Fin Dwyer

Irish History Podcast

tellin it like it was
Irish History Podcast


The Irish History Podcast brings you on a journey through Ireland's fascinating past. This podcast is not just dates but an enthralling account of Ireland's history, looking at daily life through the ages. The show is currently focused on the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s (see below), while the archive contains the stories of Ireland's ancient High Kings, Viking raiders and the Norman Invasion of the Middle Ages. The story of the Great Famine has proved the most popular to date, Between 1845 and 1851, during one of the worst Famine's in modern history one million Irish people died. The podcast looks at how this happened and who was responsible. The series also tells the story of the survivors. From rebellion to riots & evictions to emigration when you download the show you embark on a facinating and vivid journey to the world your ancestors lived in. These events not only changed Ireland but also numerous countries across the globe. Irish famine emigrants established communities in the USA, Britain, Canada, Australia and further afield. This series is the story of your ancestors who lived through world changing events.



Society & Culture



Apr 3, 2020 00:01:44


Calling Irish History Fans!

Test your knowledge against listeners from across the world on April 11th. I will be hosting an online history table quiz on YouTube. Listeners from the US, Canada, the UK & Irleand have already signed up so global bragging rights are on offer!

Registration is free but essential at

While the quiz is free but I am urging participants to donate to the Mater Foundation

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A History of Coffee (Part I 1000-1845)

Mar 30, 2020 00:34:14


The Irish coffee industry generates hundreds of million of euros every year. This is a pretty recent development - when I was growing up in the 1980s and 1990s the only coffee available was instant coffee. 

However Ireland's relationship with coffee did not begin in the last 20 years. If anything this is the second or even third wave of coffee culture to hit this country. In this show I Iook at the early history of coffee tracing the origins of the drink in Ireland back to the 17th century

This will bring us inside the coffee houses of 18th century Dublin when coffee was an elite drink in society.

This episode also lifts the lid on a darker side to the Irish history of coffee – in the second half of the show I interview Cuban researcher Giselle Gonzalez Garcia who is researching the history of an Irish man who became one of the largest coffee producers in Cuba in the early 19th century.

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Preparing for a Pandemic in 1900

Mar 27, 2020 00:08:36


We are all taking precautionary measures to avoid Covid-19, but this is not the first time humans have faced such threats. This short episode looks at the story of the humorous but frantic preparations that took place in 1900 when Ireland faced an potential outbreak of bubonic plague.

Its will sound strangely familiar!

The next episode of the podcast is part I of the Irish history of coffee. To get exclusive early access to that episode and all bonus podcasts and audiobooks (including an audiobook on the Black Death in Ireland check out

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Voices from a Vanishing World - The Aran Islands 1901

Mar 23, 2020 00:25:16


Between 1898 and 1902, the Irish playwright John Millington Synge spent several summers on the Aran Islands. Shaped by the harsh environment of the North Atlantic Ocean the islanders lived in a unique society. Old customs and traditions that had died in many parts of Ireland still survived on the islands. 

Synge left a mesmerising account of island life and this podcast transports you back to the summer of 1901. You will hear the vivid descriptions of a society so different it is hard to believe it existed into the 20th century. 

It is a time and place that is now lost and gone forever.

John Millington Synge's words are read by Aidan Crowe

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Murder Will Out - A Land to Die For (Part II)

Mar 16, 2020 00:27:01


In the last episode (A Land to Die For Part I) we followed the story of William Sheehan. Raised in a community obsessed with land he had become involved in a violent dispute over his family farm after his eviction in 1882. By late 1883 Sheehan, wanting a fresh start, had emigrated to New Zealand. However he could not escape his violent past. Within months of his arrival news reached New Zealand he was wanted for murder in Ireland

This episode reveals who Sheehan had killed and the sensational trial that followed...

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A Land to Die For (Part I)

Mar 10, 2020 00:29:01


Land has been the cause of some of the most vicious feuds and brutal murders in modern irish history. Often portrayed as the poor tenant farmer against powerful landlords, the real stories were often more complex. In a society where people developed what was an unhealthy obsession with land there were all too many willing to kill friends family and neighbours over it. 

The sentiments which fuelled this were epitomised in John B Keane play and later an Oscar nominated movie The Field, where the central the Bull McCabe who commits murders over land says 

It's my field. It's my child. I nursed it. I nourished it. I saw to its every want. I dug the rocks out of it with my bare hands and I made a living thing of it! My only want is that green grass, that lovely green grass, and you want to take it away from me, and in the sight of God I can't let you do that.

While the Bull McCabe was a fictional character that story was based on real life events. Indeed every county in Ireland had its own story of a land related murder.

This podcast tells one - a feud over a farm outside the East Cork town of Castletownroche. Taking places in the decades after the famine this dispute resulted in the deaths of four people. Buried for nearly a century and half this story is told for the first time in this two part podcast. 

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Dublin 1916: The calm before the storm

Feb 26, 2020 00:35:00


The year 1916 is known for one event in Irish history – the Easter Rising. However as that fateful weekend approached most Dubliners were oblivious to the fact that their city stood on the threshold of history. This podcast focuses on three of those Dubliners, and takes look around their city on the eve of the rising, revealing what the city looked like, sounded like and even smelled like!

This podcast is a journey into the houses of the most wealthy citizens to the homes of those struggling at the margins. We will move from prisons to workhouses and garner a sense of what Dublin was like on the eve of the most famous chapter in its long history. 

Tickets for the 10th anniversary live podcast are available now at

Merch is available at

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Nazi Loot & Soviet Spies - Ireland in the Summer of '63

Feb 3, 2020 00:25:04


This podcast transports you back to Ireland during the summer of 1963. This was a fascinating time; JFK visited Ireland, 1% of the population were priests or nuns and instead of downloading Tinder you found love in the classifieds of a newspaper! Rumours of hidden Nazi treausre from World War II was headline news while a Third World War with the Soviet Union seemed imminent.

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On the Lash! A history of drinking in Ireland

Jan 27, 2020 00:30:21


**I have a live show coming up at Kino, Cork on February 6th, 2020. You can get tickets here**

First built in 1582, the Hole in the Wall pub in Kilkenny was the perfect location to record this episode. I was joined by DJ Walsh of the podcast Snugcast and we looked at the history of drinking in Ireland. 

Starting in the late Middle Ages, this podcast is a whistlestop tour through Irish drinking habits over 800 years. Myself and DJ talk about what Irish people drink and how this has changed. We also picked apart the reasons for Ireland's deeply problematic atttitude to alcohol. 

The podcast finishes with a discussion on drinking habits in Ireland in the 21st Century. 

Thanks to DJ Walsh of Snugcast! 

You can hear DJ's podcast below 



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Dunmore Cave & Viking Massacres: A history from the Underworld.

Jan 20, 2020 00:40:15


Tickets for my upcoming show in Cork City on Feb 8th 2020 are available now at


This history of Dunmore cave is mysterious and gripping. Around the year 930 the Vikings massacred large numbers of people in a battle fought around the cave. By the 18th century some of the earliest explorers found large numbers of human remains scattered across this extensive tunnel system. While this may be evidence of a brutal Viking massacre, recent archaeological excavations and analysis have suggested the full story may be more complex.

In this episode myself and the archaeologist Neil Jackman joined guide John McInerney and ventured into Dunmore Cave to record a show in this fascinating location and look at its dark and gripping history.

Neil Jackman is the host of Amplifiy Archaeology a podcast on Irish Archaeology. I can't recommend this show enough. 

John McInerney is the head guide at Dunmore Cave. You can find out more about Dunmore Cave at

Help create the upcoming series on the Irish War of Independence -

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I need your advice!

Jan 14, 2020 00:02:30


I have exciting plans for 2020. Amongst other things I will be starting a major series on the Irish War of Independence. However I need your advice on what shape this wil. Tune in to find out whats coming up in the next few months and how you can help me design this new series.

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The Rise and Fall of Carrickmines Castle

Dec 17, 2019 00:38:21


When creating episodes I normally try to tell wider events in Irish history by focusing on the lives of an individual person. This podcast takes a different approach. I interview Dr Mark Clinton about the history of one specific place - Carrickmines Castle. Mark lead the excavations that unearthed the ruins of the castle destroyed in the 17th century.

By focusing on this castle we were able to have a wide ranging conversation that covers centuries of history. We began with the Norman Invasion, made our way through the origins of sectarian tensions in Ireland before looking at a brutal siege and massacre during the 1640s. Then we finally finished by looking at the destruction of archaeological sites in Ireland in the 21st Century.

You can get Mark's book Carrickmines Castle - Rise and Fall in all good bookshops. This is the final episode for 2019. Thanks for tuning in throughout the year - it means alot to me. I hope you and yours have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.


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An Irish Rebel in Spain (The War Begins) Partisans #4

Dec 9, 2019 00:35:38


In July 1936 Peadar O'Donnell, a veteran of the Irish war of Independence and civil war travelled to Spain on holiday. He was among those caught up in the opening stages of the Spanish Civil War. He witnessed the chaotic opening phase of the conflict providing gripping eye witness detail. As this podcast reveals O'Donnell was in Barcelona and was both inspired and horrified by what he saw. The city was convulsed by an attempted coup, a socialist revolution and extreme anticlerical violence all within one week!

We also hear the perspective of the Irish priest Alexander McCabe who had very different political views and sympathies to O'Donnell. The famous writer english writer George Orwell also makes an appearance in what is a gripping story of war and revolution.

Created by Fin Dwyer & Stewart Reddin

Narrations by Oliver Farry, Paul Walker-Emig and Finbar Cafferkey

Support the podcast:

Social: @irishhistory on Insta and twitter


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The Communist Partisan (Partisans #3)

Dec 2, 2019 00:28:38


In this episode we continue the story of the Irish people who fought in the Spanish Civil War. Our focus turns to the life of Bob Doyle. A member of the IRA and later a communist his life explains why people went on to fight against fascism in Spain. Beginning with his early childhood set to the backdrop of grinding poverty in Dublin slums, the podcast is an evocative and fascinating journey through one family's experience of the struggle for Irish Independence and the decades that followed.

Along the way we will find ourselves in riots with fascists in the streets of Dublin and conflict within the IRA in the 1930s which led many of it's activists to Spain.

Partisans is listener support history. You can support the show at

Check out my new Irish history badges available at

twitter & insta @irishhistory

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Partisans #2 Aileen O'Brien (Irish Stories from the Spanish Civil War)

Nov 25, 2019 00:26:29


This is the second episode in the series Partisans - Irish Stories from the Spanish Civil War. In this podcast we meet our first partisan Aileen O'Brien, a 22 year old Irish American who moved to Ireland in 1935. O'Brien was always a mysterious figure - her contemporaries were never quite sure what to make of her. Some considered her a fascist, others thought her a naive catholic while intelligence agenices suspected she may have been a covert arms dealer. 

Unsurprisingly not long after she arrived in Ireland Aileen's activities attracted the attention of the Irish police and eventually even military intelligence. Using never before seen archives this podcast follows O'Brien's life up until the summer of 1936. Her strange and intriguing life is an insight into far right activism in 1930s ireland and explains why many Irish people supported the fascist coup in Spain in July 1936.

Support the show

Partisans is created by myself Fin Dwyer and Stewart Reddin. 

Logo design - Keith Hynes

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The long road to Stalingrad: The origins of the Spanish Civil War

Nov 18, 2019 00:26:25


This is the first episode of Partisans, a new weekly series created by myself and Stewart Reddin. While the series focuses on the experiences of Irish people in the Spanish Civil War, this episode sets the scene. It explains the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, the crisis that consumed Spanish politics in the 1930s and the far reaching implications of that conflict not least for people in Ireland.

The show starts however at one of the greatest battles in history...

This series has taken months of research which has only been possible due to the support of listeners like you on patreon

@irishhistory Twitter & Insta

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Rescuing History: The Four Courts Explosion

Nov 14, 2019 00:23:51


**My new weekly series 'Partisans: Irish Stories from the Spanish Civil War' launches on Monday Nov 18th**

This bonus show looks at a famous event that haunts Irish history - the Four Courts Explosion. In June 1922 during the opening phase of the Irish Civil War, the Public Records Office was destroyed in a massive explosion that rocked Dublin City Centre. Several centuries of Irish historical records had been stored in the building, most of which were incinerated. In this episode I explain the background to the explosion and what was lost. Then in the second part of the podcast I visit the National Archives on Bishop Street where I meet Zoe Reid who works restoring items rescued from the site in the aftermath of the explosion.

Thanks to Zoe Reid ( for taking the time to talk to me & Joanne Carrol in the National Library for her help in organising this episode.

For more details on Explore Your Archive Week mention in the podcast check out

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The Partisans are coming!

Oct 30, 2019 00:04:49


On November the 18th my new podcast series 'Partisans' begins. Created by mysef and Stewart Reddin it looks at the fascinating stories of Irish people who fought in Spanish Civil War. Tune in to find out more...

Thanks to Keith Hynes for the Artwork

Badges available at

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The Mater Hospital: Where History is Made

Oct 21, 2019 00:50:13


The Mater Hospital in Dublin first opened its doors in 1861. It has a fascinating although often forgotten history. From using cocaine as pain relief in the 19th century to treating the wounded of the 1916 Rising, the hospital has always been a fascinating place.

Strange as it sounds, it is also where I first came up with the idea to start podcasting. In 2010 having been diagnosed with Crohn's disease I was unable to work and to keep myself occupied I started making this show. Fast forward ten years and nearly 20 operations, podcasting has now become my full time career.

In this show I return to the Mater to look at the extraordinary history of the hospital. In what is a very special episode recorded in the old victorian wing, I look at what the hospital was like in the late 19th century. The archivist Helen Madden gives fascinating insights into

What was 19th century operations were like.What was hospital food like in the early days?How the Mater treated those injured in the 1916 Rising.The story of the republican hunger-striker Thomas Ashe who died in the Mater in 1917.How tensions rose between the hospital staff and the IRA during the War of Independence after a patient in a nearby hospital was executed!

I also interviewed Prof Ronan Cahill about the extraordinary history being made in the Mater today through the use of robotics and AI.

I would like to thank Helen Madden & Professor Ronan Cahill for taking the time to talk to me and Debbie Killeen for her work in making this episode possible.

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Muriel McSwiney: A Forgotten Revolutionary

Oct 11, 2019 00:31:33


Muriel McSwiney is a fascinating if tragic and forgotten figure in Irish history. Born in 1892 into one of Cork's wealthiest families, she rejected the privilege this life offered her. She first became a radical republican playing a key role in the War of Independence before becoming a communist in the 1920s. This podcast tells her story.


I have just released a set of unique metal and enamel badges depicting some of the key figures in Irish history over the last 1000 years. They include

Brian Boru

Dermot MacMurrough

Hugh O'Neill

Grace O'Malley

Michael Davitt

Constance Markievicz

Get yours today at

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Winners & Losers - How the Great Hunger Ended

Sep 19, 2019 00:32:42


'Winners & Losers' looks at the how the Great Famine came to an end. It's set to the backdrop of a News Year's Eve Ball held in Kilkenny Castle on December 31st 1850. The castle was home to the Marquis & Marchioness of Ormonde, who had invited what was considered the elite of Kilkenny to the ball. 

However behind the finery and wealth on display we will see how the Great Famine continued to affect life in Ireland into the 1850s. 

From guests at the ball to the impoverished weavers of Kilkenny, it would be several years before the Great Hunger truly came to an end.

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Jack the Ripper & Irish Connections

Sep 2, 2019 00:32:35


Jack the Ripper brutally murdered five women in the Whitechapel area of London in the Autumn of 1888. While his identity remains a mystery, these murders have haunted our imaginations ever since. The case has spawned an entire industry with countless books, films and podcasts along with a disturbing and crass tourist industry in London.

In spite of all this coverage, most of us know very little history about the case. The lives of the women, why they were killed, even their names is often lost in the endless speculation around the identity of the killer. In this special podcast I interview the historian Hallie Rubenhold. Her latest book 'The Five - The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper' brings the stories of the victims to the fore.

