The History Show

The History Show

Sunday, 6pm

The History Show Sunday 10 March 2013

The History Show - Full Show

The History Show - Full 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 on this weeks show An Tostal, The Lives of Irish Women in the 1970s and Irish Family History Phone-In.

An Tostal

An Tostal

An Tóstal is a festival that was organised around the concept of The Gathering. When it started 60 years ago, and the idea was to extend our tourist season and attract overseas visitors to our shores. Much the same idea as The Gathering 2013.

In 1953 post-war Europe, the dollar was the only currency that counted, and all European countries needed dollars to buy necessary goods. There was a European-wide US programme to promote visits to Europe by American tourists.

The idea was dreamed up by Pan American Airlines and their interest was firstly in generating business, but also in getting landing rights in Dublin. They actually wanted to turn Dublin into a European hub, but the Irish government were determined to protect Shannon as the only trans-Atlantic airport.

The proposal pitched to Sean Lemass used the name An Tostal – with the strap line ‘Ireland at home’. The concept was to welcome back Irish emigrants and their descendants and to attract them through a diverse programme of events.

They wanted sporting and cultural activities; they also proposed a beauty pageant to find the next Maureen O’ Sullivan – after The Quiet Man. This did not happen at the time but the long-term genesis is the Rose of Tralee

They also suggested setting up a register in the National Museum where the Irish diaspora (not a term they used) could register births.

The programme was also seen as spreading the tourist activity beyond the peak months of the summer – so it was launched on Easter Sunday, 1953. Feedback suggested too early in the season so they moved it back to June.

The programme included horse racing; boxing, traditional music events, GAA and lots lots more – all around the country.

An Tostal failed to attract many US tourists. Trans-Atlantic flights were very expensive; marketing in US may not have been great; were Irish-Americans sufficiently wealthy at this time to afford such visits? Irish hotels etc outside Dublin were very primitive, very few rooms with bath or shower.

But the consensus was that it did build community activity, and may have resulted in the spread of B and Bs of a decent standard.

Long-term survivors were Cork Film Festival and Dublin Theatre Festival, Tidy Towns and indirectly the Rose of Tralee.

When the national movement faded, Drumshanbo continued to run An Tostal and it still operates annually there today. More details available on

Prof Mary Daly of UCD came in to tell us about An Tostal.

The Lives of Irish Women in the 1970s

The Lives of Irish Women in the 1970s

Forty years ago in this country, life for women here was very different.

Female civil and public servants had to resign their jobs when they got married. They were not allowed to buy contraceptives. They were not allowed to collect the children’s allowance without their husband’s permission. He could also sell their family home without her consent. They were not entitled to equal pay as their male colleagues who did the same job.

The 1973 Report of the Commission on the Status of Women was a milestone for these women. It recommended equal pay, maternity leave, day-care for children and family planning assistance.

Zoe Comyns explored how life was back then and what the Report meant to women in 1973.

Family History Phone-In

This is Family History Year and as part of the St. Patrick’s Festival next week, an Irish Family History Centre is being created at the Discover Ireland Centre in Dublin. Over five days, people will be able to avail of free advice from a range of experts on tracing their ancestry.

To get the ball rolling, genealogists Nicola Morris of and Fiona Fitzsimons of Eneclann answered family history questions from listeners.

Rhona Tarrant also spoke to some members of the extended Roche Family who came from far and wide for their Gathering in Listowel this weekend.

 Irish Family History Centre:  

As part of this year's St Patrick's Festival, an Irish Family History Centre is to be created at the Discover Ireland Centre, Suffolk Street, Dublin 2. It will operate from Thursday 14 March to Monday 18 March inclusive (opening times below) and is free.

Organised by and, the event is aimed primarily at beginners and tourists. They will be able to take advantage of free advice and free access on multiple PCs. Family history groups, including the Irish Genealogical Research Society, will also be on hand to help visitors get started on their research or overcome a brickwall. Lectures are also being planned.

Opening times:
Thursday – Saturday 10am-5pm
Sunday 11am-4pm
Monday 11am-3pm

Coming up on next week's programme......

Coming up on next week's programme......

The History of Ireland in 100 Objects.  A special programme about this book which took shape as a weekly series in the Irish Times last year. The book of the series is a co-production between the Irish Times, the National Museum and the Royal Irish Academy.

Some humble and some splendid, the 100 objects represent tales of politics, power and progress – and of social history and human stories. They also offer a glimpse into the lives and minds of long dead individuals.

We’ll be discussing how these objects open a window onto important moments in Irish history with archaeologist, Michael Ryan; journalist, Patsey Murphy and Catriona Crowe of the National Archives.

April Book Club

April Book Club

On Another Man's Wound by Ernie O'Malley (Mercier Press)

First published in 1936, this book is Ernie O'Malley's engrossing account of his involvement in the fight against British rule in Ireland.  A classic account of the War of Independence.  We'll be discussing this book on Easter Sunday, 31 March 2013.

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.

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

A Pegasus production for RTÉ. 



Contact the Show

Presenter: Myles Dungan

Producer: Lorcan Clancy

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