Reputations

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Issue 4 (Jul/Aug 2005), News, News, Volume 13

One of the successes of last year’s ‘Contesting History’ course in Trinity College (sponsored by History Ireland and running on Monday evenings for eighteen weeks from October 2004) was not just the debates that were stimulated on the night but also the homage that is being paid to it in an upcoming RTÉ Radio series, Reputations. RTÉ broadcaster Myles Dungan (Rattlebag, Mon.–Fri. 2.45pm, Radio 1) was a frequent attender and loved the format of ‘Contesting History’ so much (two guest lecturers taking opposing viewpoints on controversial areas of Irish history) that he candidly admits to having stolen it for his Reputations series. The idea here is that two historians take up opposing views on half a dozen of the most controversial figures in Irish history—Pearse, Parnell, O’Connell, Tone, Hugh O’Neill and Dermot McMurrough. They act, in effect, as prosecution and defence counsel for their particular ‘client’.
In the first programme Ruth Dudley Edwards, biographer of Patrick Pearse, and Senator Martin Mansergh, former government adviser, get to grips with the reputation of the 1916 leader. Roy Foster and Paul Bew tackle Charles Stewart Parnell. The reputation of Daniel O’Connell is questioned by Tom Bartlett and defended by Kevin Whelan. Tom Dunne and Patrick Geoghegan (one of the two convenors of the ‘Contesting History’ series) do battle over Wolfe Tone. Ciarán Brady (the other convenor) and Tadhg Ó Hannracháin discuss the merits and demerits of Hugh O’Neill, while Elva Johnston and Edel Bhreathnach feature in the final programme on Dermot McMurrough.

The series will be broadcast from 26 July on Tuesdays at 11.00am on RTÉ Radio 1.

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