In this fascinating interview Hallie reveals a vivid account of working class life in Victorian England, along with the many Irish connections to the case. She also looks at how conspiracy theories have distorted the history of the murders.

Get the book on a free trial -

Get early access & ad-free versions at


*Production of the final famine episodes has been delayed so I have changed the scheduled again!*

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Brehon Law: From Divorce to Irish Sex Magic

Aug 16, 2019 00:33:30


Divorce and sex magic are not things we associate with medieval Ireland. However for over one thousand years Irish society was governed by a unique and radically different legal system called Brehon Law. In this podcast I interview Dr Gillian Kenny ( who explains what Brehon Law was and how it worked. She challenges widely held misconceptions and explains how divorce existed in medieval Ireland given it was banned in modern Ireland until 1995!.

And then of course there is the sex magic.

Tune in to find out more.


I am currently writing the second last famine episode which looks at how the Great Hunger came to an end. It focuses on my hometown of Kilkenny and the famous Fenian James Stephens who grew up here.

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Was the Great Famine a genocide? | The Great Famine XXXIII

Jul 31, 2019 00:38:42


This subject needs little by way of an introduction. It is one of the most controversial debates in Irish history. It continues to overshadow relations with our nearest neighbour - Great Britain.

In the 1840s one million Irish people died and another million famine refugees fled the island. The Irish population fell by 25% in less than a decade.

Over the past 25 years calls for the Great Famine to be defined as a genocide have gained in popularity. In this podcast I tackle the issue head answering whether British government policy and their actions in Ireland in the 1840s were genocidal.

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Three Lives, Three Deaths & One Life Unlived

Jul 16, 2019 00:39:27


(I am currently researching the final episodes in the Great Famine series. The next show on the Great Hunger is still two weeks away but in the meantime I have this pretty special bonus podcast.)


One of the things that makes medieval history so interesting is that the very basics of life are astounding and fascinating in equal measure. We are endlessly intrigued by

What did people ate?Life expectancyHow people died?What was healthcare like

In a few weeks a new exhibition opens in my hometown of Kilkenny in the Medieval Mile Museum. This exhibition is centred around skeletons of three people discovered during recent archaeological excavations in the city. This podcast interviews the team of experts behind the excavations in a warts and all look at the lives of our medieval ancestors. (Thanks to Colin O'Drisceoil, Dr Linda Lynch, Shiela Dooley & Grace Fegan for their time.

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Landlords & Mass Evictions - Exploiting the Great Hunger

Jul 5, 2019 00:49:24


During the Great Hunger over 250,000 people were evicted by their landlords. Most of these people were left destitute with little hope in an Ireland decimated by the Great Famine. In this podcast I look at the struggle that took place between tenants and landlords in the final phase of the Great Hunger. The show tries to understand why landlords and their agents acted in such a ruthless manner and why the government in London actually encouraged this process. This episode focuses in on the town of Kenmare and the surrounding Ring of Kerry to see how this played out in one community.

***My next live show in conjunction with Snugcast is on in Grady's Yard Waterford on July 13th. Tickets are free but are going fast - Get yours now at***

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The Beginning of the End & Queen Victoria in Ireland (1849)

Jun 17, 2019 00:54:59


In August 1849 Queen Victoria arrived in a famine ravaged Ireland. Contrary to what we might expect there were no protests and in many places the Queen received a rapturous welcome. However this only tells part of the story. This podcast takes you on a journey deep into one of Dublin's most notorious slums - St Michan's. There we follow the lives of a poor couple George and Bridget Shea. Their experience of the Great Famine was in its own unique way intertwined with the Victorias visit. 

This story provides us with an evocative, fascinating and revealing contrast to the royal visit while also explaining the strangely passive response to the monarch's arrival in Ireland. This episode also covers later 1849 as Dublin finally emerged from the Great Famine.

**I have two live shows coming up**

Dublin - The Stoneybatter Festival, June 22nd, 4.30 pm @ The Elbow Room, Stoneybatter

Waterford - Grady's Yard July 13th Waterford with Snugcast.

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Tyranny, Cruelty & Inhumanity - Surviving the Workhouse | The Famine in Clogheen Part II

May 23, 2019 00:50:05


This podcast (the second show on the town of Clogheen) introduces Richard Burke, a man who had a very unusual experience of the Great Famine. Between 1845 and 1848 he was the clerk of Clogheen Workhouse and Richard's life provide us with unique insights into this institution which was central to how the Great Hunger affected this community. The workhouse was where stories of kindness and cruelty played out side by side. The show includes an testimony from Michael Doody, an inmate in Clogheen Workhouse in 1848 which is a fascinating first hand account of life inside this building.

Overall workhouses had a huge impact in every community across Ireland during the late 1840s. The shocking statistic that one in three people who perished in the Famine (over 300,000 people) died in workhouses highlights their importance in the story of the Great Hunger. Richard Burke's experiences in Clogheen give us a greater understanding of why they were so important not only in this town but across ireland.

The next patrons-only podcast will focus on a fascinating murder mystery that relates to todays show. This will be exclusively available on

For Further reading I recommend Edmund O'Riordain's book The Famine in the Valley which is available for free online.

Corn, Gunpowder & Class Conflict - The Famine in Clogheen

May 2, 2019 00:47:44


This episode is a return of the Great Famine Series. Focusing on the town of Clogheen in South Tipperary, this two part episode follows the lives of three individuals Robert Davis, David Keane and Richard Burke. Their stories delve into the fascinating yet often violent struggle for survival in Ireland during the Great Famine. While the show focuses on Clogheen the accounts are reflective of wider experiences.

The podcasts also examines controversial topics such as the export of food and the violent resistence to those exports. I also reveal stories of those who profited during the famine and try to answer why many Irish people who seemed like decent people continued to export food in the midst of the famine. 

The show includes dozens of primary sources including two previously unpublished letters written from Clogheen and Boston giving a first hand perspective of what life for Irish people was like in the 1840s. I would like to thank Ted Reilly and Martin Nutty for their help in New York without whom this episode would not have been possible. 


Aidan Crowe read David Keane's Letters 

Maurcie Casery narrated Robert Davis's report 

Mark O'Dwyer voiced the words of James Fraser and Ferguson the pawnbroker

Further Reading: O'Riordain, E. The Famine in the Valley Available for free here

The Hellfire Club - Debauchery in the Dublin Mountains

Apr 23, 2019 33:55


The Hellfire club is an 18th century ruin in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains. The building has a scandalous history and is considered by some to be one of Ireland's most haunted locations. A few years ago Neil Jackman of Abarta Heritage led an archaeological excavation on the site. This podcast is an interview with Neil. He reveals the history behind this building, where the folklore and mythology originates and what he uncovered in the course of his excavations.

You can read the full report of Neil's excavation here


Nebraska - Irish Emigrants Surviving on the Frontier

Apr 3, 2019 22:35


When we think of Irish Emigrants in the USA, images of New York or Boston spring to mind. However on a recent trip to the US I visited friends in Nebraska where I found a very different Irish American history.

Located in the midwest - the landcape and climate in Nebraska are pretty extreme - its very different from the large cities on the Eastern Coast.

In this podcast I look at how Irish emigrants survived on the Great Plains in the 1870s and 1880s. Their accounts are fascinating - from sleeping in tents in brutal winters to an Irish American man who sold something called 'The Great Remedy' that could cure anything!

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The last of her kind | Peig Sayers II

Mar 15, 2019 31:19


In 1892 Peig Sayers married & moved from Dunquin in West Kerry to the Great Blasket Island. Her life provides us with fascinating insights into what marriage was like in the late 19th century (a combination of a first date and moving in with your in laws!).

Peig's later life also details how events like the 1916 Rising, the Great War and the War of Independence played out on this remote island. The podcast concludes with the story of how and why the Great Blasket was abandoned in the mid 20th century...

Thanks to Niamh Ní Riain of the NLI, Ciaraíoch & Sean Sheehy for their narrations.

This podcast is supported by the gateway to Ireland's great historical past. The archive contains dozens of Irish newspapers which cover nearly three centuries of Irish history.

Subscribe today at and use the coupon code history30 to get 30% off monthly and yearly packages.

The last of her kind | Peig Sayers I

Mar 4, 2019 33:27


When Peig Sayers died in 1958, she as regarded as one of Ireland's greatest storytellers and folklorists.

Born in Dunquin in 1873 Co Kerry she grew up in the aftermath of the Great Famine in extreme poverty. However life in this remote corner of Ireland is both fascinating and at times unbelievable from a 21st century standpoint.

Later in her life Peig would recall the intriguing details of what is now a lost world. Her life story is full of details which today leave us pondering how our ancestors survived.

She also recorded vivide accounts of major events in Irish history - The Land War, the Great War, the 1916 Rising and the sweeping change that transformed Ireland in the 20th century.

This, the first of two podcasts on Peig, looks at her life in Dunquin Co Kerry in the late 19th century a time when the Great Famine still haunted Irish Society. The second show will look at her life on the Great Blasket Island after she married.

Narrations - Niamh Ní Riain of the National Library of Ireland & Sean Sheehy

A Very Irish Murder (in Cincinnati)

Feb 11, 2019 41:27


In April 1894 Cincinnati's Irish Amercian community was rocked by a shocking and brutal murder. It was so scandalous that many newspapers in Ireland refused to even mention it, even though both the victim and the perpetrator were both Irish.

In this podcast you will hear the extraordinary story of Mollie Gilmartin unearthed for the first time in over a century...

Thanks to Muireann Hogan for her narration.

Book tickets for my upcoming New York Event at

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A 21st century Witch Hunt | Kilkenny Witch Trial of 1324 III

Jan 28, 2019 41:41


The city of Kilkenny was rocked by the notorious witchcraft trial of 1324 (covered in the last two episodes). These events took place seven centuries ago in the long distant past. To conclude the series on the trial embarked on my own witch hunt in the 21st century. I wanted to find if anything remained of the supposed witch Alice Kyteler who disappeared in 1324.

I took a recorder and soon found myself in buildings Alice herself used to frequent. Over the course of a few days I was able to unearth numerous places and artefacts associated with Alice Kyteler giving you a unique insight into her notorious trial and the events surrounding it.

Thanks to Grace Fegan, Elizabeth Keyes & Peter Kenny for their time and interviews.

There is still four three tickets available for the Witchcraft Tour which visits all the locations assocaited with the trial. Tickets and more details are available at

This podcast is brought to you by listeners to the show on

Plan 2019: New Series Announced & New York Event.

Jan 15, 2019 05:56


The series on the Great Hunger of the 1840s will finish in the summer of 2019, but I have been busy planning something new. Find out what it is in this major announcement. 

I am visiting New York for the first time and speaking at the American Irish Historical Society on February 28th. You can get tickets at

Support the show at

Kilkenny Witchcraft Trial of 1324 (Part II)

Dec 21, 2018 35:13


This podcast continues the fascinating tale of one of the first witchcraft trials in European history. It took place in Kilkenny in 1324.

The previous episode (available here History-1-2 – Kilkenny-witchcraft-trial-part-i) explained the background to the trial.

This show picks up the story as the trial and surrounding scandal began in March 1324. This would see the Bishop Ossory clash with Alice Kyteler and her powerful but dangerous allies. The consequences would be devastating for those caught in the middle.

To accompany these podcasts I am organising a once off day long tour on April 20th 2019 to Kilkenny to visit the spectalar remains of the medieval city. This will be an interactive experience enhanced by listening devices so you will hear the sounds of the 14th century while standing in the places where this trial took place.

Tickets which include private coach, entry into three paying sites, a walking tour of Kells priory and medieval Kilkenny cost €100. This also includes a meal.

Kilkenny Witchcraft Trial of 1324 (Part I)

Dec 20, 2018 32:48


Growing up in Kilkenny I was surrounded by medieval history - its what drew me to study the past in the first place.

One of the most famous or perhaps notorious incidents in Kilkenny's medieval history took place in 1324 when the Bishop of Ossory accused Alice Kyteler, a powerful merchant in the city, of heresy and witchraft. This sparked a lethal struggle in the town that would end in shocking brutality.

This is the first of two podcasts on the trial. This show sets the scene by painting a picture of life in Kilkenny in the 1320s and introducing the main characters the next episode will follow the trial itself.

To accompany these podcasts I am organising a once off day long tour on April 20th 2019 to Kilkenny to visit the spectalar remains of the medieval city. This will be an interactive experience enhanced by listening devices so you will hear the sounds of the 14th century while standing in the places where this trial took place.

Tickets which include private coach, entry into three paying sites, a walking tour of Kells priory and medieval Kilkenny cost €100. This also includes a meal.

The 1848 Famine Rebellion

Dec 13, 2018 01:00:56


1848 was a year of revolt & rebellion across Europe and Ireland was no different. However unique to Ireland, the 1848 uprising took place to the back drop of one of the worst famine’s in modern history – the Great Hunger.

While it has been overshadowed by the much larger 1798 rebellion and the 1916 Rising, the story of the Famine rebellion is a fascinating if forgotten history.

In this podcast we take a journey through radical politics in Ireland tracing the origins of the famine revolt in the extreme violence of the 1798 rebellion to the pacifism of Daniel O’Connell’s Repeal Movement.

Along the way you will encounter some of 19th century Ireland’s most controversial revolutionaries from John Mitchel to William Smith O’Brien in what is a fascinating story haunted by the spectre of the Great Famine.

This also gives us a chance to take a proper look at how Ireland’s political leaders reacted to the Great Famine which reveals a story of machiavellian deals and betrayal.

This is all told by focusing on the story of a very ordinary rebel, the Tipperary native Martin Ryan.

Heroes of the Great Hunger - Famine Aid in the 1840s.

Nov 14, 2018 43:39


The history of the Great Hunger is rooted in stories of greed, racism and senseless suffering. This episode however sheds light on some of the amazing stories of compassion and solidarity that saved thousands of lives.

While it can be difficult not to focus on the disastrous actions of the British Government, it is also important to remember the forgotten heroes of the Great Famine – the Victorian equivalent of aid workers.

This podcast brings you the story some of these unlikely heroes from a Polish Count Pawel Strelecki to the Evangelical Protestant from Vermont Asenath Nicholson. Their stories of sacrifice in the 1840s are remarkable. The podcast also looks at the stories of generosity among slaves, native americans and prisoners who donated money to the famine relief despite facing extreme hardships themsleves.

Thanks to Olga Jazienicka for the help with the polish pronouniations (which are still pretty terrible - apologies!)

This show is sponsored by

As a listener to the show you can get 30% off monthly or yearly subscriptions by using the Coupon Code Pod30 at 

BONUS: Ireland's most famous highwayman & Cromwell's siege of Wexford

Oct 15, 2018 21:45


This bonus episode contains the first two shows in my podcast series 'This Week in Irish history'. These shows look at the life of Ireland's most famous highwayman and Cromwell's Siege of Wexford in 1649. There is a third episode already available once you subscribe to THis Week in Irish History in iTunes

Our darkest hour? The forgotten famine of 1847-48

Oct 4, 2018 52:43


Many histories of the Great Hunger refer to the famine ending in 1847. It is true that the famine did start to ease in some parts of the island in the following years.

However in the west the catastrophe was far from over - some of the darkest chapters lay ahead as 1847 drew to a close.

This episode focuses in on one area – Clifden in Co Galway where the famine in 1848 was arguably even worse than it had been during Black ’47. This show also looks at who was responsible, how the British Government created the illusion (that persists to the present day) that the famine was nearing an end in 1847 and why they did this.

We also look at the brutal struggle for survival in Clifden. This saw people pushed to the extremes and break the greatest of human taboos – cannibalism.

Thanks to Aidan Crowe, Josh Clarke, Tara Lonij, Janet Johnson, Danny Burke, Caitlin White, Wayne O'Brien, Mark Laherty, Conor Lenehan, John Brennan, Sean Comiskey, Denis O'Donnell & Christopher Devine for their help in making the show.


How to get my new podcast series 'This Week in Irish History'.

