Irish History Podcast

Irish History Podcast

From the Norman Invasion to the War of Independence, the Irish History Podcast brings you on a journey through the most fascinating stories in Ireland's past. Whether it’s the siege of Dublin in 1171 or gun battles in the 1920s, the podcast vividly recreates a sense of time and place. Each episode is meticulously researched creating character driven narratives that are engaging and accessible for all. Since the first episode was released back in 2010, the podcast has covered scores of fascinating stories. Major multipart series have covered the Great Hunger, the Norman Invasion and Irish involvement in the Spanish Civil War. If you are looking for stand alone shows there are also hundreds of podcasts covering topics from medieval sex magic to Irish connections in the Jack the Ripper murders! Why not start with 'A Very Irish Murder in Cincinnati' an episode from February 2019. Its an enthralling story - you wont be disappointed! Become a member at Hosted on Acast. See for more information.


March 22, 2023 32 min

In 1895 Bridget Cleary was a confident independent woman in a rapidly changing Ireland. This brought her into conflict with dark and sinister figures in her own community. 

After being labelled a 'changeling' (a fairy who had taken the place of the real person) Bridget was tortured in a brutal ritual. This podcast, based in an original episode released in 2016, explores Cleary's life and why those closest to her ultimately ...

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Until 1981 a woman was considered the property of her husband under Irish law. A husband could even sue another man for damaging his property if he had an affair with his wife. Referred to as 'criminal conversation’ these trials were demeaning and humiliating for the women involved. 'Women on trial looks' looks at the story of Alice Morton.

When her marriage fell apart in 1919, she found herself at the centre of a sensational d...

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On June 22nd 1922, the British Field Marshall, Henry Wilson was shot dead in London. The assassination sparked a major political crisis in Ireland. The British government blamed the killing on a faction of the IRA opposed to the recent Anglo-Irish Treaty. When they demanded action be taken against them, Michael Collins oversaw an attack on an IRA unit occupying the Four Courts in Dublin. This sparked the Irish Civil War.

Over th...

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Spike Island in Cork Harbour is often referred to as 'Ireland’s Alcatraz'. While this famous island prison began life as a monastery it was transformed into a fortress during the American Revolutionary War. However Spike island gained it's notorious reputation during the Great Hunger of the 1840s when a prison was opened in the fort.

This episode recorded on Spike island tells the story of Ireland’s Alcatraz…

I would like to...

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February 14, 2023 32 min

Between 1840 and 1860 the population of New York almost trebled growing from 300,000 to 800,000. This influx of migrants from Europe gave birth to modern Manhattan. At the heart of this story were the 250,000 Irish people who made the city their home in the aftermath of the Great Hunger. 

This is the story of the Famine Irish in New York.

In this episode I interview Dr Tyler Anbinder from George Washington University. An exp...

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Five days after the end of the Second World War, Winston Churchill launched into a blistering critique of Irish neutrality on the BBC World Service. He would famously claim the government of Éamon de Valera had frolicked with German representatives in Dublin while Britain fought the Nazis. 

The reality of Irish neutrality in the World War II was somewhat more complicated. To discuss the story of Irish neutrality I am joined...

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This episode continues the story of emigration and Irish Coffin Ships during the Great Famine. Dr Cian T. McMahon, the author of The Coffin Ship - Life and Death at Sea during the Great Famine discusses

  • The death rate onboard coffin ships
  • What factors determined whether someone lived or died.
  • How Irish Famine emigrants adjusted to life in the U.S.

You can get a copy of The Coffin Ship - Life and Death at Sea here

If you want...

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January 17, 2023 28 min

Between 1845 - 1855 over two million people left Ireland to escape hunger, poverty and disease during the Great Hunger. The experience of these emigrants was often harrowing. The term Coffin Ship has became synonymous with their journeys across the Atlantic. 

While the term conveys misery, what was the experience actually like?

In the first of two podcasts on the subject, I am joined by Dr Cian T. McMahon author of The C...

