For Irish-American Heritage Month, I decided to review the Irish History Show podcast. This podcast is hosted by Cathal Brennan and John Dorney, both scholars of Irish history. The hosts interview authors who have written books about events and movements throughout Ireland’s history. These include the Easter Rising, the War of Independence, the Irish Civil War, and many more. The podcast began in 2015 and continues to this day, so a large number of topics have been discussed. For those interested in learning about their Irish roots, the Irish History Show is a great place to start.
The episode that I recently listened to is called Irish Revolutionary Women. It was created to help celebrate Women’s History Month. Cathal interviews authors Dr. Mary McAuliffe and Liz Gillis. Both have written books about Irish women revolutionaries and contributed to documentaries about them. In this episode, they talk about the important role that women played in the Easter Rising in 1916 and the War of Independence. Women gathered intelligence, concealed weapons, and fought in engagements during these conflicts. I learned about the important role revolutionary women played in making women’s suffrage a part of the newly formed government in 1922. The part women played in these movements is sometimes overlooked, so this was a especially informative and interesting episode to listen to.
Other episodes that I listened to cover events during the Irish War of Independence, including Bloody Sunday and the Kilmichael Ambush. Author Michael Foley talks about his book The Bloodied Field, which is about an event known as Bloody Sunday, when 14 civilians were murdered during an Irish football match by English soldiers. Foley has such mastery of the topic that he breaks down the event almost minute by minute. He provides context to the massacre and its repercussions. Foley kept me engaged throughout the episode with his stories about the event and the vast background information that he provided.
The hosts, Cathal Brennan and John Dorney, talk about the Kilmichael Ambush among themselves during an episode. You can tell that they are experts on this attack by the amount of detail that provide. They talk about the controversy surrounding the attack, where British Auxiliaries were rumored to have faked a surrender in order to ambush IRA fighters. Based on his research, Dorney provides his opinion about this, and his analysis of this aspect of the ambush is convincing. They additionally talk about the man who orchestrated the attack, Tom Barry. They analyze his version of the attack and scholarship that has been written about him. I found the stories about both Kilmichael and Barry to be fascinating.
Those who are interested in history and especially Irish history will enjoy this podcast. The hosts and authors interviewed are all experts on an aspect of Irish history. In some cases, the authors interviewed have written numerous books about their specialty of Irish history. Though there is a lot of information presented, episodes of the podcast are not dense with facts. Interesting anecdotes and stories are told that lead to a greater understanding of a topic. The Irish History Show is an educational and interesting podcast that I recommend.