Sep 17, 2018 02:29


On October 1st my new free weekly podcast series 'This Week in Irish History' begins.

This short episode tells you want you can expect, what's in the first four shows and the simple step you need to take to make sure you dont miss out on Ireland's newest podcast.



Black '47 The Movie Reviewed

Sep 5, 2018 21:37


This week see the release of the first major movie set during the Great Famine. Starring James Frecheville, Stephen Rae, Jim Broadbent & Hugo Weaving Black '47 is one of the most eagerly awaited Irish films of 2018.

Last Wednesday I got a sneak preview of the movie and in this podcast I review Black '47.

Last Wednesday I got a sneak preview of the movie and in this podcast I review Black '47.

What is the movie like?

Is it true to history?

Does it pass the Bechdal test?

It goes on general release in Ireland today (Wednesday 5th) and in the US & UK at the end of September. This is another review by John Dorney mentioned in the podcast…view-black-47/

This episode is brought to you by As a listener to the show you can get 30% off monthly or yearly subscriptions by using the Coupon Code Pod30 at

The Road to Black '47 - The Great Irish Famine Explained

Sep 5, 2018 41:47


This week sees the launch of the movie Black '47 & my return to the Great Famine series.

So whether you want to find out the history behind the movie or catch up on the series to date this is podcast for you. While it does summarise the series to date the show also includes lots of new information. 

The episode tells the fascinating but forgotten story of Margaret Murphy. Margaret's life is one of neglected stories of people who lived through the Great Hunger. 

She was born in Ireland in the final years of the 18th century and was an eyewitness to the rebellions, wars and recession that set the stage for the Great Famine in the late 1840s. 

Thanks to the following people for readings.

Clodagh Leonard

Nick MacCrimmons


Hugh Sheehy

Aidan Crowe

& Tara Lonij

This episode is brought to you by

As a listener to the show you can get 30% off monthly or yearly subscriptions by using the Coupon Code Pod30 at

The Mulranny Police Conspiracy

Aug 20, 2018 36:40


The 'Mulranny Police Conspiracy' is a little-known story that took place in the west of Ireland at the turn of the 20th century. The setting is Mulranny a stunning village along the Wild Atlantic Way but in 1900 it was something of a forgotten backwater.    However it was here, on the shores of Clew Bay that this story of deceit unfolded. In what is at times a bizarre and tragic plot, the Royal Irish Constabulary turned on this poor community in Co Mayo when they began to campaign for better rights. The following story is intriguing and fascinating...
  You can support the show on   Book your tickets on the interactive tour of Medieval Dublin mentioned in the show here


This episode is brought to you by

As a listener to the show you can get 30% off monthly or yearly subscriptions by using the Coupon Code Pod30 at 


The Iniskea Island Mysteries?

Jul 30, 2018 32:43


The Iniskea Islands are among the most remote places in Ireland. Although deserted today, throughout the 19th century the lives of the islanders were the source of bizarre rumours. Numerous outsiders accused the islanders of piracy & worshipping pagan gods into the 1870s.

In this podcast I look at whether these Islanders were truly the last pagans and pirates in Ireland. The answers are suprising to say the least.

The episode guide is available at


This episode is brought to you by

As a listener to the show you can get 30% off monthly or yearly subscriptions by using the Coupon Code Pod30 at 

The Massacre of Wildgoose Lodge

Jul 4, 2018 33:45


In the 1830s the British politican George Lewis described the fate of an informer in ireland as a man "doomed to certain death....he would be hunted through the country like a mad dog every hand would be raised against him". 

This was something of an understatement in some cases. 

In 1816 Edward Lynch became an informer. A few months later this resulted in one of the worst crimes in pre-famine Ireland - The Massacre of Wildgoose Lodge......

Tune in to hear the full story.


*I have been admitted to hospital since this was finished so the next show will be at least a week late.*



This episode is brought to you by

As a listener to the show you can get 30% off monthly or yearly subscriptions by using the Coupon Code Pod30 at

Murder at Mother Mountain

Jun 11, 2018 43:25


Mother Mountain is situated in a remote corner of Co Tipperary. An axe-murder that took place here in March 1846 shocked Irish society. Indeed had it not been obscured by the Great Famine Mother Mountain may well have been remembered alongside Maamtrasna as one of the notorious Irish murder cases of the 19th century.

Find out why....

Book your place on my Famine tour at

This episode is brought to you by

As a listener to the show you can get 30% off monthly or yearly subscriptions by using the Coupon Code Pod30 at

Did the Famine drive Irish people insane? The story of the Famine Irish in Britain.

May 28, 2018 28:53


Did the experiences of the Famine drive Irish people insane?

In this episode I look at the story of the famine survivor John Thompson who ended up in the Rainhill asylum in Lancashire in the 1860s. In this Victorian institution (which treated mental illnesses) he would find himself surrounded by other Irish people.

This podcast looks at why Irish peope found themsleves in British asylums in disproportionate numbers in the 1850s and 1860s. The answers reveal some harrowing details about the difficult lives the Famine Irish in Britain faced.

The US Civil War and the Great Famine

May 8, 2018 41:43


The Great Hunger is not something we associate with war and certainly not wars in other countries. However the Famine is inextricably linked to the story of the American Civil War (1861-1865). Around 200,000 Irish people, most of them famine or post famine emigrants, fought in the conflict making it one of the largest wars in terms of Irish participation. This podcast is structured aroud an interview with Damian Shiels of someone who has tirelessly researched the stories of these people over the last eight years. Damian’s interview provides fascinating insights into the forgotten lives of the Irish who fought in the US Civil War.   Join me on the Dublin Famine Tour - Book your place at

The Famine Irish in the USA - a promised land?

Apr 21, 2018 49:54


After Ireland, no country was more affected by the Great Famine than the USA. Millions of Irish people emigrated to the United States during and after the Great Famine. This is their story.

Through this podcast you will follow them on voyages across the Atlantic before looking at several Irish communities from the Five Points Slum in New York to the Rocky Mountains.

From persecuted Irish miners in the Pennsylvanian Coalfields to deeply racist Irish prospectors in the Californian Goldrush the Irish story in America is fascinating and complex...

I am very grateful to Martin Nutty, Ryan McCormick, Laura Pasek, Lisa O'Sullivan and Ronan McGreechin for their recordings. Monica Brennan very generously allowed me use her rendition of Thousands Are Sailing.

You can book tickets for my tour at

American Wakes, Coffin Ships and Canada

Mar 29, 2018 37:27


Coffin Ships are one of the most enduring images from the Great Famine. This was the name given to the boats that carried Irish Famine emigrants to North America in 1847.   This sinister title comes from the appalling death rates onboard these ships. This show opens with the hopes and fears of famine emigrants in Black '47. Then I move on to the harrowing voyages and what awaited the emirgants when they landed in Canada, This fell far short of their expectations - this journey will take us onto the dreaded quarantine station of Gross Isle in the St Laurence river. Tune in to find out more.

Thanks to Alexis Kelly for his narrating the words of Archbishop Signay. 


This podcast is sponsored by Ireland's largest stockist of rare books with titles from the 16th century to the present day. 

They have put together a fantastic offer for the listeners of the Irish history podcast. You can get 15% off some classics:

Maamtrasna: The murders and The mystery by Jarlath Waldron This was the key source for my podcast series on the Maamtrasna Murders and contains numerous comtemporary accounts from what is one of the most enduring mysteries in Irish history. 

The highly recommended "Transactions of the Central Relief Committee of the Society of Friends during the The Famine in Ireland" I have used this repeatedly throughout the series and is the source of quotes in this podcast. Its a hardback collection of accounts, reports and letters written by quakers who were helping famine victims.

The Great Irish Book of Genealogies. This is a beautiful translation of the five volume collection of medieval history, prose and poetry. The original was written in the mid 17th century making this translation a collectors item.

You can get these for a limited time only at 


St Patricks Day in Black '47

Mar 17, 2018 22:03


As people across the world prepare to mark St Patrick's day this podcast looks what at happened on St Patricks Day during the worst year of the Great Famine. Celebrations were not cancelled but on a day supposed to celebrat all things Irish, events in Dublin revealed there were two very different Irelands in that year. 

While one half of the city starved the other half planned a party....

My Dublin Famine Tour launches this Sunday. Book you place now at 


As people across the world mark St Patrick's day this podcast looks what at happened in Dublin on St Patricks Day during the worst year of the Great Famine. Celebrations were not cancelled but on a day supposed to celebrate all things Irish, events in Dublin revealed there were two very different Irelands in that year. 

While one half of the city starved the other half planned a party....

My Dublin Famine Tour launches this Sunday. Book you place now at 

Dublin Famine Tour - A New Interactive Experience

Mar 6, 2018 02:30


This short podcast explains the Dublin Famine Tour, my new interactive historical experience which launches on St Patricks Weekend.

On this walking tour I guide you through Victorian Dublin, explaining the fascinating but forgotten story of how the Great Famine transformed Ireland’s capital city.

During the tour will also hear what Dublin sounded like in the 1840s along with recordings of accounts written by Dubliners at the time. Tune in for more exciting details.

Book your place today at

Exiles - Irish Famine Emigrants (the Great Famine XIX)

Mar 2, 2018 33:35


Emigration is arguably the greatest legacy of the Great Irish Famine. Between 1846 and 1851, 1.25 million Irish people passed through the port of Liverpool alone to escape the Great Hunger. This exodus of refugees transformed the Great Famine from an Irish catastrophe into a global phenomenon as these people established Irish communities across the world. It fitting then that the show opens with a story from the Canadian city of Montreal in the 1870s.   The we will hone in on the port of Liverpool which provides us an overall picture of what was happening.    Then to conclude I look at profiles of Irish famine emigrants. Who were these people? How did they manage to escape Ireland?  I also debunk some common myths along the way.   I have just launched my new Dublin based walking tour on the Great Famine - You can find out more and book your place at  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This podcast is sponsored by Ireland's largest stockist of rare books with titles from the 16th century to the present day.  They have put together a fantastic offer for the listeners of the Irish history podcast. You can get 15% off some classics: Maamtrasna: The murders and The mystery by Jarlath Waldron This was the key source for my podcast series on the Maamtrasna Murders and contains numerous comtemporary accounts from what is one of the most enduring mysteries in Irish history.  The highly recommended "Transactions of the Central Relief Committee of the Society of Friends during the The Famine in Ireland" I have used this repeatedly throughout the series and is the source of quotes in this podcast. Its a hardback collection of accounts, reports and letters written by quakers who were helping famine victims. The Great Irish Book of Genealogies. This is a beautiful translation of the five volume collection of medieval history, prose and poetry. The original was written in the mid 17th century making this translation a collectors item. You can get these for a limited time only at   

An Eye for an Eye: Evictions & Assassinations (The Great Famine XVIII)

Feb 7, 2018 58:00


Over the course of the Great Famine, hundreds of thousands of Irish people were evicted from their homes.

As ruthless landlords showed no pity, eviction was a death sentence for many starving tenants who were made homeless.

It was inevitable these evictions provoked resistance. On November 2nd 1847, the most famous assassination of the Great Famine took place in North Roscommon.

This podcast details the background of this assassination and how it relates to the wider story of other mass evictions in Ireland in the late 1840s.

The episode also tries to assess who exactly was to blame for the evictions - Irish landlords facing bankruptcy or the British Government in London?

A fully referenced episode guide is available at


This podcast is sponsored by Ireland's largest stockist of rare books with titles from the 16th century to the present day.

They have put together a fantastic offer for the listeners of the Irish history podcast. You can get 15% off some classics:

Maamtrasna: The murders and The mystery by Jarlath Waldron This was the key source for my podcast series on the Maamtrasna Murders and contains numerous comtemporary accounts from what is one of the most enduring mysteries in Irish history. 

The highly recommended "Transactions of the Central Relief Committee of the Society of Friends during the The Famine in Ireland" I have used this repeatedly throughout the series and is the source of quotes in this podcast. Its a hardback collection of accounts, reports and letters written by quakers who were helping famine victims.

The Great Irish Book of Genealogies. This is a beautiful translation of the five volume collection of medieval history, prose and poetry. The original was written in the mid 17th century making this translation a collectors item.

You can get these for a limited time only at 

The Great Famine 1845 - 47 (Part XVII)

Jan 22, 2018 31:12


This episode marks a return to the Great Famine Series. Coming podcasts will detail the later phase of the Famine including emigration and the bitter struggle that broke out between lanldords & tenants.   This show sets the stage by focusing on the life of the most famous Irish person of the 19th century - Daniel O’Connell.  Known as 'King Dan' the final years of his life provide a great opportunity to recap on what has happened so far and tie up loose ends before we continue our story. 

Spies & Jail Breaks: Female Rebels in Medieval Ireland

Jan 8, 2018 21:56


Isabella Cadel, Grace O Toole, Fynyna O Toohig. These are all women forgotten by history who lived intriguing and fascinating lives. The three had one thing in common - they were all rebels in medieval Ireland.

In this podcast I look at their forgotten stories which took place in an Ireland ravaged by deadly conflict. These medieval female warriors played an overlooked role in the brutal and deadly war that broke out between Norman settlers and Gaelic Rebels in the late Middle Ages.

The next installment of the Great Famine Series is currently in production and will be available in two weeks. It will be released early on

Ireland's Nazi Commando II (Otto Skorzeny)

Dec 24, 2017 30:47


The last podcast looked at the arrival of the one time Nazi Commando Otto Skorzeny in Ireland in 1957 and the welcome he received from some of the most influential people in Dublin.  This podcast continues this bizarre story using recently released files from Ireland's intelligence agency G2. These files contain serious allegations about Skorzeny in Ireland.  Was he using Cork Harbour to smuggle arms to North Africa? Was he guilty of testing a gas gun on concentration camp inmates? Why did he reportedly meet with IRA leader Ruairi O'Bradaigh in Spain in 1971 with a view to import weapons to Ireland? Did Ireland's future prime minister Charles Haughey turn a blind eye to some of these activities? Find out more in this podcast. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Outsiders is a short mini series I am making over Christmas - I will be returning to the story of the Great Famine in mid January 2018.  This podcast is brought to you by the gateway to Ireland's great historical past.  With over 70 titles some of which stretch back to the 18th century a subscription will make the ideal Christmas gift for the history buff in your family.    You can get 30% of monthly and yearly packages today at and use the coupon code Pod30.

Ireland's Nazi Commando: Otto Skorzeny (Outsiders III Part 1)

Dec 18, 2017 38:57


This is the first of two podcasts which looks at the story of Otto Skorzeny, a notorious Nazi with a long but forgotten connection to Ireland.

It is set in the aftermath of World War II to the intriguing backdrop of the hunt for Nazi war criminals after the war. Once labelled the most dangerous man in Europe the focus of the podcast, Otto Skorzeny, was a man plagued with rumours of war crimes, gun running and Neo-Nazi activities all his life.

His arrival in Ireland in 1957 started a dark chapter in our history one steeped in controversy mystery and unsettling revelations about some of Irelands most prominent figures.

Outsiders is a short mini series I am making over Christmas - I will be returning to the story of the Great Famine in mid January 2018.


This podcast is brought to you by the gateway to Ireland's great historical past. With over 70 titles some of which stretch back to the 18th century a subscription will make the ideal Christmas gift for the history buff in your family. You can get 30% of monthly and yearly packages today at and use the coupon code Pod30.

The first Irishman in China (Outsiders Part II)

Dec 12, 2017 26:02


Believe it or not the first Irish person to visit China left Europe in 1318 arriving. His fascinating journey would take several years. Known only as 'James of Ireland' this a story embroiled in the rise of the Mongols, medieval papal diplomacy and the tediously slow world of medieval travel. 

Hear his story in this podcast...

Outsiders is a short mini series I am making over Christmas - I will be returning to the story of the Great Famine in mid January 2018. 

This podcast is brought to you by the gateway to Ireland's great historical past. 

With over 70 titles some of which stretch back to the 18th century a subscription will make the ideal Christmas gift for the history buff in your family.   

