians at the Imperial War Museum and the British Legion.

    The ad was directed by Ringan Ledwidge whose great-uncle, Irish war poet Francis Ledwidge was killed the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917, aged 29.  It has received in the region of 10 million views on You Tube to date.

    Peter Arnds, who’s from Germany, and historian Michael Kennedy gve their assessment of the ad.

    All The Fine Young Men

    The tenors and basses of Laetare Vocal Ensemble, conducted by Róisín Blunnie, sung a choral arrangement of Eric Bogle's ballad 'All the Fine Young Men' on the programme giving us a taste of what to expect in their forthcoming concert series listed below.

    THERE WILL BE PEACE.... Concert Series

    Featuring Laetare Vocal Ensemble (from Dublin) conducted by Róisín Blunnie

    And Voci Nuove (from Cork), conducted by Lynsey Callaghan.

    There will be Peace...reflections on conflict, love and loss, features music by Irish and international composers that responds to war in various ways.

    Friday 28th Nov at 8pm:
    Unitarian Church, Stephen's Green, Dublin 2
    Saturday 29th Nov at 8pm:
    Cork Vision Centre, North Main St, Cork.
    Tickets €10 (or €5 concessions), available at the door.
    All the Fine Young Men

    by Eric Bogle

    They told all the fine young men that when the war is over

    There will be peace and the peace will last forever.

    In Flanders Field, at Lone Pine and Bersheeba,

    For king and country, for honour and duty

    Those young men fought and cursed and wept and died.

    They told all the fine young men that when the war is over

    In your country's grateful heart we will cherish you forever.

    At Tobruk and Alamein, at Bhuna and Kokoda,

    Like your fathers before, in a world mad with war

    Those young men fought and cursed and wept and died.

    For many of those fine young men all the wars are over.

    They have found peace; it's the peace that lasts forever.

    When the call comes again they will not answer.

    They're just forgotten bones lying far from their homes,

    As forgotten as the cause for which they died

    Oh young men, can’t you see now how they lied? 


    Sean MacBride

    The subservient attitude to the Catholic Church of Seán MacBride, one of the leading republican figures of 20th-century Irish politics, is revealed in a selection of documents from the archives published this week.

    Letters between Sean MacBride and senior Catholic bishops is contained in Volume IX in Documents on Irish Foreign Policy 1948-1951, edited by Michael Kennedy of the Royal Irish Academy.

    Michael Kennedy  discussed this correspondence and what it reveals about MacBride's time as Minister for Exernal Affairs.




    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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