Podcast Review: Irish History Podcast

The Irish History Podcast examines significant events in Irish history from the Norman Invasion to the War of Independence. The host is Fin Dwyer who is an archaeologist and a historian. Episodes are meticulously researched and writings from people that lived during various time periods are quoted during them. In total, there are over 300 episodes. So far, I have learned about the Irish Civil War, the Spike Island prison, and the Great Famine. There are lots of interesting facts and stories told in each episode. The Irish History Podcast is an excellent choice to learn about Irish history.

The latest episode of the podcast is about the assassination of British Field Marshall Henry Wilson. Wilson was a field marshal during World War One. His political activism to keep Ireland part of the United Kingdom made him a target of the IRA and he was assassinated in 1922. There continues to be a mystery of who ordered the attack being that Irish War of Independence ended in 1921 and a treaty was signed that established the Irish Free State. It was believed that anti-treaty forces killed Wilson and political pressure on the Irish Free State by England helped ignite the Irish Civil War. However, Fin Dwyer, the host of the podcast, suggests that there is evidence that the assassination was ordered by Michael Collins which would have been a shocking revelation due to his essential role in the peace process. It is impossible to know if he was involved because Collins himself was killed also in 1922. It is interesting to hear the theories surrounding Field Marshall Henry Wilson’s assassination and to learn about the history of that time period.

In an episode titled Ireland’s Alcatraz- the Story of Spike Island, you learn about Ireland’s notorious prison Spike Island. Interestingly, the island was originally the setting of a monastery. Due to it’s strategic location in Cork harbor, a fort was built there. Though it is believed that Oliver Cromwell housed prisoners there during his conquest of Ireland, this is challenged by Dwyer and his guest Tom O’Neill. Over time, Spike Island was built into a prison and people arrested during the Great Famine were held there. Many of the prisoners were arrested for petty crimes which were committed as a result of the extreme poverty during this time period. Later in history, the prison was used by British forces to house IRA members during the War of Independence. I never heard of Spike Island before listening to this podcast and I was fascinated in hearing about its notorious history.

There are a few episodes that are about the Great Famine that took place in Ireland between 1845-1852. One of the episodes examines if the famine was an intentional genocide by the English government. There are some that believe that it was but Dwyer believes it is not that simple. This is in part because some of the wealthy landowners that could have assisted people were in fact Irish. He talks about how the English government was irresponsible and careless with their policies towards the Irish but it is tough to judge if their actions were genocidal. This is a complicated question, which Dwyer does a good job of analyzing.

The Irish History Podcast is educational and interesting. Dwyer does a thorough job of researching topics before each podcast episode. Works of historical figures are frequently quoted by him. This is what makes the episodes similar to academic history lectures. From this podcast, you will gain a good understanding of Irish history.

You can listen to The Irish History Podcast  online or through apps such Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, and more.

Michael Walsh

Adult Services-Will Branch