Life

Radio review: Irish Passport podcast serves up history, culture and politics

Nuala McCann

The Irish Passport podcast Poetry and Pain

I came upon the Irish Passport podcast via a review in a national paper last weekend.

It’s been going since 2017. Sorry for coming late to the party.

Journalist Naomi O’Leary and Tim McInerney, a lecturer in British and Irish cultural history tell the story of Ireland in an intelligent and thoughtful way.

Yes, you have a little plugging for the sponsors – but who wouldn’t want to hear about how Patricia weaves St Brigid’s crosses? Ulster, it seems, favours the three-handed version – perhaps a reference to the Trinity says Patricia.

She uses traditional weaving patterns, following a truly ancient Irish tradition.

The podcast serves up Irish history, culture and politics. It’s about dealing with the past and unsolved crimes.

So Newry woman Anne Morgan takes us back to 1985 when she is on a trip to Paris and meets up with her brother, Seamus Ruddy, who lives there.

They laugh over a meal of frog’s legs, talk all night, he leaves her instructions for the metro and heads to work in the morning – she never sees him again.

Ruddy was in the INLA and was one of the Disappeared.

This is just one of the stories about dealing with the past, about trauma and how it leaches down through the generations.

Naomi O’Leary points out that in Ireland we haven’t begun to deal with the trauma of the civil war, never mind mass immigration, incarceration of women and children in institutions and economic deprivation.

What interests her is how women’s voices are telling the stories now, whether that’s through the Derry Girls or Anna Burns' awarding winning novel Milkman or the television series Rebellion which paints the Easter Rising through the lives of women who lived it.

But for this listener, it was poet and lecturer Gail McConnell who was magnetic.

She reads her poem, Start Out, about Long Kesh, the dirty protests and the hunger strikes after political status was refused.

She says that her father was one of those who “had to impose a government policy which he knew impossible and wrong”.

He was shot and killed outside the family home. It’s a poignant and heart rending poem.

This is a podcast that truly deserves a listen.

 

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