Podcast Review: Revolutionary Ireland

Revolutionary Ireland is a podcast about the history of Irish independence movements. The host is Lorcan Collins who is the founder of the 1916 Walking Tour in Dublin and author of four books about Irish history. Collins talks about revolutionary movements from 1798 to 1981. A couple include the the Easter Rising in 1916 and the Irish War of Independence that was from 1919-1921. Along with descriptions of these significant events, he examines the lives of important leaders of these movements. Collins is wealth of knowledge on Irish history and it is amazing to listen to the facts that he recites off the top of his head.

Collins begins the podcast with a brief history of Ireland, talking about the reasons that the Irish rebelled against English rule. Besides being occupied by a foreign nation, revolutions were also the result of the Penal Laws and the Irish Potato Famine. The Penal Laws prevented Catholics from voting, holding office, owning land, and even practicing their religion. The Potato Famine occurred in 1845 with the failure of the potato crop throughout Ireland. Foods that could have been consumed in its place, such as livestock, peas, and beans, were exported out of Ireland by the English government. The result was the death of approximately one million Irish due to starvation and disease. Around one million Irish emigrated to countries such as the United States to flee the famine.  These acts of brutality and cruelty by the English government led to revolutionary groups being created. Some of them were the United Irishman, the Fenian Brotherhood, and the Irish Republican Brotherhood.  Collins does an excellent job of explaining these infamous occurrences in Irish history and why insurrections resulted from them.

A significant event in Irish history that Collins talks a lot about is the Easter Rising. This occurred in Dublin between April 24 and April 29 in 1916. Alongside a full episode focused on the rebellion, he dedicates certain episodes to leaders of the rising, and the Easter Rising Proclamation which announced the creation of the Irish Republic. Collins walks you through the action that occurred on each day and provides tons of background information to key players of the Easter Rising. Interestingly, there was not a lot of initial public support for the uprising. It only swelled for the Irish revolutionaries following the execution of fifteen leaders of the revolt and atrocities committed by English forces during the Easter Rising. Collins illustrates how this laid the groundwork for the War of Independence in 1919.

Collins talks about The Irish War of Independence in several episodes of Revolutionary Ireland. The war was from 1919 to 1921 and unlike the Easter Rising, it was fought throughout the country. The majority of the Irish were in support of the independence movement. Those who did not fight in the war provided shelter to combatants and spied on English forces. Episodes focus on specific events that occurred during the war that include the Battle of Kilmichael, the Burning of the Custom House, and Bloody Sunday. He provides biographies of individuals and groups of people on both sides such as Kevin Barry, Terence MacSwiney and even the infamous Black and Tans. Through his vivid descriptions, he puts on a microscopic view of events and people during this war. You will be amazed by the facts and stories that he describes.

Revolutionary Ireland is a valuable educational resource on Irish history. Along with revolutionary periods, Collins talks about key events for the country such as the Irish Potato Famine and life in Ireland under the Penal Laws. He is passionate about what he is talking about and his energy maintains your attention. He also has a good sense of humor that adds comic relief to darker topics. For Women’s History Month, you may be interested in listening to the episode called Women of the Revolution which is about the instrumental role women played in the fight for Irish freedom. I highly recommend Revolutionary Ireland to those who want an in-depth understanding of Irish history.

The Revolutionary Ireland can be heard on the 1916 Walking Tour website or apps such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

To learn more about Irish history, take a look at the YPL curated book list. These can be placed on hold and picked up at any branch of YPL. 



Mike Walsh

Adult Services-Will Branch