You can get 30% of monthly and yearly packages today at and use the coupon code Pod30.

Ireland's Last Executioners (Outsiders Part I)

Dec 4, 2017 30:13


Over the coming weeks I am taking a break from the Great Famine Series to make a mini series entitled 'Outsiders'. These podcasts will focus on people who for one reason or another lived at the peripherary of Irish society.    First up is Ireland's last executioners. These were members of a family who included one of the most prolific hangmen of all time. This is the story of the Pierrepoints who between them probably executed over 1,000 people in the mid 20th century.    Find out their story in this show.   This podcast is brought to you by, the gateway to Ireland's great historical past. Withover 70 titles some of which stretch back to the 18th century a subscription will make the ideal Christmas gift for the history buff in your family. You can get 30% of monthly and yearly packages today by going to and use the coupon code Pod30 

The Workhouse and the Unwanted (The Great Famine XVI)

Nov 15, 2017 46:03


The crumbling ruins of workhouses are one of the last visible reminders of the horrors of the Great Hunger in the Irish landscape. During the Great Famine they became home to the unwanted in Irish society. Ultimately over 300,000 people Irish people died in these institutions during the Great Hunger. 

While they may have been unwanted by the late 1840s very few of the so called 'inmates' of workhouses were born unwanted. The show begins by looking at how people found themsleves in such a position by following the journey of one 14 year old boy, Patrick Duignan from Co Leitrim. 

This is his story. 

I also look at an often forgotten aspect of workhouses: the bitter and sometimes violent struggles for control of the running of these institutions which explains why so many died. 

This episode is brought to you by 

As a listener to the show you can get 40% off monthly or yearly subscriptions by using the Coupon Code Pod40 at 

A Doomed Land? Piracy, Elections and the 1847 Harvest (The Great Famine Part XV)

Oct 23, 2017 37:22


This show opens with the fascinating story of communities in Mayo who resorted to piracy to survive in 1847. This is only a prelude however before we look at two pivotal events later in the year. 

After two years of starvation, the only election held during the Great Famine took place in August 1847. In some constituencies this poll was more like a blood sport than modern elections. 

That summer was also decisive because no sooner were the ballots counted than the island became fixated on an even more important test – the harvest. If this failed the future was bleak but many had reason to be hopeful...

This episode is brought to you by 

As a listener to the show you can get 40% off monthly or yearly subscriptions by using the Coupon Code Pod40 at 

At a Crossroads - Salvation or Starvation (1847) The Great Famine Part XIV

Sep 25, 2017 33:34


This podcast continues our journey through the summer of 1847 as we reach one of the pivotal moments in the history of the Great Famine. The British government finally realise a new policy is needed in Ireland but will it help or hinder?

Decisions taken in this podcast overshadow life Ireland for years to come. 

Tune in to find out more. 

This episode is brought to you by 

As a listener to the show you can get 40% off monthly or yearly subscriptions by using the Coupon Code Pod40 at 

A Tale of Transportation: The Great Famine Part XIII

Sep 11, 2017 31:23


Transportation was a particularity cruel punishment. For centuries those condemned to this fate were shipped to penal colonies on the far side of the globe to serve out their sentences. It has become synonymous with injustice during the famine when many caught stealing food suffered this fate.     For this podcast I dug deep into the archives and found the story of the Nangle family whose lives were ripped apart after they were caught stealing sheep.  Their story also gives us an insight into life in Dublin prisons during the famine. The second part of the show is somewhat different focusing on the bizarre and perverse chapters in the entire famine - the arrival of the french celebrity chef Alexis Soyer to Dublin in 1847 to help famine victims.   This episode is brought to you by - the world’s largest and oldest online database of Irish newspapers. Containing nearly 300 years of Irish newspapers, Irish Newspaper is an  essential tool for anyone interested Irish history or genealogy.   Listeners of the Irish history podcast can get 40% off monthly and yearly subscriptions by using the coupon code Pod40 at  

The Great Hunger in Dublin (The Great Famine XII)

Aug 14, 2017 32:04


Dublin is often forgotten in the story of the Great Famine. While death rates in the capital were not as severe as the west of Ireland, the city suffered nevertheless. The show follows the story of the Mulherins, a family who fled famine in their home in Co Leitrim and settled in the Smithfield - Stoneybatter area of Dublin. They quickly found life in the capital city was very different but not necessarily easier...

The show also looks at life in one of the city workhouses and how prostitution increased dramatically during the late 1840s.

****Become a patron of the show today and get the 78 minute audiobook of An Emigrants Narrative. This is the first time this fascinating personal account written by William Smith in 1850 has been released on audio. Smith crossed the Atlantic with Irish emigrants in the winter of 1847 and his account is an amazing insight into what our ancestors endured.

You can get this today at

Voices from Black '47 - Irish emigrants in their own words (The Great Famine XI)

Jul 24, 2017 30:22


From January 1847 Irish people desperately trying to flee the famine began to leave the island in huge numbers. 

220,000 left in that year alone and by 1853 more than one in six people who had lived in Ireland in 1845 had emigrated. While we know a lot about where they went and the horrendous conditions they faced, we know less about the lives they left behind. This show tells that story through the words of these Irish emigrants.

Research for this show took me into the archives of the National Library of Ireland. After sifting through what hundreds of letters from Famine emigrants this podcast publishes several for the first time since the 1840s. These never before heard accounts give a unique insight into the lives of Irish people in 1847 as they prepared to leave Ireland forever. Their stories are far more complex and all too often more tragic than we imagine. 

This is only possible through the support of patrons - previously I would not have been able to devote the necessary time to one episode. If you want to become a patron today and get bonus content check out

Thanks to Clare Ryan, Jamie Goldrick, Thom McDermott and Dave Lordan who narrate the letters.  


Black '47 - A World Turned Upside Down (1847) The Great Famine Part X

Jul 10, 2017 42:26


This series continues the story of the Great Famine into the notorious year of Black '47 by returning to the town of Skibbereen. Looking at how life in the town changed it details the horrifying lives many had to endure. However starvation was not the only way the famine changed Ireland and the show begins by looking at the unusual story of James Dillon, a coroner in Co Offaly who was tasked with investigating two suspicious deaths in December 1846. 

You can get bonus content by supporting the show at

Insurrection and Starvation - A Tale of Two Towns (1846) The Great Famine Part IX

Jun 19, 2017 48:47


As the situation deteriorated in Ireland in late 1846, the two Cork towns of Youghal and Skibbereen experienced the unfolding horrors in very different ways. The people of Youghal, due to local dynamics, were in a position to rise up against some of the causes of famine. Through the Autumn of 1846 they launched an insurrection in a desperate bid to stop food being exported. However at Skibbereen in west Cork the people found themselves in a far worse situation. Ravaged by severe starvation from as early as October, the town became notorious for the horrific conditions its inhabitants faced.

You can support the show and get lots of bonus content on patreon at

History vs Reality. What was life really like in 1840s Ireland?

Jun 5, 2017 23:18


Many travellers who visited the west of Ireland in the 19th century considered it as a frontier of sorts. They were more often than not deeply racist, yet we still rely heavily on their accounts to reconstruct a picture of life at the time. In this show I question  how reliable their accounts are. In an effort to create a more vivid picture of life in the 1840s I have interviewed with two archaeologists - Franc Myles and Eve Campbell for this show. 

You can support the show at

You can contact me at

An abandoned village and Ireland's newest beach: Achill Island Day 1

May 26, 2017 10:55


Join Fin as he treks around Achill island visiting Ireland's newest beach and the ruins of a famine era village.

To get exclusive content from Achill check out

In the Valley of the Shadow of Death (1846) The Great Famine Part VIII

May 23, 2017 34:59


Through the summer of 1846 Ireland had endured terrible hunger and suffering. However against the odds the numbers who had starved to death were few. As many waited in great anticipation for the coming harvest, disaster struck when the potato blight returned on a much wider scale than in 1845. As the Irish MP Daniel O'Connell stated a 'death dealing famine' was on the cards. This show begins with a story of emigration and passengers on an early coffin ship. 

In the coming days I am heading to Achill Island of the west coast, where I will be making a series of podcasts and videos about life there during the Famine. You can find out more at

All aboard - Virtual Road Trip to the 1840s

May 20, 2017 03:10


Next week you can join me on a virtual road trip to the 1840s! Tune in to find out more...

The 1846 Summer of Starvation (The Great Famine Part VII)

May 2, 2017 31:14


The summer of 1846 was a tense time in Ireland. As food grew scarce lawlessness, riots and violence became frequent. Everyone eagerly awaited May 15th when the British Government would open it's emergency food depots. Perhaps then the tensions and anxiety at the heart of Irish society would ease? However would the food in these emergency depots be enough to stave off famine until the harvest was ready in Autumn? 

Find out in this episode. 

(Apologies that this show is late. Research took much longer than usual and then the writing proved tricky in places and I had to rewrite several parts. Thanks for your patience).

You can support the show on patreon at

Book tickets on the tour at or

Free Trade or Famine 1845-46 (the Great Famine Part VI)

Apr 10, 2017 33:01


This show takes you through the winter of 1845 through to April 1846 as the situation in Ireland deteriorates. Food riots and protests become common, while the Famine crisis facing Ireland is consumed in bitter political disputes around 'Free Trade' in London. 

While the show follows the fate of millions through increasingly uncertain times it begins (as is often the case now) in a quite secluded spot in the west of Ireland – in Co Leitrim. 

You can support the show at

The Great Hunger Begins (The Great Famine Part V)

Mar 20, 2017 34:08


As the harvest of 1845 approached in Ireland, rumours circulated that a mysterious disease was attacking the potato crop. While well informed botanists in London grew increasingly anxious about what lay ahead, many Irish peasants dependent on potatoes had little idea what was happening. When the harvest did fail, the Great Famine had begun. Terror gripped the population and I look at what the British authorities did to respond.

On the verge of disaster: Ireland 1845 (The Great Famine IV)

Mar 8, 2017 31:45


1845 is famous for one thing in Irish history – the beginning of the Great Famine. However contrary to what you might expect, if you lived in Ireland through most of 1845 there was little evidence to suggest Irish society stood on the brink of one of the greatest famines in history. This episode looks at the highs and lows of life in Ireland as the Famine approached.

To this end we follow the life of William A'Court, better known as Baron Heytesbury - the Lord Leuitenant of Ireland appointed in 1844. The show looks at the problems facing Irish society - sectarianism, the political controversy around the Movement for the Repeal of the Act of Union and the Poor Law. It also looks at why there was every reason to be hopeful about the future with the approach of that fateful harvest in 1845.

You can support this series at


Lola Montez - 19th Century Ireland's most notorious lady.

Feb 20, 2017 26:46


Lola Montez, born Elizabeth Rosanna Gilbert, was one of the most scandalous women of the 19th century. She took Europe by storm with 'dances' that left little to the imagination - she was known to wear nothing beneath her tutu.

Married three times she also had a string of famous lovers including a king, the composer Franz Liszt and the author Alexander Dumas. Were she alive today her friends would include the most powerful people alive, she would be plagued by the paparazzi, have millions of twitter followers and if she had a website it would be most definitely x rated.

Need is say I more?

You can support the show at

People & Potatoes: Was Ireland overpopulated in 1845? (The Great Famine Part III)

Jan 31, 2017 25:12


In 1845 the population of Ireland was heading towards 9 million with many people surviving on a diet of potatoes. This has lead many to claim that the island was overpopulated. In this podcast I head to a remote village of Inver in Erris to see how the population has changed over the past 150 years. I also investigate exactly how many people lived in Ireland, what was the standard of living and whether the people were healthy. The answers are surprising to say the least. 

You can support the Great Famine Series and get lots of bonus content by becoming a patron today at


Rents, Riots and Volcanoes (Ireland 1800-1845) The Great Famine II

Jan 25, 2017 33:27


The series on the Great Famine got off to a bloody start with the story of Anne Devlin and the rebellions of 1798 and 1803. By the end of the first episode, Ireland had been incorporated into the United Kingdom under the Act of Union. 

In this show we will see what life in Ireland was like after the Act of Union. Within a few decades inequality was soaring. Strikes, riots and assassination were becoming increasingly common. Then the bizarre story of an eruption of Mount Tambura, a volcano on the far side of the world made everything worse. Tune in to find out more. 

 You can get a listeners guide to this episode which includes a transcript of the show at

The Great Famine Part I Rebel Isle (1750-1803)

Jan 19, 2017 44:29


This podcast, the first in my new series on the Great Famine, gives a background to Ireland in the 19th century. Entitled 'Rebel Island' it focuses on the life of one extraordinary Irish rebel -  Anne Devlin. She lived a remarkable life and was involved in the 1798 and 1803 rebellions. These reshaped Ireland and had profound consequences impacting life right up to and during the Great Famine.

Anne Devlin's life also explains why sectarian tensions between Catholics and Protestants dominated life in Ireland, what the Act of Union was and why it was so important.

An episode guide including a fully referenced transcript of the show is available for patrons at Become a patron today and get lots of exclusive content.

The Great Irish Famine Series - An Introduction

Jan 11, 2017 05:37


Over the past few months I have been preparing a major podcast series on the Great Famine of the 1840s and its finally here! This short episode is an introduction to the series, what you can expect from it and why I am making it. Basically its like an introduction to a book.

If this isn't your thing and you want to crack on with the series the first episode - Rebel Island is available for patrons now at Otherwise you will have to wait a week when it will be available through my website (, iTunes, Googleplay and other platforms.

Hitchhiker's Guide to 1820s Ireland

Dec 22, 2016 17:56


In the opening line of his novel The Go Between the writer L.P. Hartley famously quipped ‘The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there’. For me history is about attempting to visit this foreign country L.P. Hartley talked about and seeing what life was like.
In this podcast I have  trawled through eye witness accounts of travelers to early 19th century Ireland to give you a sense of what life was like in a past where they did things very differently.
From bare-knuckle boxing to prostitution, from public transport to what people did for fun, this show takes you on the trip to the foreign country that was Ireland in the 1820s. 

This is the last show of 2016, thanks to everyone who has supported the show through the year and I hope you & yours have a great christmas and an even better new year!

Nollaig Shona


PS Don't forget in January I will be launching my new series on the Great Famine. You can help with the series and get lots of extra content by becoming a patron of the podcast today at

Letters from Dakota

Dec 13, 2016 27:10


'Letters from Dakota' is the story of my grandaunt Mollie Dwyer who emigrated to the USA when she was 15 years of age in 1906. Her emigrant experience was very different to most. Within two months she found herself in a convent in South Dakota training to be a nun. She would never return to the town she grew up in, save for the very occasional visit. 

However for over 40 years she wrote to her brother Jack Dwyer (my grandfather) in Castlecomer revealing intriguing insights into her unusual life as a nun in rural Dakota. I recently discovered her letters where she writes about prohibition in the 1920s, World War II but also her lonely life in the Midwest of the USA as well as her struggles with depression.  

These are her Letters from Dakota. 

My sister Ruth narrates her letters in this episode.

Become a patron of the show today and for a small monthly subscription you can get lots of bonus content. Find out more at

The Land War (1879-1882)

Dec 8, 2016 10:44


I launched my first exclusive patron’s podcast on the Land War yesterday.The Land War is a fascinating struggle between Irish landlords and tenants between 1879 and 1882.

This podcast contains some of that show (for free) and if you enjoy what you hear, the details of how to get the full episode at available only to patrons.

I also introduce the mysterious other person involved in making the Irish History Podcast - It might be you with you even knowing it. Tune in to find out more.


The Phoenix Park Murders II - The Manhunt

Dec 1, 2016 29:23


The Phoenix Park Murders are one of the most famous assassinations in Irish History. On May 6th 1882 Lord Frederick Cavendish and Thomas Henry Burke were killed in brutal circumstances in the Phoenix Park. The full story is covered in Part I.

This episode follows the manhunt for the assassins. While the police quickly identified the likely suspects, they had almost no evidence to make arrests.

