The History Show

The History Show

Sunday, 6pm

The History Show Sunday 31 March 2013

The History Show

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.

On this weeks programme; April Book Club: On Another Man's Wound by Ernie O'Malley, Hitchcock's classic The Birds, Irish Easter Food Traditions and Language Bites.

Coming Up on Next Week's Programme

Coming Up on Next Week's Programme

Learning the history of hidden Dublin through a new university course, the Great Houses of Cork and Kerry and the story of the Jonestown massacre 35 years on.


April Book Club: On Another Man's Wound by Ernie O'Malley

‘On the base of the Pillar was a white poster. Gathered around were groups of men and women. Some looked at it with serious faces, others laughed and sniggered. I began to read it with a smile, but my smile ceased as I read, ‘Poblacht na h-Eireann, the Provisional government of the Irish Republic – to the people of Ireland.’

- Ernie O’Malley – O’Connell Street, Easter Monday

When the Easter Rising broke out, Ernie O’Malley was a medical student in Dublin.

As with so many Irish people he was profoundly changed by the execution of the leaders of the Rising and was an early recruit into the post-Rising Volunteers, later to become the Irish Republican Army during the war of independence.

His memoir of that conflict, first published in 1936, is a classic account of guerrilla warfare in Ireland and the destabilization of British rule over a two and a half year period.

It’s our April Book Club choice and joining Myles to discuss it were historians Diarmaid Ferriter and Conor Mulvagh and also, Elaine Sisson, cultural historian with the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology.

On Another Man’s Wound by Ernie O’Malley has recently been reissued by Mercier Press.

Ernie O'Malley - Quotes from On Another Man's Wound

Ernie O'Malley - Quotes from On Another Man's Wound

Writing about 1916

‘In the morning smoke could be seen, and flames, It was terrible to watch. Why had I not known about the fight earlier? I thought of all the chances I had had of joining the Irish Volunteers; instead I had laughed and scoffed. Now, when I wanted to help I could not. A Dublin Fusilier, a friend, came to visit us during the day. He drank his large glasses of whiskey and was eagerly listened to. He was an authority. His officers had told him, ‘Every man you see in green uniform, regard him as a German soldier, as an invader. Shoot him down.’ ‘We examine all suspects,’ he said, ‘and a bruise on anyone’s shoulder means that he has been using a long-barrelled Mauser. I’d like to stick them up against a wall instead of taking them prisoners.’ He was hailed by many, who were anxious to shake hands, as he walked away.’

 March-May 1919

At the dug out in St. Ita’s I met Cathal Brugha, Dick Mulcahy and Mick Collins. Brugha was chief of staff; Mulcahy, assistant chief; Collins was director of organisation, adjutant general and unofficial quartermaster general. Collins, in riding breeches and brown leggings was striding up and down the narrow room cursing, his strong Cork accent more emphasized. Mulcahy looked at Cathal Brugha who, thin-lipped, widemouthed, sat at one end of the bare wooden table. Brugha had never talked much to me; he always seemed to be holding himself in check. He showed little of his many wounds save round his mouth and eyes; his face was often grey. When he had to talk he spoke with directness and finality as if the matter had been thought out and was now finished. Mulcahy never said anything stronger than ‘bloody’; he did not smoke or drink. Cathal Brugha neither cursed, smoke nor drank. Collins was adept at all three.

1920 – life in a flying column.

Soon I learned to dread bacon and cabbage. The bacon was often home-cured. It hung in long narrow flitches on hooks in the smoke-blackened ceiling where it seasoned. It was fat – and I did not like fat. At home I was told it was good for me and I had tried to hide it under potato skins, cover it with bones or get it into a piece of paper in my pocket. The cabbage was boiled a long time and it was not strained. I ate the ‘mate’ – as it was called – because I did not want to offend the people. They were kind – they had taken more care with my food – and they would consider me stuck-up. They were very sensitive as a rule. For two years I ate bacon and cabbage or, if I had the option, changed to tea and an egg. Sometimes the tea was stewed. The pot ‘took a heat’ by the fire from the early breakfast or was allowed to draw too long. Strong tea that a mouse could trot on. Stewed tea took away hunger.

December 1920 – interrogation

'They brought me through a long passage and seated me on a wooden form. They tied my hands and legs as before; I felt trussed. They put a cloth across my eyes. I heard the voices of men singing and the tinkle of glass. I must have been near the canteen. Men stopped to threaten me, some said, ‘We’ll put you through it for Macroom.’ A few walked in their heavy boots on my stockinged feet. My toes were crushed; some stamped hard with the full weight of their legs on instep and toes. They lifted their boots again and came down on the same place; I tensed my body to stop myself from moaning. Two guards jabbed me a few times with their bayonets below my ribs on the abdominal muscles. Blood dribbled down my buttocks and legs. Other prisoners were brought in; they were kicked and beaten; some of them shouted in pain. I could not walk when I was told to move on. The guard lifted me, carried me along and flung me into a room. My head struck the stone floor and I was dazed.'

Hitchcock's classic The Birds

50 years ago this week, Alfred Hitchcock’s film “The Birds” premiered in New York City.

It was partly based on a novella by Daphne Du Maurier, but Hitchcock was also inspired by real-life stories of seabirds attacking a town in California. Depicting the famous scenes of violent bird attacks was technically challenging for the director and at times traumatic for the actors.

Lorcan Clancy explored the difficulties involved in bringing the idea to the big screen.


Irish Easter Food Traditions

Irish Easter Food Traditions

By the time this programme was broadcast on Easter Sunday evening, people around the country will probably have sampled at least one of the foods commonly associated with the day that’s in it.

But what are the origins of our Easter food traditions and which ones have died out?

Rhona Tarrant spoke to people in Kerry about Easter customs there and one of the Easter Sunday treats some older folk mentioned were boiled eggs.

Restaurant critic of The Irish Times, Catherine Cleary talked about why boiled eggs were eaten – along with traditions around lamb, Easter cakes and of course, chocolate eggs.

Catherine Cleary's History of Irish Easter Food

Language Bites

Colette Kinsella explores the origins of the phrase "to get off on a wrong foot".

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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