This week


Secret Sights again explores little known parts of Ireland and Irish history, this time in the ‘Long Century’ that ended in 1922.

  Presenter Rob Vance  
Rob Vance has discovered the secret cave where Highwaymen hid their stolen goods in Mayo, what body-snatchers got up to in Dublin and a little known island off the Cork coast, the centre of a vast smuggling business, 200 years ago.

The series explores the secret lives of ‘The Wrens’ who lived rough on the Curragh, supplying sexual services to the British army in the 19th century and a passionate Republican love affair that ended before a firing squad. Rob visits the strange world of a jealous landlord, who locked his wife away for 30 years, merely on suspicion of her having an affair.

  Working on set  
The momentous changes in working lives and education in that ‘Long Century’ are looked at from the viewpoint of working people; what it was like to sweat 60 hours a week for a pound, or labour on a farm from dawn to dusk…for nothing. Rob finds a huge ruined factory, the biggest in Ireland, still surrounded by the model village, owner’s mansion and school that its founders built in the 1860’s. And he finds the most bizarre collection of souvenirs in Ireland, brought back from the far-flung corners of the British Empire by Irish civil servants.

We visit the eerie remains of a vast underground bunker complex, built on the Shannon to resist Napoleon and Rob visits the forgotten site where almost 400 young Irish soldiers and their wives drowned, during a violent snowstorm in 1807.

And we discover the secret life of someone who ripped off the banks in 1845…the rich social life of Ireland’s first con man.

The series also looks at the more serious events of that long century through rarely seen footage from Ireland’s cinematic pioneers and we probe the hidden world of servants and their masters, upstairs and downstairs.

The series concludes with a controversial interview with critic Fintan O’Toole, shot inside Daniel O’Connell’s tomb, where the ghosts of the past are questioned as to their right to influence people today.