This lead to a fascinating and relentless pursuit for evidence through victorian Dublin, while the assassins prepared to carry out more attacks.

The show concludes with  the trials and one of the most notorious informers in Irish history.

So far 65 listeners like you have supported my crowd funding campaign to make a podcast series on the Great Famine in 2017. You help me make that series by becoming a patron of the series today at As a patron you will receive bonus and exclusive content including episode guides, exclusive patron's podcasts and access to patrons discussions.

The 1882 Phoenix Park Murders Part I - A Fatal Day in Dublin.

Nov 24, 2016 21:56


The Phoenix Park Murders are among the most famous political assassinations in Irish History. On May 6th 1882, Lord Frederick Cavendish the new chief secretary for Ireland was assassinated in the Phoenix Park in brutal circumstances. Taking place at the height of the Land War, the fascinating story of the murders is set to the backdrop of riots, protests and other assassinations. In part I, I look at this context by following Frederick Cavendish on his last day alive before finishing up with the assassination itself. 

You can become a patron of the podcast at Patrons receive bonus shows, episode guides and much more. Find out more at

Tales from the Great Famine in Dublin.

Nov 17, 2016 27:09


In this episode I took my recorder and headed around my neighbourhood looking for the history of the Great Famine. Unsurprisingly I didn't have to travel far. With the Women's prison, the North Dublin Workhouse and the residence of the Lord  Lieutenant all within a kilometre, this show is full of fascinating accounts recorded at the sites they took place. From the mansions of the powerful to the prison cells of the powerless, this is a fascinating account of life in Dublin in the late 1840s. Among the lives recalled is that of 13 year old Mary Keane was imprisoned for not having a train ticket! However others faced worse punishment...

I am planning a major podcast series on the Great Famine in 2017. To deliver this I need your support. I have launched a campaign at This allows you to become a patron of the series and support my research with small monthly donations. In return for your support you will get lots of bonus content including an exclusive monthly patrons podcast, a patrons guide to each episode and much more. Check it out at



The Maamtrasna Murders Part III - The Guilty and the Innocent

Nov 15, 2016 33:45


In this final episode on the Maamtrasna murders, we begin by picking up the story of this fascinating murder case in December 1882. Eight men have been sentenced to die in Galway Jail on December the 15th for their role in the brutal killings of the Joyce family.

While five get their sentences commuted to the life imprisonment three are set to die. However at the last minute new evidence emerges. This is sent to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland of Ireland John Poyntz Spencer. However he doesn't have much time to decide what to do - the hangman William Marwood was already on his way to Galway prison. Find out what happens in the show.

In this episode I also launch a new patreon campaign where you can support the podcast as I build towards my upcoming major series on the Great Famine. You can find out more at where i also have a new video. Filmed in an abandoned famine village in the Cooley Mountains, it explains what you can expect from the podcast in 2017. For more check out 

The Maamtrasna Murders Part II - The Trials

Nov 9, 2016 37:38


In Part I of this series on the Maamtrasna murders I looked at one of the most brutal killings in 19th century Ireland when the Joyce family were attacked in their remote home in Maamtrasna on the Mayo-Galway border.

This podcast follows looks at the trials. While the police made a major break through within days of the murder a botched attempt at swift justice would see the story of the trials become nearly as famous the murders themselves.


The Maamtrasna Murders Part I - The Killings.

Nov 1, 2016 29:29


Prior to 1882, Maamtrasna a remote townland in the west of Ireland, was known to few outside Co. Galway. That all changed on the night of August 17th 1882 when one of the most brutal murders in 19th century Ireland took place there.

Five members of the Joyce family were killed in a horrific and disturbing attack. In a deeply unnerving aspect of a case still shrouded in mystery, the perpetrators were almost certainly known to the victims.

This first podcast looks at what exactly happened in Maamtrasna on that fateful summers night in 1882 before looking at some possible motives. Following shows will look at the trials and scandal that followed brutal murders.

Follow the show at


The tale of Jack of Ireland, a medieval outlaw.

Oct 24, 2016 25:07


Medieval outlaws have captured the human imagination for centuries. The story of Robin Hood who famously robbed from the rich to give to the poor has proved the most enduring. However most were ruthless individuals, many were willing to rob from the rich but few ever gave their bounty to the poor.

This podcast is about a Irish man who was an outlaw in all but name. While Jack would avoid being declared an outlaw his life gives a much better sense of what a medieval outlaw was like rather than the oft recounted tales of Robin Hood. His story is a the real life tale of an Irish man who ran amok across the North of England living well beyond the bounds of what was legal but was protected by friends in very high places!

You can get my copies of my book "1348: A Medieval Apocalypse - The Black Death in Ireland" at

I will be speaking about The Black Death in Dublin at the Street Stories History Festival in the Cobblestone Pub, Smithfield, Dublin 7 at 12 noon, Saturday October 29th

Haunted by our history: Ireland and Child Sexual Abuse

Oct 17, 2016 16:34


 This podcast was funded by the Mary Raftery Journalism Fund.

We don’t remember 1980s fondly in Ireland. Emigration and recession were features of life. The political atmosphere was defined by divisive and bitter debates around abortion in 1983 and divorce in 1986.

There was also a third deeply discomforting debate that rocked Irish society. Almost completely forgotten, this debate around child sexual abuse lifted the lid on a topic previously shrouded by shame, taboo and a code of silence. Contrary to what we might expect this did not involve priests, institutions or the Catholic Church. This debate has had an enduring legacy - shaping stereotypes and misinforming how we understand child sexual abuse in the 21 Century.

This podcast deals with Child Sexual Abuse. It is not suitable children. If you find this is a topic distressing you may not want skip this show.

If you are affected by issues in this podcast these organisations may be of help.



The podcast is part of a wider investigation funded by the Mary Raftery Journalism Fund where myself and Peter McGuire looked into child sexual abuse in the recent past and the present. You can find more material here.

The Manchester Martyrs

Oct 11, 2016 26:39


In November 1867 tension and fear gripped the city of Manchester. A regiment of the British Army was drafted in to support a police force already bolstered by an extra 2,000 recruits.

With the most contentious execution in a century due to take place at the New Bailey Prison, it was feared racial tensions in Manchester would erupt into violence.

The three condemned men Michael O'Brien, Michael Larkin and William Allen were all Irish. It was widely believed that the British courts had treated them harshly. As the execution day approached rumours spread that an escape orchestrated by the Fenians was on the cards. The city was on a knife edge...

This podcast tells the fascinating story of these three men remembered as the Manchester Martyrs.

You can see pictures of the individuals involved at

Fatal Feuds V - Medieval Downfall

Oct 5, 2016 29:44


The Fatal Feuds series has tracked the dramatic rise of the de Burgh Lords of the West and Earls of Ulster - the most powerful family in Medieval Irish history.

In 1326 the family Patriarch, the Red Earl, died leaving the family facing an uncertain future. The heir, known as the Brown Earl, was only 15 years of age. He now had to unify his vassals and powerful relations many of whom had ambitions of their own in an Ireland beset by war and hardships. As the title suggests things dont go according to plan in what is a dramatic conclusion to the series.

You can find a de Burgh family tree and biographies of the major figures at

Bonus: An Irish Childhood in a Stately Mansion

Sep 19, 2016 13:35


TV series like Downton Abbey offer a sensationalised view of life in Stately Homes but what was it really like? This podcast uses the never before published words of Florence Doreen Wandesforde who wrote a short account of her childhood in Castlecomer House before she died in 1999 at the age 95.

This is a fascinating insight to the world of upstairs-downstairs. Doreen and her family had their own butler, cook, servants and even gym instructor. Their house had a heated swimming pool in the early 20th century! She even met King George V and Queen Mary. However she also gives an insight into the simplicity of children's games and the tragedies inflicted on her family during World War I.


Fatal Feuds IV - The Fall of the Red Earl

Sep 9, 2016 30:21


The show picks up the story of the de Burgh family in August 1316 as the biggest battle in medieval Irish history approaches. The De Burghs have paid an huge ransom to free their best battle commander William 'Liath' de Burgh. He will lead the Norman forces against the might of the O'Connors and their king Felim. This battle fought beneath the walls of Athenry will decide the fate of a generation.

This episode also continues the story of the Bruce Invasion and Dublin's earliest popular revolt.

You can find the show on social media @

Bonus: Stealing the Stone of Destiny

Aug 30, 2016 13:37


In 1296 King Edward I of England invaded Scotland. During this campaign he removed the Stone of Destiny (a.k.a. The Stone of Scone) bringing it back to England. The removal of the stone which had been used to inaugurate medieval Scottish Kings, symbolised Scotland's domination by her southern neighbour. That was until Christmas 1950 when three students and a teacher attempted to take the stone back north of the border. Hear the full story of a heist that dominated the headlines around the world.

Buy the audiobook of 1348: A Medieval Apocalyspe - The Black Death in Ireland using the couponcode 'listener' before August 31st and you will receive 20% off.

The book is available now at


Fatal Feuds III - The Bruce Invasion

Aug 22, 2016 35:53


The third part of the mini-series Fatal Feuds focuses on the Bruce Invasion of Ireland in 1315. This sees the famous Scottish King Robert the Bruce wage war on his father-in-law the Red Earl of Ulster Richard de Burgh. This podcast on the greatest war in Medieval Irish history is packed full of fascinating characters and stories not to mention the longest siege in Irish history.

Dont forget to buy your audio book of 1348: A Medieval Apocalyspe at before August 31st using the couponcode listener to get your discount of 20%.

Bonus - Medieval Ireland's Red Wedding

Aug 15, 2016 12:17


The Red Wedding is an infamous chapter in the Game of Thrones series. It saw one family wipe out their rivals in a treacherous and brutal massacre. In this podcast I look at a comparable event from Ireland in the 14th century.

In 1305 the Lord of Tethmoy Peter de Bermingham invited several leading members of the O'Connor-Faly family to Carrick castle for a feast. The guests included his godchild. What followed was one of the most notorious incidents in what was already a brutal age. Listen to the show for the full story.

You can get in touch at

My latest book '1348: A Medieval Apocalypse - The Black Death in Ireland' is available at If you buy the audio book before August 31st you get 20% off by using the couponcode 'listener'.


Fatal Feuds II - The Making of a Medieval Superpower

Aug 9, 2016 41:44


This show picks up the story of Richard de Burgh, the Red Earl of Ulster at Christmas 1294. At the end of Fatal Feuds Part I he had been kidnapped & imprisoned in Lea castle by his rival John Fitzthomas. This  plunged Ireland into chaos.

In this show with the the Earl in captivity Fitzthomas goes on the offensive attacking his rivals in Connacht. Mayhem sweeps across Ireland in an event known as The Time of Disturbance. This show covers the following 20 years of frantic warfare in Ireland.

And if Ireland's nobles weren't creating enough trouble, by the end of the episode Robert the Bruce Scotland’s most famous King will enters the fray.

30 seconds to improve this podcast.

Jul 30, 2016 01:18


Hi folks in episode 84 I mentioned I am looking for a sponsor for the show. Things have moved along. I now have an agency and the final hurdle is getting you guys to fill out a 30 second survey at It asks six really quick multiple  choice questions. Less than a minute of your time now you will mean hours of podcasts  in the coming months and years.



Fatal Feuds Part I – The rise of the Red Earl (1281 – 1295)

Jul 27, 2016 31:24


This episode is the first of four that looks at a series of related feuds that ripped Ireland apart in the late Middle Ages. 'Fatal Feuds' begins in the late 13th century when the de Burgh and FitzGerald families fought out a private war of epic proportions. This episode begins by introducing the most important character in the series  - Richard Og de Burgh, The Red Earl of Ulster and Lord of Connacht. Before the podcast ends Ireland is gripped by war, barbarism and uncertainty.

Bridget Cleary - the last woman burned alive in Ireland

Jul 12, 2016 34:20


In 1895 Bridget Cleary made international news after she was burned to death in South Tipperary. Rumours circulated she had been accused of being a witch. Could this be true? On the eve of the 20th century a woman was burned as a witch in Ireland. This podcast tells the full story and looks at the horrific murder of Bridget Cleary - the last person who was burned to death in Ireland.

The 'witch' Mary Doheny and a 19th century supernatural scam.

Jun 30, 2016 18:08


Mary Doheny was born in Ireland in the 1820s.  A ruthless, mysterious and controversial woman she gained notoriety in the 1860s. In 1864 she stood trial for organising one of the most bizarre scams of the 19th century which involved among other things raising people from the dead. Unsurprisingly rumours of witchcraft were never far from what was an incredible story. Hear her fascinating but forgotten history in the latest show.

Ireland’s Forgotten World War II Bombings

Jun 13, 2016 20:04


The Irish Free State remained neutral in World War II. Nevertheless the country and its people still faced attack. In 1941 the Nazis bombed the North Strand in Dublin. However the most lethal explosion took place in a remote corner of Donegal killing 19 people. An eyewitness recalled a "tremendous explosion shook the heavens and a brilliant blinding flash of light illuminated the countryside lighting up mountains many miles to the rear" Hear the forgotten story of this and the other casualties of World War II bombs in Ireland in this episode.

As a podcast listener you can also avail of a 20% discount on my new audio book '1348: A Medieval Apocalypse: The Black Death in Ireland'. Just use the coupon code 'listener' at

Hubert Butler - Ireland’s forgotten World War II hero.

May 9, 2016 22:02


Hubert Butler (1900-1991) is a forgotten Irish hero. In 1938-39 he traveled to the Nazi Third Reich to help Jews escape persecution. While he ultimately helped save 150 people from the holocaust, he was not celebrated in Ireland. Instead after he revealed how the church was involved in supporting the Nazi allies in Yugoslavia he suffered what was in effect internal exile. Listen to Hubert's fascinating story in this podcast.

New Black Death book (preview & listeners discount)

May 5, 2016 09:31


I've just released my new book '1348: A Medieval Apocalypse - The Black Death in Ireland' at This couldn't have happened without your support so this episode has an extract and info on how to get your 20% exclusive listeners discount. Thanks for all the support folks!


'1348: A Medieval Apocalypse' will immerse you in a fascinating and forgotten world. Late medieval Ireland was a land ravaged by invasion, famine and disease where history proves stranger than fiction.

The book begins in 1315 when a Scots army invaded Ulster triggering three years of devastating war and famine. Ireland had scarcely recovered before the greatest killer in recorded human history – The Black Death – struck in 1348. Life would never be the same again. As this devastating plague swept through Ireland’s cities and towns, many believed they were facing the end of the world.

Telling the story of eight individuals who lived through such chaotic times, the book is laced with evocative details from daily life in late medieval Ireland.

From the life of James Butler, the Earl of the Ormond to that of Johanna Stackpoll (a previously unknown Dublin widow unearthed in research) this book will fascinate and unnerve in equal measure.

Some people were survivors, others were less fortunate, their stories are all fascinating.

Funded by listeners to The Irish History Podcast book is exclusively available through

Free State or Fair State: Ireland after Independence

Apr 20, 2016 26:55


In 1921 the War of Independence came to an end. Many had high hopes for what the future held in store for them in an Independent Ireland. However while people lived in what was officially called the Irish Free State, Fin asks was it a free or fair state?

This episode is not suitable for younger listeners as it contains references to sex.

The Revolution Underground (Secret Societies, Communism and Coal Part V 1919-1922)

Mar 7, 2016 37:32


In 1919 the War of Independence broke out in Ireland. In Castlecomer, Ireland’s largest mining community, this had a profound effect. While the I.R.A. fought the British Army in the surrounding countryside, below ground the miners waged their own revolution. This brought not only ambushes and assassination to Castlecomer but strikes, industrial Sabotage & kidnapping. Listen to the full show to hear this enthralling story!

The Road to War (1894 -1918) – Secret Societies, Communism and Coal Part IV

Jan 18, 2016 49:57


'The Road to War' returns to my series on the Castlecomer Coalfields. It takes you on a gripping journey through life in one small Irish town and the surrounding coalfields between 1894 & 1918. From the relative peace of the 1890s to the dark years of World War I and the tumultuous days of the Easter Rising, life in Castlecomer and its mines was never dull.

