News and Views

Landmark Documentary on The Irish Civil War airs on RTÉ This December

29 Nov 2022

Narrated by Brendan Gleeson, produced by RTÉ Cork in partnership with University College Cork as part of the Decade of Centenary commemorations and based on UCC’s “mammoth and magnificent Atlas of the Irish Revolution, three-part documentary series THE IRISH CIVIL WAR tells the epic and often challenging story of the origins, conflict and legacy of the civil war that took place in Ireland in 1922 and 1923.  

Broadcast across three consecutive nights (Dec 11/12/13th), the documentary series features extensive archive film footage, photographs and materials, interviews with leading academics, archive interviews with contemporary participants and witnesses, first hand witness accounts read by actors - including Peter Coonan, Tim Creed, Marty Rea and Olga Wehrly - detailed and dynamic graphic maps based on those featured in the Atlas of the Irish Revolution, and stunning cinematography of the very locations where events took place.  

BRENDAN GLEESON, Narrator, said:  

“With the 100th anniversary of the Irish Civil War upon us we have to start talking about what happened. It's uncomfortable because we don't like to see ourselves in a savage light but everybody has savagery in them and we have to address it because it's never that far away from the surface. When we were in school, weweren't taught about it because it was still extraordinarily raw and extraordinarily inflammatory even now, I find myself being infuriated on both sides. These documentaries have gone to great lengths to try to present all sides of the story with equal emphasis.”   

COLM CROWLEY, Head of RTÉ Cork, said:  

“This partnership between RTÉ and University College Cork has so far delivered three hugely impactful series; 'The Irish Revolution', 'The Hunger' and now 'The Irish Civil War’ - all are examples of powerful and important public service broadcasting. These documentaries have found huge audiences not just in Ireland, but in the USA and in Europe, across the ARTE network, with over five million tuning in to watch 'The Hunger' (the story of the Irish Famine) last December across Germany and France. We believe this new series will deliver real insights into a critical part of Irish history.”  

JOHN FITZGERALD, UCC, said:  

“The Irish Civil War draws on the ground-breaking academic research of the award-winning Cork University Press Atlas of the Irish Revolution, adopting a new perspective on arguably Ireland’s most pivotal historical period. Over three episodes, the series re-examines the causes and the terrible events of the Civil War, using leading experts and adopting the perspective of the ordinary person, to ask: Why did this war happen? Who did it really impact? What is its legacy?”  

RUÁN MAGAN, Writer and Director, said: 

“The Irish Civil War has always been the elephant in the room when it came to the Irish Revolution, an inconvenient series of events that tainted Ireland’s origin story, its details often skipped over or ignored. Perhaps now a century on it is time to face what happened. Our whole team has been so proud to have the opportunity to tell this complex story in partnership with RTÉ and UCC. 

The civil war is among the most controversial chapters in Irish history and has been a rarely told tale. Even today, tensions can run high at its mention. The Split, the Four Courts, Beal na mBláth and Ballyseedy will ring bells for many. Few however will know the intricate details of what led to the war, how the war played out across the country, nor will have heard the often-tragic personal stories of those involved.   

The series goes to the heart of this history, telling it straight, teasing out the nuances and complexities, generating unprejudiced, compelling and challenging documentaries that may serve as a suitable commemoration of those troubled years. The original soundtrack is composed by Natasa Paulberg and was recorded live by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.  

THE IRISH CIVIL WAR continues the documentary strand produced by RTÉ in partnership with UCC that includes The Irish Revolution narrated by Cillian Murphy and The Hunger narrated by Liam Neeson. It will air on 11th, 12th and 13th December at 21.35 on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player.  

THE IRISH CIVIL WAR is a Tyrone Productions / Create One Production for RTÉ Cork and was produced in collaboration with UCC with the support incentives for the Irish Film Industry provided by the Government of Ireland.  

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF

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