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December 18, 2022 23 min

Are we living through historic times? The Russian Invasion of Ukraine, the Queen's death, Liz Truss and Elon Musk have all dominated the headlines in 2022. However headlines don't always make history. Will the events of our lifetime be remembered in the future?

In this episode I look at how the last twelve months might be remembered by future historians.

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Life in Dublin at the turn of the 20th century was difficult to say the least. Working Class Dubliners were lucky if they reached 50. In those five or so decades, they worked dangerous jobs and lived in appalling conditions.

In this episode I am joined by Dr Ciara Breathnach. Ciara has spent several years researching the records of Dublin's Coroners Court for her book 'Ordinary Lives, Death, and Social Class: Dublin City Corone...

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November 22, 2022 26 min

Castlekevin was once a thriving settlement deep in the Wicklow Mountains. However in the 14th century after decades of warfare the historical record fell silent. 

Over the past year the Roundwood & District Historical & Folklore Society have been working with a team of archaeologists to uncover the story of this lost town and castle. Using ground penetrating radar, drones and ecological surveys the team have started to ...

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November 8, 2022 12 min

The Black Death changed Europe and Ireland forever. This disease which swept across the continent through 1348 carried off around 40% of the population. Its aftermath was no less sensational as social upheavel, wars and revolts broke out across Europe. Ireland was no different, indeed it was arguably affected in more profound ways than most of the continent.

Over last few months I have produced a new hour three hour audio featu...

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November 2, 2022 29 min

Believe it or not, it was a crime to sell contraception in Ireland between 1935 and 1979. The Irish government also banned all literature on family planning for decades as well. This had a profound impact on life in Ireland. Couples couldn't plan families or engage in recreational sex without fear of pregnancy. This devastated relationships and left many people with a very limited understanding of sex and pregnancy. 

In thi...

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October 25, 2022 27 min

While Ireland remained neutral in the Second World War several Nazi agents were smuggled into the country. Their aims varied, some sought to establish contact with the IRA while others were spies.

In this episode, I interview historian Marc McMenamin about the attempts of Irish Military Intelligence's to catch these spies and agents.

Marc also explains the attitude of the IRA towards these individuals & the forgotten Ir...

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There is a photo essay to accompany this episode here 

Conwy castle in Wales in one of Europe's most spectacular medieval castles. Built in the 1280s by Edward I the castle has withstood sieges and the ravages of time. On Sat October 8th I organised a supporters trip to the castle. Early the following morning, as the sun rose over the medieval town I recorded this episode. Using the acoustics of the cas...

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In this final episode of Ireland's Last Aristocrat, you will hear how Olive Packenham Mahon adjusted to life in Ireland after the War of Independence. This follows her story through the chaotic early days of the Irish Free State, her futile attempts to budget as money ran out and how she would end up an eccentric living in a mansion that crumbled around her. 

There will be a bonus episode of recordings from Strokestown Park...

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Olive's unpublished diary and letters reveal a story of war, revolution and scandalous relationships in Ireland during the War of Independence.

After being raised in splendour with servants taking care of her every need (see part I), this episode follows Olive Packenham Mahon through the Irish revolutionary era. After the outbreak of World War I everything changed. 

The Packenham Mahons and other aristocrats found themse...

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Olive Packenham Mahon was born into wealth and privilege in 1894, but the legacy of a secret funeral and the spectre of war and revolution defined her life. 

She was no ordinary aristocrat - Olive was the last of her kind...

A special thanks to Oisin O'Driscoll, Martin Fagan & Tony Aspel and all the team at Strokestown Park House for their time.

Olive Packenham Mahon's home Strokestown Park House is open to the public...

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Olive Pakenham Mahon was one of Ireland's last Aristocrats. Haunted by a secret funeral in her families past, revolution and war defined her life. She was anything but normal...

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You may not recognise the name Bridget O’Donnel, but she is one of the most recognisable women in Irish history. In December 1849 her image (pictured in the episode artwork and here) appeared in The Illustrated London News. Over the following decades she became the face of the Great Famine. Today she is one of the most recognisable women in Irish history, but who was Bridget O’Donnel?

Is it possible she never existed but was the cre...

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