The Book of Irish Writers
Monday - Friday
6.55 - 7.00pm
They were rogues, adventurers, idealists, romantics, shrinking violets, ego maniacs ... and all the other wonders and failures of human nature besides. The men and women of established Irish Literature were once living, breathing people and the new BBC Radio Ulster series 'The Book of Irish Writers' releases them from their dust jackets and brings them to life!
In this chronological series of easily digestible short programmes - which starts on BBC Radio Ulster on Monday, April 6 at 6.55pm - we learn that:
Samuel Beckett was a member of the French Resistance during WW2
Jonathan Swift was declared of 'unsound mind'
Echoes of early Irish myths re-appear in the Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table
Sean O'Casey was driven to stealing books
Oliver Goldsmith was an inveterate gambler
The old Gaelic aristocracy employed professional poets to write elegies tracing their masters' royal lineage back to Adam!
St. Patrick wrote the first Irish autobiography
The Book Of Irish Writers series begins with the earliest pre-Christian Irish tales; stories that were told by the fire, in the woods and under the stars - wherever people gathered and wanted to make sense of their world.
With the arrival of Christianity and the Roman alphabet, these spoken stories were written down for the first time - and so we learn that the earliest settlers in Ireland came from Egypt (where they were in bondage with the people of Israel), that Fionn Mac Cumhaill was a champion womaniser and that Cúchulainn killed his own brother in battle.
The echoes of these early tales then chime in the work of later Irish Writers such as WB Yeats, JM Synge and James Joyce to name a few - in fact, Fionn Mac Cumhaill is the bedrock of Joyce's 'Finnegan's Wake'.
The Book of Irish Writers is narrated by Cherrie McIlwaine and John Toal.
The writer is Dr Eamonn Hughes - Senior Lecturer in the School of English and Assistant Director of the Institute of Irish Studies at Queen's University in Belfast.
The Book Of Irish Writers, BBC Radio Ulster, Mondays-Fridays at 6.55pm. 92-95FM & DAB digital radio, digital TV and online at bbc.co.uk/radioulster