This show also reveals for the first time the attitude  of R.H. Wandesforde (one of of Ireland's most famous businessmen & mine owner) towards the 1916 Rising. He voiced some pretty controversial opinions when writing to his wife Florence. While he never thought these letters would see the light of day, they are (for the first time in a century) published in this episode.

The research and time needed to produce this episode was funded by listeners like yourself. You can help me research the next episode by donating towards the costs of making the show at

A Christmas Feast in Medieval Ireland

Dec 16, 2015 13:56


The turkey only arrived in Northern Europe in 16th century so what did people eat for Christmas Dinner? In this episode I look at the foods available in medieval Ireland. This includes everything from larks cooked in cinnamon and cloves, geese cooked in garlic to soggy pies and lethal takeaways!

The Superstitions and Strange Customs of Medieval Ireland.

Dec 15, 2015 12:17


Strange as it may sound, if you lived in the Northwest of Ireland 1000 years ago you may well have witnessed your king attempting to mate with a horse! Medieval Ireland was a very strange place and this show looks at the stranger aspects of magic, superstition and the custom from the world of our medieval ancestors...

Ireland's hidden hand in history

Dec 14, 2015 18:00


Its Christmas and to celebrate I am releasing three podcasts this week. This episode looks at the Ireland's hidden hand in history - Irish people who you have never heard of but nevertheless played key roles in history. For example the first is a 50 year old Irish woman who tried to assassinate the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini in 1920s. Others include Eliza Lynch a cork woman who became the first lady of Paraguay in the 19th century and Joseph Kavanagh a leading figure in the French Revolution. This show also includes a competition and an update about my book on the Black Death.

The Land War & the Great 1881 Strike – Secret Societies, Communism and Coal Part III

Nov 7, 2015 24:05


In the aftermath of the famine the people of Castlecomer were shell-shocked, reeling from years of death, disease and emigration. However by the 1880s this had changed. When yet another famine threatened in 1879, and landlords threatened eviction, tenants across Ireland rose up in rebellion. The miners of Castlecomer, not to be left behind, launched the Great Coal Strike of 1881. Hear this fascinating story here in this latest episode of Secret Societies, Communism and Coal – Life in the Castlecomer Colliery.


The Great Famine in Castlecomer - Secret Societies, Communism and Coal Part II

Oct 3, 2015 24:50


In 1845 life in the Castlecomer Coalfields was racked by economic recession and grinding poverty. When the potato crop, the staple diet of millions across Ireland, failed disaster struck. In the following years around one million Irish people died and over one million emigrated.

In Castlecomer the fate of thousands lay in the hands on one man - Charles Wandesforde - the mine owner and local landlord. His decisions were controversial but it not easy to decide whether they were good bad. One thing is for certain life in the coalfield would never be the same again.

Secret Societies, Communism & Coal; Life in the Castlecomer Colliery Part I..

Sep 15, 2015 22:27


For three centuries the town of Castlecomer in North Co. Kilkenny staged one of the most fascinating but forgotten struggles in Irish history. Miners who worked in some of the most harsh working conditions constantly struggled against the mine owner. Given it was often a matter of life and death this struggle was often bitter and conflict was never far from the surface. This saw the miners form secret societies, trade unions, republican and indeed even communist organisations. This is the first of four podcast to tell their story being in the 17th century.

The Black Death, Black Lung & The Great Famine

Sep 7, 2015 19:47


Fin hasn't joined a Black Metal band. However this episode is a break from the usual format and explores three very different topics. The Black Death section takes you through the medieval equivalent of the Battle of Stalingrad - The Siege of Calais 1346-47, while updating you on when my upcoming book on the plague is out. Then the show delves into the harsh world of mining in the 19th century before turning to some thoughts on the Great Famine.

The Conquered Lands - The Norman Invasion part XXIII

Sep 3, 2015 31:46


By 1190 the Normans were utterly dominant throughout much of Ireland. As undisputed masters they set about tranforming their lands into societies modelled on their homelands in Wales and England. Gaelic Society was destroyed. This podcast looks at what exactly this change was like, what happened and what it was like to live in the Norman Colony. In order to gain a clear insight the show focuses on the Gaelic Kingdom of Ossory and how it became the Norman County of Kilkenny.

The North - The Norman Invasion XXII (1190 - 1205)

Aug 18, 2015 31:39


In this episode the Normans push far into the North and North west. There they come up against one of the greatest powers in medieval Ireland  - the kingdom of Tyrone and its ruling families - the O’Neills and their cousins the McLochlainns. The last of the great Gaelic Irish kingdoms faces an onslaught but will it survive? Hear the full story in this podcast. 

The Battle for Connacht - The Norman Invasion XXI (1190 - 1205)

Jul 16, 2015 29:19


The Kingdom of Connacht in the west of Ireland represented one of the greatest obstacles to Norman domination of Ireland. The ruling family, the O'Connors had resisted Norman intrusion into their kingdom on several occasions. However in the 1190s their power began to fade.  As three members of the family  - Cathal 'of the Red Hand' O'Connor, his brother and grandnephew battled for the crown, the Normans were quick to intervene. The results were disastrous. Led by William Burke and the self styled 'Prince of Ulster' John de Courcy, their arrival saw Connacht explode in violence.

This show proved to be one of the most difficult to write and make. While I have a fairly good handle on the topic, the intrigues that make it interesting are byzantine in nature.

The very essences of the story - a dispute within the O'Connor family is deeply confusing. There are four distinct factions all lead by relatives who share similar names.

The faction is lead by Rory O'Connor while two others are lead by his brother Cathal 'of the Red Hand' and his son Conor (yes his name is Conor O'Connor!). Finally to make matter even more complicated a fourth faction is lead by Conor's son, another Cathal. He was known as a Cathal 'Carrach' O'Connor.

To make the storyflow easier I changed Cathal 'Carrach' O'Connor's name to the simpler Carrach (pronounced Carr-ock)O'Connor.

The Norman side is equally complex. The two leading figures are John de Courcy and William Burke. Burke supported three differing factions and this makes their involvement labyrinthine at times.

When you listen to the show I would be really grateful if you could let me know what you thought - feedback is very useful when I am making future shows. Thanks

My enemy's enemy is still my enemy, The Norman Invasion XX - (1190s)

Jun 22, 2015 19:07


Part XX sees us enter the 1190s and the Norman Invasion enters what might be called end game. In this decade they begin to advance in to the far west of the island. The Gaelic Irish response is at times baffling. Old internal feuds only intensify as the ruling families cannot let go of past transgressions and unify against the Normans. This leads to a disasterous otcome. This episode looks at events in Munster while coming shows will look at Connacht and Ulster.


Living and dying by the sword - The Norman Invasion XIX (1186-89)

Jun 2, 2015 25:38


This show covers the chaotic years between 1186 and 1189. Assassinations, warfare and violence break out across Ireland as many of  the key figures in the story so far struggle to survive in what is an increasingly unpredictable world. 

My medieval roadtrip is on this weekend. If you want to book a ticket for this unique trip visiting some of the best sites in medieval Ireland contact me now at

Prince John in Ireland - Norman Invasion XVIII (1185)

May 21, 2015 28:19


Bad, possibly mad and very dangerous, Prince John was one of the most notorious men of the Middle Ages. While his cruel reputation is preserved in the Robin Hood myths his real life notoriety began in Ireland in 1185. If the Island did not have enough problems in the aftermath of the Norman Invasion, the arrival of this prince threatened not only the Gaelic Irish kings but the existing Norman Colonists aswell. Hear the full story of the Johns escapades in Ireland in this show.

To book tickets for the Bus tour mentioned in the show mail

Road Trip Through Medieval Ireland.

Apr 13, 2015 20:20


A few weeks ago I hit the road with a recorder taking in some of the best medieval sites in Ireland. The show takes in 1000 years of Irish history in one day-trip. Starting in around the year 600 in the monastery Glendalough at sunrise before driving through the Wicklow mountains to Kilkenny, I visited many places mentioned in the podcast. The trip finished off in the 16th century in a spot off the beaten track, but a real forgotten gem.

You can join me on a similar trip on Saturday June 6th (2015). Mail to reserve your spot.

Liberty and Riots: Magna Carta in Ireland

Mar 25, 2015 17:26


Magna Carta is the most famous medieval document ever written and the story behind it a fascinating. Forged amidst a civil war in England some people even claim it is the cornerstone of modern democracy. This podcast looks at the brutal reign of King John which led to Magna Carta being written, before looking at its impact in Ireland. The show concludes with why I think its over rated and perhaps why medieval riots are as important....

Irish-American Radicals - The Forgotten Emigrants

Mar 17, 2015 20:08


This podcast tells the story of Irish-Americans who have been forgotten by history. These were the revolutionaries, feminists, socialists, and trade union organisers in the early 20th century . Often dubbed as unamerican they strenuously rejected this notion. They saw themselves as much Americans or Irish American as much as anyone else, they just held a very different view of what America should be. Hear their fascinating story in the show.


The Conquest of Ulster - The Norman Invasion of Ireland XVII (1177-85).

Mar 4, 2015 27:22


This episode covers a frenetic period of activity. The show starts in 1181 when Hugh de Lacy is suspected of treason by Kking Henry II. The Normans in Ireland wait with bated breath to see what future holds for their most powerful Lord. From there we travel to Munster in 1182 where a revolt breaks out leading to the death of one of the most well known of the invaders. Finally in the second half of the show we return to Ulster where a somewhat mysterious figure, the knight John de Courcy, was leading the Norman charge north against one of Ireland's most powerful families - the O'Neills.

The arrival of Hugh de Lacy - The Norman Invasion XVI (1177-81)

Feb 11, 2015 20:12


This show sees the arrival of the man who is probably the most important figure in our story after Strongbow. Hugh de Lacy, the Lord of Meath ruled over 800,000 acres of land north of Dublin. When he arrived however it was ruined by years of war. During his first four years as the kings representative in Ireland he transformed these territories, but it came at a cost. Nevertheless by the time he was finished many would struggle to recognise what had once been the Southern O'Neill kingdom of Meath.

(1177) The Norman Invasion XV - The Invasion of Munster.

Jan 27, 2015 20:22


So far in the story of the invasion the kingdoms of Munster - Desmond and Thomond have escaped relatively unscathed. That is until this episode. In this show we see a fresh Norman army land in Waterford bent on conquering Munster. They are however stepping into a minefield of bloody feuds that stretch back centuries. In this episode I take a different approach, focusing on experience of the Gaelic Irish rather than the Normans. This takes us into a bitter world of dynastic feuds and bloody struggles for domination in the world of Gaelic Munster. Add a Norman army into the mix and the results are explosive.

(1176-77) The Norman Invasion XIV – New Blood

Jan 12, 2015 30:11


The last show on the Norman Invasion ended in somewhat dramatic circumstances with the death of Strongbow, the leader of the Norman Invasion. As you can imagine the fall out from this was immense.

The episode begins with a group of Normans lead by Raymond le Gros who hear the news when they are deep in Gaelic territory. No one knows how the kings of Gaelic Ireland will react when they hear the news. Some will surely take the chance to revolt. Raymond tries to keep the news secret while he attempts to escape back to the safety of Dublin. Meanwhile other Norman knights in Ireland, seize the opportunity to launch new conquests. This results in one of the most dramatic events of the entire invasion - the conquest of Eastern Ulster.

You can find a map of medieval Ireland here

Grubs up - Food in medieval Ireland.

Dec 23, 2014 07:48


Many of the foods you will eat on Christmas day were unknown to medieval Europeans. Turkey, cranberries and even potatoes only arrived in Europe after the conquest of the Americas began. This podcast looks at the world of medieval food to see at what was available . You will be surprised at the variety of food in medieval Ireland (if you had the money). This show also looks at the strange, lethal and somewhat scary world of takeaway food in medieval Ireland.

(1175-76) The Norman Invasion XIII – The end of the beginning

Dec 10, 2014 20:15


This podcast takes the story to a pivotal year in the Norman Invasion of Ireland - 1176. The episode begins where part XII left off - the aftermath of Raymond le Gros' successful siege of Limerick. Raymond makes his way back to Dublin where he receives the shock of lifetime. He is not welcomed by his fellow Normans but instead faces accusations of treachery.  This show sees the Normans turn on each other and then ends in the most dramatic of circumstances! Listen to find out more about these intriguing events


(1173-75) The Norman Invasion XII - Revolt and Reprisal

Dec 4, 2014 30:39


In 1173 Strongbow returned to Ireland after fighting in Normandy for his king Henry II. Within months he faced one of the biggest crises since the invasion had begun as Gaelic resistance to the Invasion surged. Not only was his castle at Kilkenny destroyed but west of the Shannon Ireland's most powerful king Rory O'Connor was planning a major assault on the colony. The Norman presence in Ireland teetered on the brink of potential annihilation. Listen to the podcast to find out what happened.

Did the Irish Government cover up mass starvation in 1920s?

Nov 12, 2014 16:30


In the Spring of 1925 newspapers around the world carried stories that a famine had broken out in Ireland. The Manchester Guardian reported 750,000 people were at risk, a figure repeated by the Soviet Union's daily Pravda. However there is no mention of this "famine" in Irish history books so in I went to the National Archives in search of evidence. What I found was tragic details of yet another cover up. Listen to the show to find out what I discovered.

If you have any questions or queries about this show you can mail me at or find me at Irishhistory on twitter and  Irishhistorypodcast on facebook.

Update on the Norman Invasion

Nov 11, 2014 03:05


This is a brief update on whats coming next in the Norman invasion series.

(1174) The Norman Invasion XI: A tour of Ireland in 1174

Nov 7, 2014 28:51


The year is 1174, much of Ireland is reeling from 5 years of warfare since the Norman Invasion began in earnest in 1169. The island is gripped by sweeping change and chaos. This podcast is an enthralling journey through this land ravaged by conflict. 

Before I continue the story of the invasion this episodes stops and takes stock of how the invasion so far was changing life in Ireland. Taking the form of a tour around Ireland it looks at the varying impacts across the Island from war-torn Meath and Leinster to Ulster and Connacht revealing a population traumatised, living in  uncertain times with only more chaos and upheaval on the horizon. The show looks at Ireland through eyes of Marcus Judeus one of the earliest Jews recorded in Ireland who had probably arrived in Dublin in the aftermath of the conquest.Find out more about my upcoming book at

Halloween Special: Ireland's first witch-burning (Kilkenny 1324)

Oct 31, 2014 21:11


On November 2nd 1324, Petronilla of Meath, one of 12 people charged with witchcraft in Kilkenny was burned at the stake in the town. She was the first person to suffer this horrendous fate in Irish history. In this festively themed podcast I trace the story behind this fascinating case and those accused and convicted of witchcraft. What actually happened in Kilkenny in 1324? Was Petronilla of Meath a witch? And what were medieval witches supposed to have done anyway?Contact me with any questions, queries and suggestions for future shows at


Riots, murder and the mob; protest in medieval Ireland.

Oct 20, 2014 18:06


The story of protest in medieval Ireland is a forgotten but fascinating chapter in our history. While forthright and often violent these protests voiced the concerns of ordinary people so often excluded from written records. In this podcast I look at five protests from late medieval Ireland including a water tax in 1244 and Ireland's first recorded strike in 1299. The intriguing stories behind these protests are brought to light for the first time in centuries in this podcast.

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(1172-1174) The Norman Invasion X. The return to war.

Oct 14, 2014 26:36


At Easter 1172 Henry II left Ireland, having spent six months on the island. Before departing he conferred the Kingdom of Meath onto the Norman baron Hugh de Lacy. However Meath already a king, in fact it had several. Through most of the 12th century numerous Irish kings had been laying claim to what was one of the oldest territories in Ireland. Naturally when de Lacy tried to claim what Henry II had no right to give him he faced opposition. However nothing is simple and his attempted invasion of Meath took a most unusual direction.

