Wednesday 16 Apr 2014
The Story Of Ireland is a major new landmark series from BBC Northern Ireland examining the history of Ireland and its impact on the wider world, from the earliest times right up to the present day. This compelling five-part series is written and presented by BBC correspondent Fergal Keane.
Over the course of the programmes Fergal travels across three continents, tracing the events, the people and the influences that shaped modern Ireland.
The Story Of Ireland, beginning on BBC One Northern Ireland on Sunday 20 February at 8pm, takes an outward-looking approach to key developments in Ireland down through the centuries mirrored against events and changes in Europe and the rest of the world and challenges long held myths.
The first programme examines the origins of the idea of the emergence of a 'Celtic' race, the impact of early Christianity and monasticism in Ireland; and the birth of Ireland's potent literary culture.
The Vikings are treated not simply as barbarous marauders, but resourceful settlers, as the Celts were before them, who established Ireland's major towns and placed them at the centre of a vast trading network. Brian Boru is revealed as a man of his time, above all else motivated by the will to power. Far from driving the Vikings out of Ireland he relied on their military skills to achieve his ambitions.
The remaining four programmes span history from the Anglo-Norman invasion, to Cromwell, the Boyne, penal laws and resettlements; on to the economic, intellectual, architectural and cultural rise of Dublin in the 18th century; examining the story of Wolfe Tone and the United Irishmen.
Further afield the series also looks at Ireland's role in the British Empire and closer to home examines the Great Famine and its enormous impact, the role of Daniel O'Connell and then the founding of the IRB and rise of Home Rule; the role of Irishmen in the Boer War; the Easter Rising; the War of Independence and the Civil War and the outbreak of the Troubles.
Finally Ireland's economic boom comes under the spotlight, asking how the country's history, as perceived by the rest of the world, has become big business and questions whether this excludes contrary views with a theme very much placed on an 'old' version of Irish history.
Fergal Keane, writer and presenter, said: "The Story Of Ireland is vivid, exciting and immensely varied. It is far more than the sum of old cliches and myths which set the Irish as a people who were prisoners and victims of history.
"This series sees Ireland as an international island which is both changed by and helps to change the world beyond her shores.
"As a foreign correspondent who has travelled on every continent I have tried to bring my experience of the wider world to this story of Ireland and I have tried to see our past with a clear eye and an open heart."
Mike Connolly, Series Producer, added: "It's both a privilege and a challenge to produce the first comprehensive television history of Ireland since Robert Kee's acclaimed series of 1981.
"Ireland has opened out in dramatic ways in the intervening 30 years and has achieved a profile on the international stage that could hardly have been imagined back then. It is this changed perception of Ireland, both in the minds of the Irish themselves and in the eyes of the rest of the world, that we address in The Story Of Ireland."
The Story Of Ireland is a BBC Northern Ireland series with co-funding from RTE, beginning on BBC One Northern Ireland on Sunday 20 February 20 at 8pm.