The History Show

The History Show

Sunday, 6pm

Sunday 27 May 2012

What really happened on the night of 27 January 1982?

During the 1990 presidential election, a political storm erupted which would change the course of the campaign.

The row was over phonecalls made by Fianna Fail to Aras an Uachtarain on the night that the Garret Fitzgerald Coalition government fell on 27 January 1982.

Eight years later, on RTE’s Questions and Answers, when Brian Lenihan was running for President, he was asked about his role in these phonecalls. He denied that he picked up the phone to the Aras.

The following evening, Brian Lenihan again denied ringing the President. But the next day, the Irish Times said it had independent evidence that not only did Brian Lenihan ring the Aras, but so too did Charlie Haughey and Sylvester Barrett. Cabinet colleagues, Padraig Flynn, Bertie Ahern and Ray Burke sprang to Brian Lenihan’s defence. And later that week, Charlie Haughey rowed in in indignant outrage.

But then, at a news conference called by the Irish Times, it revealed that the source of its story was a hitherto unknown political science student, Jim Duffy who had recorded an interview with Brian Lenihan in the course of his research.

During this scratchy interview, Brian Lenihan had told Jim Duffy that he remembered talking to Dr. Hillery on the night in question.

But as the controversy raged on, so too did Brian Lenihan's denials.

And then, Sylvester Barrett fell on his sword and admitted it was he who phoned the Aras.

Brian Lenihan didn’t pursue his request to talk to President Hillery but he did persist in denying his involvement in the affair.

Brian Lenihan’s campaign never recovered and on the 3rd of December, 1990, Mary Robinson was inaugurated as the 7th president of Ireland.

President Patrick Hillery deposited his archives with UCD in 1991 and 1997 – and it includes the phone logs from that fateful night.

Thirty years on, historians Sarah Campbell and Ciara Meehan of UCD’s School of History and Archives are publishing these phone logs on a new UCD website -

They joined Myles to reveal details of Aras an Uachtarain's phone logs from that night.

The discussion included extensive archive material from that crisis week during the 1990 Presidential Election campaign.

Dublin City Libraries Photographic Archive

Images dating back to the early 20th century, including shots of derelict Dublin in 1913 and the Civil War in 1922, are included in the Dublin City Libraries photographic collection which catalogues life in the capital over the last 100 years.

Most of them were taken by Dublin City Council staff since the 1950s and depict day-to-day life as well as historic events such as the blowing up of Nelson’s Pillar in 1966 and the 1974 Dublin bombings.

As part of the Bealtaine Festival, Enda Leany of the digital projects section with the Dublin City Public Libraries has been visiting local libraries in the capital with a selection of these photos. The aim – to encourage people who have been witnesses to 20th century history to get talking about their memories.

People can check out the digitised photo archive at

If you'd like to join Enda for a trip down memory lane, he'll be at Ringsend Library at 6.30pm on Monday, 28 May and in Drumcondra Library at 11am on Wedneday, 30 May.

The Irish and the birth of Hollywood

In the early 20th century, Los Angeles was one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.

In the decade following 1900, its population more than tripled to over 300,000 and LA jumped nine places to become the 17th largest city in America.

And in 1911, the first motion picture studio in Hollywood was built.

Very quickly, East Coast based central European Jews such as Zukor, Fox and the Warner Brothers began to dominate the executive level of this burgeoning industry. But what’s little known is that many of the practitioners in early Hollywood were in fact Irish Americans.

Marc-Ivan O’Gorman discussed some of these early practitioners. He is particularly interested in in Carlow-born, William Desmond Taylor who was the most prolific of any Irish-born film maker to set foot in Hollywood. His mysterious murder was one of Tinsel Town's all time greatest scandals and had a direct impact on altering the course of the industry for decades to come.

This is the 140th anniversary of William Desmond Taylor's birth and a festival celebrating his life and work will take place in his hometown of Carlow in September.

History Show 10 June Book Club

A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate)

This historical epic tells the story of three young men who find themselves in Paris in 1789, at the dawn of the French Revolution.

Georges-Jacques Danton: zealous, energetic and debt ridden. Maxilien Robesierre: small, diligent and terrified of violence. And Camille Desmoulins: a genius of rhetoric, charming and handsome, yet also erratic and untrustworthy.

As the men taste the addictive delights of power, the darker side of the Revolution's ideals are unleashed and all expereince the horror that follows.

History Festival of Ireland

The inaugural History Festival of Ireland is curated by author and historian Turtle Bunbury and is part of Eigse 2012. It aspires to educate and to be a bit of fun, to resolve and to confound, to question and to explore. Ireland boasts dozens of literary festivals and spoken word events – but none of them give themselves over to the discussion of History and the things that we have and haven’t learnt from it.

Featuring some of the most learned minds of our generation, the two-day festival will be a veritable feast of high-octane historical banter, embracing topics from the impact of Brian Boru’s victory at Clontarf a thousand years ago to the treatment of Irish soldiers who served in the British Army after the Second World War. We will look at the heroes and villains of our past, and muse upon ways in which we can make history relevant in the future. We will explore the historical legacies of Catholicism and Empire, of Slavery and Sport, of War and Peace. And we hope to send you home again feeling a little wiser for your visit.

Admission to the Festival Marquee is €10 per day, and the Library Talks are an additional €10 per event.



Contact the Show

Presenter: Myles Dungan

Producer: Lorcan Clancy


Ways to Listen

Radio Player