Tag Archives: RTÉ

Patrick Kavanagh: London Poet?

000651cf-1500I’ve never ranked Patrick Kavanagh’s poetry very highly, ‘The Great Hunger’ aside. If I had to generate a fancy reason for why, rather than the simplistic sounding, ‘I don’t like this,’ it would be my consciousness of his biography, as I find him far more engaging as a representative of his era, than as a poet.

If you’ve never read Pat Walsh’s book Patrick Kavanagh and the Leader, for example, do, it gives a thorough account of future Taoiseach John A. Costello’s intensive cross-examination of the poet when he sued the Dublin publication, The Leader, for libelling him. The courtroom drama is begging to be adapted from the page after page of snappy, witty dialogue, with the poet and future Taoiseach arguing over where the irony in a particular line in Shelley resides. Yes, really, they debate this at length. Kavanagh gives as good as he gets I think, and it’s no wonder there were queues outside the courts for the days and days that the trial ran on for.

Notions of Ireland’s cultural stagnancy in the forties and fifties are being rolled back at this point, but there is something bleak that persists about Kavanagh’s generation, himself and Flann O’Brien sitting in Dublin pubs rife with backbiters and destined for varying shades of obscurity and penury.

The RTÉ documentary below complicates the picture we have of Kavanagh quite a bit, giving a detailed account of the years he spent in London, enmeshed in its cultural and artistic scene, which all seems quite a bit more vital and indeed, enjoyable for Kavanagh than his years spent in Dublin. There is a suggestion in the documentary that there are those who prefer Kavanagh in his current state, as a peasant, Dublin-canal poet, but whatever side you fall on interpretively, I think the consciousness of Kavanagh as more metropolitan than most people are aware, can only ameliorate, rather than diminish his reputation.

Listen also for Flann O’Brien’s advice for what to do if an author you’ve never read comes up in conversation.

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/2015/0107/670862-fleeting-city-the-london-years-of-patrick-kavanagh/

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The Irish Woman Who Shot Mussolini

Only recently heard about Violet Gibson, an upper-middle class anti-fascist who tried to shoot Il Duce after he had taken power. This radio documentary gives interesting details on the broader European complicity in his taking power, including Ireland.

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/2014/0612/647669-documentary-irishwoman-shot-mussolini-violet-gibson/

Lucia Joyce Radio Documentary

Plenty I wasn’t aware of regarding Lucia Joyce’s life laid out in this documentary. Lucia’s involvement  in bohemian Paris, how her psychosis may have been barbiturate withdrawal, and how Joyce was her primary advocate for Lucia’s welfare in the family. Lucia’s strained relationship with Nora and Giorgio meant she was to become isolated after his death in 1939.

Has a nice reading from Finnegans Wake also, but not, sadly, her novel, which was destroyed, and I mourn for.

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/2013/0604/647434-radio-documentary-podcast-lucia-james-joyce-bloomsday/

Roger Casement RTÉ Documentary

There was always a Roger Casement-shaped hole in my understanding of modern Irish history, I had never really grasped his significance, or knew why he was cited so often in the decade of centenaries when he wasn’t a signatory of the Proclamation, but this documentary helped me get up to speed, outlining the time he spent in the Congo, and how he may have served to influence Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness.

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/2016/0318/775719-roger-casements-apocalypse-now-africa-1916/

Elizabeth Bowen RTÉ Documentary

Really, really entertaining and informative documentary about the novelist Elizabeth Bowen, what Virginia Woolf made of Bowen’s gaff and Bowen’s extra-marital affairs. Most worth it, I think, for the details given of Bowen’s spying for the English. Her accounts of key Irish figures of the time are less bureaucratic and informative than one might expect; they more closely resemble the forensic character sketches that one encounters in her fiction.

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/2015/1030/738444-the-brits-the-blitz-and-the-bedwarmer/

RTÉ Lady Gregory Documentary

Good RTÉ Documentary about how Lady Gregory became one of the central figures in the literati of early twentieth-century Dublin.

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/2013/0826/647502-documentary-podcast-lady-gregory-tree-coole-irish-literary-revival/

RTÉ Radio Documentary on UCD radicalism

Radio documentary on the Irish answer to les événements; the student protests in UCD in 1968. Featuring current members of the Irish political establishment meditating on their subsequent renunciation of radical socialism and the movement’s relationship (or lack thereof) to the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland.

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/2009/0528/645992-gentle_it_was/