After having covered Irish politics and culture for so many years, it is a real pleasure for me to produce and present this new podcast for Centre for Irish Studies at Aarhus University in Denmark. ‘Reimagining Ireland’ is a podcast which brings events and research from the Centre for Irish Studies into a wider transnational community. The series is available in both a Danish and an English version.
Episode 1 presents Lance Pettitt, associate lecturer in English and Film at Birkbick, University of London. On March 6, Pettitt visited Aarhus University to talk about ‘A Terrible Beauty Televised: Screening 1916’, and how the impact of social and cultural change shapes production and reception in film. The talk was given in conjunction with the BA course ‘Pluck of the Irish – A politico-cultural history from independence to Brexit’ offered by the English degree programme at AU.
01 – How do we commemorate the past? The continuing politico-cultural impact of the 1916 Easter Rising
Lance Pettitt, has done extensive research on how the Easter Rising was commemorated by the Irish national broadcaster RTÈ in 1966. In this episode, Pettitt discusses why it is worth taking a closer look at how a nation chooses to commemorate significant, historical events at different distances. In what is officially called a ‘decade of centenaries’ 2012-2022, Ireland is commemorating events that led to political independence from Britain a hundred years ago, but also to civil war and the partition of Ireland. The centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising took place in 2016, the same year the UK voted to leave the European Union and in this podcast Lance Pettitt also discusses the relevance of historical events for contemporary politics.
This second episode of ‘Reimagining Ireland’ builds on a visit to Aarhus by documentary film maker Donal Foreman. On April 23-24 his film ‘The Image you Missed’ was screened as part of a workshop and talk, in co-operation with DocLounge, Centre for Irish Studies and the research programme ‘Uses of the Past’. The workshop focused on the role of images in dealing with conflict in Northern Ireland and it was a unique opportunity to discuss how we may use found footage and archival images to explore transnational, intergenerational memories of conflict and struggle.
Episode 2 How are political conflicts portrayed in documentaries? Father and son offer different perspectives.For over 30 years, Arthur MacCaig, documented the Northern Irish conflict. Meanwhile, his son Donal Foreman grew up in Dublin. After MacCaig’s death, the idea for the documentary film “The Image You Missed” began to be formed, weaving together the story of a son’s attempt to get to know his late father, with the history of the conflict in Northern Ireland. The respective recordings of Father and son show two very different approaches to Irish nationalism, the role of images in a political struggle, and the competing claims of personal and political responsibility of film makers. In this way, an exciting cinematic exploration of how documentary film director position themselves in relation to political conflict emerge: Which stories do you tell about the conflict – and which stories do you avoid telling? In this podcast, these are the issues, which documentary maker Donal Foreman explore.
Episode 3 presents Katherine O’Donnell, who is associate professor of philosophy at University College Dublin. On March 14, O’Donnell was a guest lecturer at Aarhus University as part of the ‘Engaging Conflict and Culture’ course on the MA programme in Intercultural Studies. Her contribution to the course was to discuss the ethics of intervention and how academics can become activists, as well as exploring the Magdalene Laundries as a specific case of transitional justice.
In 2013 the Irish government issued a formal apology to the thousands of women who had been abused by the religious orders at the Magdalene Laundries. In this episode, Katherine O’Donnell discusses why – and how – the Catholic Church succeeded in making a fortune on systematic exploitation of vulnerable women, without public and official interference. Katherine O’Donnell is the principal investigator of the Magdalene Oral History Project and in this podcast, she talks about her work with the Magdalenes in recognizing what they were put through and transforming political and national responsibility.