Let Radio Furnish the Entertainment

Let Radio Furnish the Entertainment


Featured below are radio podcasts on labour and class on the RTÉ website.

We’ve organised them here as follows (i) Magdalens & other institutions, (ii) Miners & mining (iii) Rural labourers, (iv) Other occupations, (v) Factory closures, (vi) Cooperatives, (vii) Biographies, (viii) Radical movements & moments, (ix) Fighting for the Republic, (x) Street life, (xi) Irish abroad.

We’ve also had a preliminary look at BBC documentaries available as podcasts, and have added links to some dozens of documentaries and interviews, including significant bodies of material on coal mining, working class Britain, feminism, the NHS, and gay rights.

Happy listening! And please reply with links to anything else that should be included!

‘Close the Door – Magdalen Laundries’. Documentary on women of Sean McDermott St Magdalen Laundry

‘Magdalen Laundry Institute for Outcast Women’: 1992 documentary on Galway Magdalen Laundry, prompted (probably) by Patricia Burke Brogan’s ‘Eclipsed’ and featuring the playwright

‘The runners’. Documentary about ‘The Northside Oscar Schindler’ who helped child convicts escape from industrial schools in the 1960s

‘The orphans that never were’. Documentary on 1943 tragedy in which 35 girls died in fire in Poor Clare Orphanage in Cavan

‘This Place Speaks To Me’: Dublin actor/musician Don Baker spent 2 years at Daingean Reformatory in Offaly from 1963 to 1965. 35yrs after leaving, Don revisits the now notorious institution.

‘Moles of Moneenroe’. 1979 documentary on coalminers of Castlecomer

‘There’s still coal in Coalisland’. 1970 documentary on East Tyrone coalfields

‘From the Miners to Posterity’: 1972 documentary on mining in Arigna, Leitrim, in which miners talk about conditions in mines before unionisation, dangers including diseases & accidents & family tradition among miners

‘The long strike’. Documentary on divisive 1968 strike in Arigna mines, Co Leitrim, in pursuit of 5-day-week

‘Days of the servant boy’. 1997 documentary dealing with hiring fairs and conditions of farm servants

‘Bound by regulations’. Documentary on the Strabane hiring fair

‘When the bloom was in the flax’. 1978 documentary on linen industry in Ireland

‘The stonies’. 1978 documentary on stonemasons, stonecutters and sculptors

‘Fading echoes’. 2003 documentary on newspaper boys of Cork and Dublin

‘The Permanent Way’: 1985 documentary on railway men as told by people who have worked the tracks, telling the story of rail transit in Ireland from steam to electric

‘Silver Strings’: 1997 documentary about Donegal Herring Gutters

‘Giant on the Lagan’. 1978 documentary on the Harland & Wolff shipyard

‘In the Shadow of New Forest’: 2001 documentary by Seamus Kelly about the New Forest estate in County Galway and the people who lived and worked there.

To A Nunnery Gone’: 1979 documentary on daily lives of nuns

‘Factory lives’. Six part series covering factory closures over six decades: Lockes’ Distillery, Kilbeggan; Dundalk shoe factory; Ferenka, Limerick; Castlebar Bacon Factory, Digital, Galway, and Fruit of the Loom, Buncrana

‘I Try Not to Think of the Future’: Closure of Fieldcrest plant in Kilkenny, 1982, featuring people who were affected most by its closure

‘I remember Henry Ford’: 1982 documentary on Fords in Cork, for generations a hugely successful company with an amazingly loyal workforce. Everything dates back to the Model T – yet despite surviving through most of the 20th century, its days were numbered

‘Where the Fisherman Strays’: 1978 documentary on battle for the right to fish on Lough Neagh, which belonged to a succession of aristocratic families, until they were bought out by a local co-operative in 1972

‘Paddy the Cope’. 1977 documentary on the founder of the Templecrone Cooperative, Co Donegal, in 1906

‘The Ballyfermot Cooperative’: 2001 documentary about radical 1952 Ballyfermot Co-Operative

‘The Gralton Affair’. 1977 documentary on Leitrim-born Jim Gralton, deported from Ireland in 1930s for his communist activism

‘The Rebel Countess’: Members of Countess Constance Markievicz’s family discuss the woman behind the ‘rebel’.

‘Peadar O’Donnell at 90’. 1983 documentary on the veteran socialist republicans

‘The staunchest priest’. 1976 documentary on the radical republican, Fr Michael O’Flanagan (1876-1942), one of the very few priests to support the Spanish Republic

‘The last brigadista’: A documentary on Irish man, Ned Murphy, believed to be the last survivor of the Irish Brigade which fought for Franco in the Spanish Civil War.

The Larkin way’. Documentary on union leader and Labour politician, James Larkin Jr.