This show also sees Henry II return home to face rebellion not only from his sons but also his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine. This revolt has massive consequences for Strongbow, Hugh de Lacy and the Normans in Ireland who are soon embroiled in one of the bitterest family disputes in history.

You can contact me at, or email at

(1171-72) The Norman Invasion IX - King Henry II in Ireland

Sep 25, 2014 24:56


On October 17th 1172 Henry II became the first King of England to set foot in Ireland. Henry had come in the hope to proclaiming himself lord over the entire island. Awaiting him were not just his own Norman subjects who had been fighting in Ireland since 1169 but also dozens of Gaelic kings. How these kings in particular would react to Henry's claims would be crucial. The King however had prepared for all eventualities bringing an army of over 4,000 warriors and even prefabricated siege towers. In the show I look at how Henry was received, why he had come and what a medieval royal visit like this looked like.

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(1171) The Norman Invasion VIII – The arrival of Henry II

Sep 10, 2014 24:17


Despite their victory at the siege of Dublin (covered in Part VII), Strongbow and his Normans followers in Ireland are by no means in a secure position. In Wexford their comrade-in-arms Robert FitzStephen is being held prisoner. Meanwhile across Leinster they face widespread opposition. The man who invited them to Ireland Diarmait McMurrough is dead and his brother is hostile to the Normans. Meanwhile the neighbouring king of Ossory, Gillapatrick, is a constant threat. If these aren't enough problems, King Henry II in England is demanding answers as to what is happening in Ireland and decides he will come in person to investigate. This podcast takes us through a hectic three months period in late 1171 as Strongbow tries to stabilise his presence in Ireland but the odds are he will fail....

You can subscribe to the my podcast series on the Black Death at


(1171) The Norman Invasion VII - The second siege of Dublin

Aug 29, 2014 27:10


This podcast sees the Normans suffer a ferocious backlash after their conquests in the year of 1170. A Norse army including beserkers - feared viking warriors - attack Dublin before a vast host lead by the king of Connacht - Rory O'Connor besieges the town. The Norman presence in Ireland hangs by a thread as they lose the few friends they had. This episode also sees tensions ramp between Strongbow and his king back home Henry II who is increasingly fearful Strongbow is about to establish a rival kingdom in Ireland.

At the end of the episode I have an exciting announcement about how you can get more exclusive podcasts on Irish history and how you can have your say over my next book. You can find out more at

(1170-71) The Norman Invasion VI - The first siege of Dublin

Aug 13, 2014 24:47


After their brutal conquest of Waterford, Diarmait McMurrough and his Norman allies marshaled their forces and marched on Dublin. If the most important town in medieval Ireland fell into their hands it could be a game changer. The claims of Rory O'Connor of Connacht to be Ireland's most powerful king would be in tatters. This scenario set up a major conflict over Dublin as Rory marched west, reaching the town before the Normans and digging in. Listen to the show to find out what happened....

In the show I ask for your feedback on this series on the Norman Invasion @irishhistory on twitter, Irishhistorypodcast on facebook or if email works better you'll find me at

(1170) The Norman Invasion V. The arrival of Strongbow and the Siege of Waterford.

Aug 1, 2014 29:26


In the summer of 1170, Ireland stood on a precipice. After the arrival of several hundred Norman mercenaries in 1169 the fortunes of Diarmait McMurrough had changed. He had reconquered his lost power in the kingdom of Leinster and re-established himself as a major player in Irish politics.

However this was only the beginning, a violent prelude to Diarmait’s main ambition. He was still waiting for the main force of his mercenaries lead by the Norman Lord Strongbow to arrive and when they did they in the summer of 1170 they did not fail to make their mark. The arrival of the Norman lord and 1200 men signaled the beginning of a dark period in Irish history fittingly preceeded by the battle of Baginbun in May and then followed by the siege of Waterford in August. These crucial encounters form the basis of this episode.

Let me know you thoughts on the show @irishhistory on twitter or

(1169-70) The Norman Invasion IV. The siege of Wexford and the conquest of Leinster.

Jul 18, 2014 31:12


On May 1st 1169, Robert FitzStephen a Norman Knight from Wales, finds himself on Bannow Strand, Ireland leading 300 Norman mercenaries. Their mission - to restore Diarmait McMurrough, the one time gaelic king of Leinster to power. However both they and Diarmait have much greater ambitions.

With a few days of arriving in Ireland the Normans are outside the walls of Wexford besieging what is one of Ireland's most important medieval towns. Although few know it at the time the Norman conquest is well underway. However its not all plain sailing for the Normans - before this show ends they will face the wrath of Ireland's most powerful king Rory O'Connor. 


(1167-1169) The Norman Invasion III, the conquest begins.

Jun 26, 2014 23:29


This podcast looks at the first Normans to arrive in Ireland, in a chapter often forgotten by the history books. These mercenaries accompany Diarmait McMurrough who returned to Ireland in 1167  to pave the way for the larger forces of Strongbow. However if these warriors led by Robert FitzGodibert, thought the Gaelic Irish were going to be a pushover they are in for a rude awakening.

They quickly run into the might of Rory O'Connor, perhaps the most powerful Gaelic King in Irish history and things don't go according to plan. Let me know what you thought of the show by contacting me @irishhistory on twitter or irishhistorypodcast on facebook

Dark truths and open secrets – who knew what about Ireland's child abuse scandal?

Jun 17, 2014 11:27


Over the last few weeks Ireland has been rocked by yet another child abuse scandal. Newspaper headlines around the world have reported in disbelief details of how society in Ireland treated unmarried mothers and their children in so called “Mother and Child homes". Child mortality rates reached over 50% in some of these institutions.

While many around the world are understandably astounded as to how a society could be so cruel to children, in Ireland this is only the latest chapter in a long horrific story of institutional abuse that has been emerging over the last two decades. As a light is finally shone into the darkest recesses of modern Irish history, the question of how will Irish society deal with this is increasingly important. It is here where history has a crucial role to play.

For years the dominant narrative around abuse in Ireland was that it took place behind closed doors and that the vast majority of people had no idea it was being perpetrated. However historical research indictaes this is not entirely true. I think if we are to move forward and deal with our dark past we must acknowledge who knew what and why they were powerless to act. In this podcast, based on this article, I am going to look over some of the evidence that indicates there was a widespread knowledge of child abuse in Ireland throughout the 20th century.

Let me know what your thought of the show by contacting me @irishhistory on twitter or irishhistorypodcast on facebook.




(1166-67) The Norman Invasion II - In search of kings, lords & allies.

Jun 13, 2014 24:41


This show looks at some of the most pivotal events in Ireland's history. As Part I of the Norman invasion drew to a close Diarmait McMurrough, the King of Leinster was routed after his powerful ally Muirchertach McLochlainn was killed in 1166. His rivals Rory O'Connor and Tiernan O'Rourke then forced him into exile.

This episode follows Diarmait as he journeys across into the medieval crossroads that was the Irish sea in the Middle Ages. Diarmait is on mission to find allies in the powerful Norman Angevin Empire ruled by Henry II. He is in a desperate position - if he cannot secure the help of Henry II to restore him to power he is doomed.

Diarmait's enthralling quest takes us across Northern Europe from Wales to Normandy and even as far as the Duchy of Aquitaine in western France. Before the show ends he will have met with King Henry II and several Norman nobles not least among them the famous Lord - Strongbow. As Diarmait negotiates with these men - some of the most  of the age - seeking military aid, the history of Ireland hangs in the balance!

(1156 -1166) The Norman Invasion Part I

May 30, 2014 37:25


This is the first in a multipart series on the Norman invasion of Ireland. The Invasion was one of the most important and fascinating events in Irish history beginning Ireland's turbulent relationship with England. While the first Norman mercenaries landed in 1167 the back story to their arrival is crucial to understanding the subsequent invasion. This backstory forms the basis of this podcast. It is a great tale in its own right - the story of the last great contest between Gaelic Kings to dominate Ireland. This sees Rory O'Connor of Connacht and Muirchertach McLochlainn of Ulster fight a protracted war over ten years. Through this fascinating and bloody encounter you will meet kings who will become key players during the invasion which will be covered in future shows. These include Diarmait McMurrough and Tiernan O'Rourke.

In the podcast I advertise my upcoming tour of medieval Dublin which is on Saturday, June 14th. Places are strictly limited - to guarantee your spot mail me at

The IRA, the Boston College Tapes and who tells the past?

May 13, 2014 36:46


1972 was one of the darkest yet defining years in modern Irish history. Nearly five hundred people were killed in the conflict known as “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland. Events of that year like Bloody Sunday, Bloody Friday and Operation Motorman would shape Ireland for decades to come. In many ways one death has been remembered more than any other – this was abduction and murder of Jean McConville in December 1972.


In the last two weeks this event in particular has brought 1972 back centre stage when the prominent Irish politician and leader of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams was arrested in relation to Mrs. McConville’s murder. This has had huge implications for history, as much of the case against Adams appears to have originated in a historical archive seized by the police.


In this podcast I look at the events in Ireland in 1972 and how it has come to pass that 42 years later one of the Ireland’s most prominent politicians arrested. What was in this historical archive? What are the rights of historians to record history vs. the rights of families of victims who may want to read private archives looking of answers? What are the rights of people to their good name when allegations are made about them in historical interviews? Finally perhaps the most important question for historians - who has the right to record our history? This show takes you through these controversial questions and indeed the interviews conducted with former members of the IRA revealing what the allegations made were.

Let me know what your thought of the show by contacting me @irishhistory on twitter or irishhistorypodcast on facebook.

Ireland 1014 - What a difference a millennium makes

Apr 24, 2014 10:15


1000 years today, one of the most famous battle in Irish history, the Battle of Clontarf  took place. While I have made an audiobook about that the events surrounding Clontarf and Irelands greatest high-king Brian Boru (available at, I nonetheless wanted to mark this momentous anniversary with a podcast. In this show I look at Ireland in 1014 and some of the things about that world that would stun, shock and surprise us. From Population to paganism there is alot about the world of Clontarf and Brian Boru thats often forgotten!

Five of the greatest killers in Irish history

Apr 16, 2014 22:38


In a show with a title such as this you might expect names such as Oliver Cromwell or Strongbow to feature heavily. While these men are responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in Ireland, the greatest killers in Irish history are not humans but disease. In this show I take a look at the worst diseases to hit Ireland and how they changed the course of our history. 




Let me know what your thought of the show by contacting me @irishhistory on twitter or irishhistorypodcast on facebook.


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Friend or Foe: The Impact of the potato on Irish history

Mar 25, 2014 22:43


The potato is synonymous with the biggest disaster in Irish history – the Great Famine of the 1840s when nearly one million people died and another million emigrated. However this is only part of the story of the potato in Irish history.  The arrival of the potato in Ireland transformed the island and resulted in changes in how people lived their lives and what the landscape looked like. It even led to changes in the peoples' appearance. In the podcast I examine the good, the bad and the ugly of the potato's fascinating and checkered relationship with Ireland and Irish history.

Let me know what your thought of the show by contacting me @irishhistory on twitter or irishhistorypodcast on facebook.

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Ireland's other great famine - the year of Slaughter of 1740-41

Mar 13, 2014 19:45


Everyone has heard of the Great Potato Famine of the 1840's when around 10% of the Irish population died from starvation and disease. This however was not the worst famine in Irish history. A century earlier in the 1740s the island was ravaged by an event known as the year of slaughter when as much as 20% of the population succumbed to famine and related diseases. This podcast tells the story of a bizarre year of weather, crop failures and what was unbelievable indifference among the rich of 18th century Ireland to the plight of a starving people.

The Battle of Ath-an-Chip and the life of the rebel king Aodh O'Connor.

Mar 5, 2014 25:29


In 1270 the battle of Ath-an-Chip saw a major Gaelic Army take on the forces of the powerful Norman Lord of Connacht Walter de Burgh on the upper reaches of the river Shannon. This decisive battle would shape the history of medieval Ireland in Connacht for decades if not centuries. To understand this fascinating battle we need to look at the life of Aodh O'Connor, the leader of the Gaelic Army. Aodh's life had been spent  resisting Norman incursions into O'Connor territory but in 1270 he faced the biggest test of his life at Ath-an-Chip. Listen to find out more....

Let me know what your thought of the show by contacting me @irishhistory on twitter or irishhistorypodcast on facebook.

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Medieval Ireland - Was there ever any good old days?

Feb 27, 2014 19:42


Most of the podcasts I make focus on the darker aspects of medieval life. War is a common theme and famine is never far away. However in this podcast I am asking the question was life in medieval Ireland ever anything other than an endless struggle for survival. To start the show we look at the Vale of Dublin in 1326 when the region was almost an apocalyptic wasteland before turning the clock back to 1234 and taking a look at the region in its better days.

Let me know what your thought of the show by contacting me @irishhistory on twitter or irishhistorypodcast on facebook.

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Climate change in Medieval Ireland; a warning from the past.

Feb 21, 2014 26:10


The weather in Ireland recently has been dire. The country has seen torrential rain, severe flooding and storms on an unprecedented scale in the last few months. This has left many people wondering what the future holds if this is the start of Climate Change taking effect.

Strangely we may find some clues as to what lies ahead in our medieval past, as we are not the first people to experience such challenging weather. In the late 13th & early 14th centuries Ireland was also battered by storms and maligned by poor weather. This podcast takes a look at some of the ways it impacted the medieval world. While society didn't collapse if the experience of our ancestors is anything to go by our future could be something of a rocky and hungry road!

Let me know what your thought of the show by contacting me @irishhistory on twitter or irishhistorypodcast on facebook.

The Sounds of Medieval Life - A walk through Dublin in 1320

Feb 12, 2014 19:02


What did Dublin sound like in 1320? What was the news of the day? Who were the people who lived there? In this episode you will experience the world of late medieval Dublin. The podcast takes the form of a walk through the city as it was in 1320 where we encounter everything from pigs roaming the streets to the city hangman Philip of Colchester.

This show is different from previous episodes so let me know what you make of it by contacting me @irishhistory on twitter or irishhistorypodcast on facebook.

I will be giving tours of medieval Dublin in the coming months - if you are interested contact me at  

You can download the episode below or in iTunes here

From Carpenter's son to King - the Lambert Simnel conspiracy of 1487.

Feb 5, 2014 22:46


Lambert Simnel's life must be one of the most unusual stories from medieval history. Born the son of a carpenter he became embroiled in a conspiracy to overthrow Henry VII and before he knew what was happening he became the only person ever crowned king of England in Ireland. After this the 12 year old set off to claim his kingdom by invading England. Beginning with murder of the famous 'King in Car park' Richard III, Lambert's tale is a fascinating story of intrigue, conspiracy and deception with a pretty surprising ending!

In this episode I am making an appeal for contributions to cover a series of podcast related costs I have incurred recently after I had to replace my laptop and microphone. You can contribute online at

You can listen to the show here

or download at the link below

Prostitution in Medieval Ireland - the story of Cristiana la Sadelhackere

Jan 24, 2014 14:17


This podcast is based on this article I wrote on my blog ( about Cristiana la Sadelhackere, a woman who worked as a prostitute in medieval Ireland. Her story is an intriguing account of a precarious life on the fringes of medieval society struggling against the authorities of the day. The podcast also takes a fascinating look at why women became prostitutes in medieval Ireland and how wider society viewed them.

You can listen to the show here

or download directly at the link below

Drogheda 1310 - Murder and Solidarity in a Medieval Crisis.

Dec 5, 2013 22:02


The year is 1310. Ireland was gripped by a severe economic, military and political crisis - pretty much everything that could go wrong had gone wrong for the Norman colonists. In October, a man called Jordan the Chaplain made his way to Drogheda, a major port in medieval Ireland. However not long after arriving he got involved in a dispute with one of the townspeople - Robert the Tailor. What started as a fraca in a tavern, quickly escalated begining a fascinating story which ended in a murder, producing strange and unexpected reactions in the divided and crisis ridden Drogheda.

