The History Show

The History Show

Sunday, 6pm

The History Show Sunday 13 October 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

The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

“Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.”

“If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.”

“Never was anything great achieved without danger.”

“It is much safer to be feared than loved because is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.”

“The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.”

Above are a selection of quotes from The Prince written in the year 1513 by the Italian diplomat, historian and political theorist, Niccolo Machiavelli.

This political handbook for rulers has been used for many centuries and his theories on governing people have influenced leaders down through history. The word Machiavelli has become synonymous with cunning tyrants and in contemporary business and political circles, his name stands for the principle that winning is all that matters, no matter how this is achieved.

The Prince is one of the few works that has survived the test of time and it’s our November Book Club choice. Our guests are medieval historian, Gillian Kenny and Minister Alex White TD and former senator Joe O’Toole.

When it was first written in the 16th century, The Prince was dedicated to Lorenzo de’Medici who was the ruler of Florence. Gillian – can you put that time and why Machiavelli wrote the book into context for us?

DNA Testing to Trace Ancestry

DNA Testing to Trace Ancestry

When Cromwell was busy rounding up the dishevelled and vanquished Irish to send them further west than Connacht to the new colonies of the Caribbean, he didn’t spend too much time noting down their ancestral lines and townlands of origins.

In the 1650s, it’s estimated that 50,000 Irish were sent as slaves to the West Indies.

The descendants of these Caribbean Irish settled mainly in Jamaica, Barbados and Montserrat. However anyone of Irish or part Irish origin there today, who might want to trace their family tree, is in a pretty hopeless situation because of the scarcity of documentary evidence… the paper trail.

Hope and history however maybe about to rhyme thanks to the work of genetic genealogists and citizen scientists as our reporter Angie Mezzetti has been finding out.

Any time we talk about genealogy on this programme, we’re inundated with queries from people trying to trace their ancestry.

Very often, a major sticking point is the end of a paper trail or indeed, no paper trail at all, as those people in Montserrat described.

But all is not lost. DNA testing can fill in the blanks going back thousands of years. Dr. Maurice Gleeson joined Myles to discuss the accuracy of DNA testing and what sort of information it can tell people about their ancestry or ethnic make-up.

DNA and the Irish - Ireland's first genetic genealogy conference.

Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013 is a 3-day series of lectures and presentations on DNA and its usefulness in Irish family tree research. The presentations are sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA, organised by ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogists), and scheduled to run at the Back to Our Past exhibition at the RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin from Oct 18-20.

DNA and genealogy
More than one million people around the world have had their DNA tested as part of their family tree research and it has helped them break through "brick walls" where the paper trail of traditional records is either absent or has failed to help any further. This is particularly relevant to Irish research where there is a relative lack of documentary evidence prior to 1800. DNA testing has become increasingly affordable in recent years with basic tests available for as little as 40 euro.

Irish DNA Research
There has been a flurry of interest in DNA in Ireland over the last ten years and some incredible work has been undertaken by passionate Irish genealogists (many working independently and voluntarily) which is changing the way we think about ourselves. Many of these enthusiasts will be speaking at the conference on their own particular projects and how it has informed not only their own family tree research but how it sheds new light on a variety of Clan histories, Irish surnames, and their origins and evolution.

The international panel of speakers will discuss topics which include a basic introduction to DNA testing, early and later migrations into Ireland (Gael, Norman, Viking, Scotch, English), connecting with the Irish in America, and individual Clan and surname projects with names that cover the entire island. As well as talks on the Tribes of Galway, and the Munster Irish, Prof Dan Bradley will discuss his unit's work relating to the genetic signature of people in northwest Ireland and the correlation with Niall of the Nine Hostages. Details are available on the dedicated website - Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013 at

These DNA lectures will complement the programme of traditional genealogical presentations organised by APGI and sponsored by (the Irish Family History Foundation).

DNA testing at BTOP
This is the fourth year of the Back to Our Past exhibition which last year attracted 20,000 visitors and over 250 exhibitors. This year FamilyTreeDNA have a stand at the exhibition and will be offering DNA testing at discounted prices. This is the first time that DNA testing will be offered directly to the Irish public at the exhibition.

So if you happen to find yourself in Dublin in October, come along and have a DNA test - it may connect you with long lost cousins you never knew you had. Entrance to the entire exhibition and conference only costs €5 if booked in advance online via the BTOP website at

Check here for Dr. Maurice Gleeson answers questions about DNA testing

Arson at the Crossroads!

Arson at the Crossroads!

Many people think that De Valera’s famous 1943 St. Patrick’s Day speech outlining his vision of a frugal contented Ireland mentioned comely maidens dancing at the crossroads. It didn’t. But dancing at the crossroads remained a popular form of entertainment well into the 20th century. It faded with the arrival of large rural ballrooms in the 1960s.

The Department of Justice files from the 1930s shed a different light on this apparently innocuous past time.

Many of the files deal with the destruction for the platforms set up for the dancers, to give them a smooth surface on which to demonstrate their skills.

In the 1930s, these platforms became flashpoints for disputes between Fianna Fail, newly in power after a decade in opposition, and the League of Youth, otherwise known as the Blueshirts.

A good way to get back at your political opponents was to burn their dance platforms. Most of the destruction seems to have been carried out by Fianna Fail, or remnants of the anti-Treaty IRA. The practise was so widespread that it came up for question in the Dail.

The two sample files discussed by Catriona Crowe of the National Archives illustrate the differing issues which caused the destruction of these platforms.

The first letter relates to an incident in Inchigeela, Co. Cork in 1934. In this case, disagreement between Fianna Fail and the Blueshirts seems to have hinged on musical choice rather than politics: one side wanted to play jazz! The Parish Priest intervened – he would most likely have opposed both dancing and, particularly, jazz, which was seen as the music of the devil.

The second set of letters deal with a platform at Tullohea, near Grangemockler in Co. Tipperary, and hinges on competition for custom between rival platforms, the possible involvement of the mother of a young lady who “got into trouble”, dark silence from all involved, both victims and suspects, and a very zealous policeman, Sean O’Fiodhabhair, who wasn’t inclined to let the case go.

Rostrevor Conference

Rostrevor Conference

International Conference: ‘Game Changers – Personalities and Pivotal Moments in the Napoloeonic Wars and the War of 1812′

October 18 - 20

Seeking to bridge these two interlinked wars by examining some of the key characters and moments in each.

Whether on the plains of Maida in 1806, when his famous 20th Regiment played a key role in defeating Napoleon’s ‘Invincibles’, or in his amphibious assault on Washington which promised for a time to be of game changing importance (only for his death at Baltimore to be a pivotal moment in the War of 1812) Robert Ross proved to be a key military figure.

For more information visit:

Lockout Exhibitions at the National Museum

Lockout Exhibitions at the National Museum

1913 Lockout: Impact & Aftermath

Banners Unfurled

Lockout: The Tapestry

Venue: The Riding School, National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks, Dublin 7.

November Book Club

Our November Book Club choice is:

All Quiet on the Western Front, a novel by Erich Maria Remarque

Erich Remarque was a German veteran of World War I.  His book describes life in the trenches from the German soldier’s perspective and the detachment from civilian life felt by many of these soldiers upon returning home from the front.

We’ll be discussing All Quiet on the Western Front published by Vintage on Remembrance Sunday, the 10th of November.

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

Ways to Listen

Radio Player