The History Show

Sunday, 6pm

The History Show Sunday 18 April 2021

The History Show

The History Show

On this week's programme - the Irish man who designed the White House; Jane Ohlmeyer on Ireland and Empire; and Harry Houdini's exploits in Ireland.

The Irishman Who Designed The White House

The Irishman Who Designed The White House

To begin this evening, we're looking at the origin of one of the world’s most well-known buildings – The White House in Washington D.C. It’s one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world, yet few know the name or story of the Irish man responsible for its design and construction.

Born in 1755, James Hoban spent his childhood years in Desart, Cuffesgrange, County Kilkenny – the son of a tenant farmer. As a teenager, he moved to Dublin and studied at the Dublin Society Drawing School, and later emigrated to the United States in 1785, a couple of years after the end of the American Revolutionary War.

The architect’s life and work are the subject of a new anthology called James Hoban: Designer and Builder of the White House. It’s edited by Stewart D. McLaurin, President of the White House Historical Association. Stewart spoke to our reporter Colm Flynn.

The White House Historical Association is offering free shipping to Irish customers purchasing the book from their site until June - click here to visit their website.

Ireland and Empire

Ireland and Empire

Myles is joined by Professor Jane Ohlmeyer of Trinity College Dublin, to talk about her recent lecture series Ireland, Empire, and the Early Modern World. The lectures were this year's annual James Ford Lecture series from Oxford University.

The focus of the six lectures is on Ireland and the First English Empire (c.1550-1770s), but they also look to other European and global empires for meaningful comparisons and contrasts, and explore how we wrestle with the legacy of empire in modern times.

The lectures are available to watch online here at RTE History.

Harry Houdini in Ireland

Harry Houdini in Ireland

Almost a century after his death, the name Harry Houdini is synonymous with illusion, showmanship, and death defying feats. In the early twentieth century, his escape stunts were a sensation.

Audiences would watch in fascinated awe as he broke free of shackles while submerged in water, or worked himself out of a straitjacket while suspended from a tall building. What you might not know is that the Hungarian-born escape artist has a few connections to Ireland.

Marc McMenamin reports on Houdini's exploits in Ireland and his enigmatic death. We also hear from historian Aaron O'Maonaigh and magician Rua (Paul Gleeson).

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. 

Music Played on the Show

Copos De Nieve 2

Copos De Nieve 2

Christopher Slaski


Death Defying Suite

Death Defying Suite

Cezary Skubiszewski




Contact the Show

Presenter: Myles Dungan

Producer: Lorcan Clancy

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