This podcast is a little different that many of the previous episodes. In this story, I attempt to explain how a major crisis in Ireland in the 14th century affected two ordinary people who lived  in these trying times. Through this story of murder and unexpected solidarity the podcast explains why such what were seemingly minor events were indicative of much bigger changes underway in medieval Ireland. It is a bit of an experiment so I would appreciate feedback - whether you enjoyed the show and whether agree with my argument or disagree, mail me at

You can listen to the show here or download at the link below

(1101 - 1103) The Great War of Ulster and Munster Part II

Nov 11, 2013 21:07


This show returns to the story of Gaelic Ireland in the final decades prior to the Norman Invasion. Ireland is being torn apart by long running tensions between the kings of Munster and Ulster. The show begins in 1101 with Donal McLochlainn the king of the O'Neills on his knees. His great rival Muirchertach O'Briain, the king of Munster had just invaded and ravaged his kingdom. However Donal is by no means finished; further war and bloodshed loom ahead. However for the people of medieval Ireland this is not the only problem they face as in 1102 the king of Norway Magnus Barelegs arrives threatening invasion!

You can hear part one here

The Top 5 turning points in Medieval Ireland, Part II (the Battle of Athenry)

Oct 15, 2013 25:47


This podcast concludes our journey through the Top 5 turning points of Medieval Ireland. This show focuses on one of the most intriguing events of our medieval past, the Battle of Athenry in 1316. This conflict occured during one of the most fascinating wars in Irish history - the Bruce Invasion of 1315-18. In May 1315, a Scots army led by Edward Bruce, brother to the King of Scotland, invaded Ireland, so this podcast starts in Scotland, with none other than William Wallace a.k.a. Braveheart making an appearance.Then it follows the Scots invasion of Ireland in a story of sieges, battles, deceit and even cannibalism! Although the war would last until 1318, the decisive turning point I argue occured beneath the walls of Athenry on the 10th of August 1316. While there was not a single Scot on this battlefield this particularly bloody affair decided their fate nonetheless. Tune in to see how!

Check out Part I here

If you want updates check the show out on facebook and follow irishhistory on twitter.

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Support the podcast by making a contribution toward the cost of sources here. Thanks!

The top 5 turning points in Medieval Ireland (Part I).

Oct 9, 2013 31:11


This episode is a whistlestop tour through medieval Ireland stopping off at battlefields along the way, taking a look at the top five  turning points as I see them. This podcast will introduce some of the key characters from Irish history, some of whom are well known such as Strongbow and Brian Boru, others less well-known but equally fascinating such as Flann Sinna and William 'Liath de Burgh'. Part I starts in 908 at the long forgotten battle of Ballymoon and finishes at the siege of Dublin in 1171. Part II out next week will conclude the top 5.

If you want updates check the show out on facebook and follow irishhistory on twitter.

Subscribe in iTunes

Support the podcast by making a contribution toward the cost of sources here. Thanks!

Ireland 1300 A.D., A tale of honour, violence and justice.

Oct 3, 2013 14:59


Honour was all important in Ireland in 1300 A.D. Unsurprisingly when a miller, Walter de Capella, insulted the mistress of John Thebaud it sparked a row between the two men. This row escalated and within a few short weeks a vicious and ultimately violent feud broke out. This podcast takes a look at this long forgotten story of two ordinary people from medieval Ireland. Previously untold, this is a dramatic and hair-raising story of medieval  honour, violence and justice that will make you feel lucky to be born in the 21st century!

If you want updates check the show out on facebook and follow irishhistory on twitter.

Subscribe in iTunes

Support the podcast by making a contribution toward the cost of sources here. Thanks!

Castlekevin: life and death on a medieval frontier.

May 30, 2013 29:10


Today, the long forgotten ruins of the medieval fortress and town of Castlekevin, situated in a remote valley in the Wicklow mountains are serene and peaceful. There is little evidence of this scenic valley's turbulent past. However in the early 14th century this castle became the epicentre of a ferocious struggle between Gaelic Irish and Norman Colonists in the Wicklow Mountains. This podcast is the fascinating story of the rise of Castlekevin, a colonial settlement deep in the foothills of the Wicklow mountains before charting its long and bloody battle for survival when the surrounding region became a battlezone.

To download right click on the file below and go to “save link as”.

The Norman Conquest of Connacht

May 13, 2013 24:24


During the high summer of 1235 the west of Ireland witnessed one of the most violent chapters in its history when the Normans invaded and conquered the province. This campaign culminated in the storming of an Island fortress using siege engines on floating platforms and fire-ships. This assault was the final chapter in a story that saw the Gaelic Irish in the province struggle to keep the Normans at bay after their initial invasion of the South and East of Ireland in the 1170s. Listen to this fascinating story of rivalry, warfare and the stuggle for survival of gaelic society in the west of Ireland.

The 1317 Siege of Dublin

May 13, 2013 12:58


In February 1317 Dublin faced its greatest crisis. A huge army lead by Robert the Bruce, the victor of Bannockburn, was making its way to lay siege to the city. There was no Norman army to save Dublin. The city’s inhabitants were effectively on their own. However everyone in the city could not be trusted, a few days earlier the Earl of Ulster who also happened to be Bruce’s father in law arrived in the city supposedly fleeing the Scots. What happened next is one the deadliest and strangest events in Dublin history. Set to the backdrop of famine this episode explores the history of one of Dublins darkest periods.

Special: Dennis Doherty – A Life of Survival Against the Odds

May 13, 2013 30:44


This episode looks at the fascinating story of Dennis Doherty. Born in Derry in 1814, Doherty would spend most of his life in Australian prisons or trying to break out of them. His story is remarkable – he was flogged 3,000 times and spent years in solitary confinement but yet he continually struggled for freedom.

This podcast journeys through the life of Dennis Doherty from a poverty stricken childhood in Ireland in the early 19th century to his time in the British Army and then his horrific life of incarceration in Australia.

You can read the article this podcast is based on here

The Great Gaelic Revolt of the 1270s

Mar 20, 2013 25:25


After the Norman conquest of Ireland, the Wicklow region was surprisingly peaceful. Despite the fact the Gaelic Irish had been dispossessed, many appeared to be getting on with life and adjusting to Norman Rule. This was deceptive and in 1270 a massive rebellion broke out deep in the Wicklow Mountains that would see settlement after settlement raided and burned. This is the story of that rebellion, a fascinating medieval tale that has everything  from the crusading Knights Hospitaller to assassins, ambushes and much more.

Dublin 1303: The Business of War

Mar 20, 2013 13:33


In 1303 the Earl of Ulster, Richard de Burgh, amassed a large army in Dublin which was destined for Scotland, where they would fight none other than William Wallace (a.k.a. Braveheart). However getting this army of thousands from Dublin to Scotland created a logistical nightmare. In the podcast we look at a forgotten story of medieval Dubliners who had to undertake what now seem as strange, unusual and often chaotic preparations to get a medieval army to the battlefield and the chaos this caused for people in early 14th century Dublin.

(1090-1101) The Great War of Ulster and Munster Part I

Mar 20, 2013 35:16


In 1090 Muirchertach O Briain, grandson of Brian Boru, faced the darkest moment of his rule as King of Munster. Defeated and vanquished by his rival the king of Ulster, Domnal McLochlainn, he faced two options; either accept his fate or try and claw his way back to power. Within a year he was at war begining an epic struggle. This podcast journeys through the final years of the 11th century as one of the worst plagues of the medieval period struck Ireland. Its not all bloodshed, misery and violence as this show also takes a look at what the medieval church thought of attitudes to sex in Gaelic Ireland.

(1072 -1090) The Return of the O Briains.

Mar 20, 2013 32:18


In 1072 the aging King of Leinster Diarmait Mc Mael na mBó died. His death saw the descendents of Brian Boru try to follow in the footsteps of their famous ancestor and dominate Ireland but there was a queue of people waiting to stop them.  Although initially Ireland witnessed a certain amount of stability, the rise of the O Briains sparked a ferocious struggle as several kings sought to dominate the island. In todays show we traverse Ireland in the late 11th century through a real life game of thrones, daring naval raids and unending brutality and war.

Life in Ireland in the 11th Century.

Mar 20, 2013 29:51


The year is 1067. Godwin Godwinson the son and heir to the dead Saxon king Harold Godwinson fled to Ireland after the Norman Invasion of England. This podcast looks at the world he found in Ireland. How did he travel to Ireland? What did Dublin look like, sound like and smell like? What did people eat? What did they look like? What weapons did people use? What was the Brehon law? All this and much more is answered in this podcast which follows the heirs of Harald Godwinson through Ireland in 1067.

Special: The Assassination of the land agent John Ellis

Mar 20, 2013 18:21


Episode 15 is a story of murder and injustice, set in 19th century Ireland. In a country struggling to recover from the famine tenants despised landlords and their agents who had treated them brutally during the famine. When an agent John Ellis was assassinated in north Tipperary in 1857 almost everyone in the area became a suspect. Find out what happened next...

(1022-1072) The Man Who would be King

Mar 20, 2013 01:08:14


Episode 14 sees Gaelic Ireland struggle to deal with the crisis and chaos that followed the death of the high king Maelseachnaill Mac Domnaill. This podcast journeys through a highly uncertain world where war was frequent and life had little value as several kings battled to control the island. We will see many try and emulate the great high kings including the most famous Diarmait Mc Mael na mBó, the king of Leinster. This show also includes a close look at the strange place that was Viking Dublin and the unknown history of the Gaelic Irish reaction to the norman invasion of England in 1066.

Special: The Nine Years War and the Great Dublin Explosion of 1597

Mar 20, 2013 22:19


In 1597 Dublin was ripped apart by a massive explosion which killed over 1% of the city’s population. This podcast looks at the background to the incredible events of March 1597. Set to the backdrop of the Nine Years War, when tensions ran high in Dublin as the English Army used the city as a key logistical base, this episode looks at how Dubliners struggled to survive in a world of massacres and war. This podcast also includes the story of Dublins earliest recorded strike!

(1000 -1022) Brian Boru, The Battle of Clontarf and its aftermath

Mar 20, 2013 58:23


Brian Boru is without doubt Ireland’s most well known medieval king, while a battle he fought in 1014, the Battle of Contarf, is Irelands most famous medieval conflict. In this podcast we look at the real story behind Brian and the Battle of Clontarf. How did he become high-king? Was he really the first man to unify Ireland? Why did Vikings from as far away as the Orkney Islands flock to Ireland and assemble on a field in Clontarf, North of Dublin to face down Brian Boru and his allies in 1014? What happened after Brian Boru died?

This podcast also tells the unknown but fascinating story of the wars he waged against the Northern kings between 1002-1011 in his conquest for power in a world of intrigue and betrayal…..

(980 -1000) The Pursuit of Power (Part III): A New Millenium and A New King.

Mar 20, 2013 46:36


Episode 10 sees the emergence of a titantic struggle between the two major players of the late 10th century – the O Neill High King, Maelseachnaill II and Brian Boru, the King of Munster. This war was without question one of the greatest conflicts in early medieval Ireland.

In a story full of intriguing naval attacks, sieges and deceit the superpowers of 10th century Ireland, unleash their devastating military power on each other with fascinating consequences. This episode also takes a look at daily life in Ireland  around 1000 CE recreating the sights and smells while looking at the strange diseases that could kill you if war didnt get you first!

(944 – 980) The Pursuit of Power (part II): The Rise of Brian Boru and the Dál Cais

Mar 20, 2013 56:40


Episode 8 sees medieval Ireland stand of the edge of a precipice. A rootless struggle for control of the O'Neill kingdom breaks out in the North, while in Munster a new comer to the podcast – the Dal Cais challenge the King of Munster for power in the South. While Ireland is on the verge of chaos we look at how these wars imapcted the lives of ordinary people as they also famine, hard winters and an out break of leprosy and dysentery. By the end of the show Medieval Ireland will have changed and Irelands most famous king Brian Boru will have started his rise to power……

(919-944) The Pursuit of Power part 1 The Decline of the O’Neills

Mar 20, 2013 34:18


Episode 6 is the start of one of the great stories of medieval Irish history that wil finish with the rise of Brian Boru. Gripping, ruthless and at times blood curdling this history is full of twists and turns. Over the next three shows we will see the O Neill kingdom, who have dominated the first five episodes, see their power challenged by the Dal Cais (the family of Brian Boru). This will see many challengers rise and fall as these two families battle it out for supremacy in medieval Ireland.

Today we begin with the rule of the O’Neill High King Donnchad Donn who rose to power in 919. His life was intertwined with one of the greatest O’Neill warriors Muircherteach Mac Neill, eulogised on his death as “the hector of the west”. Find out how he earned that name and how Brian Boru’s family, the Dal Cais, fight their way into the story.y

St. Patrick and the Conversion of Ireland

Mar 16, 2013 16:39


Each year on March 17th, millions of people attend St Patrick’s day parades in memory of the man who reputedly converted the Irish to Christianity. He is a figure shrouded in mystery and myth but in this podcast we examine the truth behind the one time slave and famous bishop Patrick. Tune in to hear the real history behind Ireland’s conversion, who St. Patrick really was and how he become associated with snakes and shamrocks….

(902-930) Changing Times in Medieval Ireland

Mar 16, 2013 27:33


In this episode we begin an exciting journey through one of the most turbulent times in Medieval Ireland. The years 902- 930 see Ireland’s most powerful faction – The O Neill kingdom go to war with their traditional enemies – The Eoganacht. After three years of war only one survives creating a power vacuum, which the Vikings fill, starting yet another war! This show looks at a long forgotten but fascinating period in our history and how it profoundly shaped Ireland and the people who lived through these turbulent times.

(820 - 902) Raiding and Trading with the Vikings

Mar 16, 2013 40:56


The early 9th century saw the Vikings step up their raids and attacks on Ireland. Terror gripped coastal communities as vast fleets appeared off the Irish coast, worse was to follow when they began to establish bases called longphorts around the coast. In this podcast we see how the Gaelic Irish began to strike back and the Vikings had to change tactics and form alliances with Gaelic kingdoms. This episode also looks at the rough and ready life in the most famous Viking settlement in Ireland, a rough trading post known as 'An Dubh Linn', The Dark Pool or as we know it today Dublin.

Ireland and the Viking World

Mar 16, 2013 17:01


Episode 3 is a whistle stop tour through the Viking World visiting places from Baghdad to Newfoundland explaining how the Vikings connected these far flung places to Ireland. In this episode we also see the first Africans arrive in Ireland in the 9th century and explains how a coin from Armenia ended up amongst the remains of people massacred by the vikings in rural Ireland in the 10th century!

The Vikings Arrive

Mar 16, 2013 19:42


This shows looks at the arrival of one of the most fearsome and notorious warriors in Irish history – the Vikings. These Scandinavians have been caricatured throughout the centuries as marauding maniacs a somewhat undeserved reputation. However in this episode they don’t exactly cover themselves in glory.

The show will reveal what drove people in Scandinavia to launch what were terrifying raids, how these raiders reached Ireland and then before the episode ends we will join them for their onslaught on Irish monasteries.



Mar 16, 2013 22:21


This episode begins what will be a fascinating journey through the last 1500 years of Irish History looking at some of the most fascinating chapters in the island’s past. While the coming episodes will chart everything from great battles to Viking raids all the way to rebellions we will also stop in the houses, towns and villages to see what daily life was like for our distant and not so distant ancestors.  Did people really only live to 40 in the Middle Ages? Maybe you’ve been puzzled how people survived before email, phones, cars or even proper roads? 

'Barbarians' sets the scene by looking at what life around the year 500. This will take us deep into the day-to-day existence of our predecessors tasting the food and experiencing the horrors of a medieval dentist? Through this show we see the arrival of Christianity to an Ireland that had been a pagan outpost in for centuries.

(Remastered 2016)


What you can expect from the Irish History Podcast

Mar 14, 2010 00:01:44


From Viking raids to mysterious murders in remote comunities, Irish history has inspired some of the greatest stories ever told. This introductory episode gives you a flavour of what you can expect from the Irish History Podcast.

Twitter - @irishhistory

Email - info(at)

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