‘Tribute to Liam O’Flaherty’: Liam O’Flaherty, novelist and short story writer, was a major figure in 20th century Irish culture. Born on the Aran Islands, Liam was a native Irish speaker. Many of his works have the common theme of nature and Ireland. (1984)

‘Undoing The Folded Lie’: South African freedom fighter Kader Asmal lived in exile in Dublin for nearly thirty years. He was driving force behind Irish Anti-Apartheid movement.

‘How far have they travelled’. Documentary on O’Donovans, a Traveller family

‘Letter to Ann’: Award winning documentary tells story of Anne Lovett, a 15-year-old schoolgirl from Granard, Longford, who died giving birth beside a grotto in 1984.

‘The tale of Sean and Mick’. 1968 documentary on Sean O’Casey, including interviews with some who grew up with him

‘The Limerick Soviet’: 1974 documentary on soviet that operated for twelve days in Limerick in April 1919.

‘Down with Jazz’. 1987 documentary on efforts of a Leitrim priest to ban jazz in the 1930s

‘The Communist party of Ireland’: 1983 documentary covering aspects of history of communism in Ireland.

‘The Internationalists’: In the 1980s a significant number of Irish people, students, workers and unemployed, went to Nicaragua to assist the Sandista revolutionary effort

‘The week of the Rising’: 1966 documentary told by those who took part in the 1916 Rising, made from archive recordings made by Proinsias Mac Aonghusa in the 1960’s, broadcast during the 50th anniversary commemoration.

‘To the stonebreakers yard’: 1999 documentary about Kilmainham Gaol and its place in Irish history. It held, throughout the years, many famous Nationalists and Republicans

‘The sky ran away’: Documentary on Tommy McKearney, a 1980’s Provisional IRA prisoner and John Nixon, a then member of the INLA – two men’s experience of their years on the blanket and the inevitability of hunger strike.

‘One Potato, Two Potato, Three’: 1977 documentary with Pat Ingoldsby who goes looking for the street songs and games sung and played by Dublin children.

‘The animal gangs’. 2012 documentary on Dublin street gangs of the 1930s

‘Return to Foley Street Dublin Bootboys’: Pat Kenny returned to Foley Street in 1988 to find out what had happened to bootboys originally featured in a 1975 documentary

‘Out of their feeling: the Famine girls’. 2001 documentary on the 4000 poor Irish girls sent to Australia after the Great Famine

‘Sons of Molly’. 1979 documentary on the Molly Maguires, a branch of an Irish agrarian secret society active in Pennsylvania coalfields in the 1870s

‘The tattie hokers: the migrant workers of North Mayo. Two documentaries from 2005

‘Irish Mail’: 1954 documentary on famous ‘Irish mail’ route – London to Dublin – the main connection between Ireland and London in 1950’s Ireland.

‘The Newfoundland Connection’: 2003 documentary on connections which, since 1700s, have linked South-east of Ireland with Newfoundland’s Talamh an Éisc. Farmers, fishermen, storytellers and musicians help tell the story

‘Mutiny at Solon’: 1970 documentary on mutiny of Connaught Rangers, an Irish regiment in the British Army. In June 1920 whilst in Solon, India, 5 men began a protest against British atrocities in Ireland – ending in death and long imprisonments


‘Suffragettes Collection’: 18 items broadcast by BBC between 1937 and 1983, including interviews with pioneers of women’s suffrage movement in Britain

‘Second wave feminism collection’: 20 items broadcast between 1963 and 1992, including interviews with Betty Freidan, Kate Millett, Germaine Greer and Bella the welder.

‘Working class Britain collection’: 14 items, including 1959 interviews with working class Liverpudlians, and one from 1967 on how ‘working-class celebrities like Twiggy became fashionable’

‘The gay rights movement collection’: 30 items including ‘Male ‘Homosexual’ and ‘Lesbianism’, both interview-based and from 1965.

‘Coal mining in Britain collection’: 21 items covering individual collieries and disputes from 1921 to 1984-85

‘Birth of the National Health Service Collections’: 19 items, including 1942 Beveridge broadcast


‘The Conversation of your life’: 2009 documentary on an American oral history project

‘Memory wars’: 2-part 2010 documentary by Alan Dein exploring how oral history collides with the ‘official’ history of the history books

‘Marching into history’: Two-part documentary from 2010 on history of the protest march, starting in Tolpuddle, Dorset, in 1834

‘William Morris and the Muslims’: 2009 documentary on the influence of Islamic art on the influential English socialist designer/craftsman

‘Living With Chico Mendes’: 2008 documentary on founder of rubber tappers union & environmental activist assassinated in 1988

The City That Sacked its Staff: 2010 documentary on city of Maywood in California, which sacked all its workers

‘New York’s Catholics’: 2010 documentary on how Hispanics are challenging Irish America

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