Irish Roots

August 15th, 2011

John Grenham


Over the past few months, I've been involved in filming a new TV programme for RTE. It's called "The Genealogy Roadshow" and is a thoroughbred of sorts, sired by "The Antiques Roadshow" out of "Who Do You Think You Are?" Filmed at a different scenic location very week - Adare Manor, Carton House, Glenlo Abbey and Slane Castle so far - its basis is a walk-in event that gives members of the public advice on genealogy. That is then combined with a series of pre-researched stories revealing individuals' links to historic events such as 1798 or 1916, or to well-known historical characters. Thankfully, there is not a celebrity in sight.

My job, along with fellow experts Turtle Bunbury and Nicola Morris, is to make sense of the individual stories and present the outcome of the research during the live events. The learning curve is extremely steep. Making a complex family history intelligible over the course of five or six minutes takes quite a bit of hard work, like the duck paddling furiously under the water in order to stay in one spot on the surface. I learnt to dread the words "That was great", because they were always followed by "Can you do it again?". Followed in turn by "That was even better, darling. Can you do it again?" I also learnt how difficult it is to remove makeup, and how to throw tantrums to make sure fellow presenters' trailers weren't bigger than mine.

Our co-presenter and general cheerer-upper is Derek Mooney. At one point during filming he told us we were going to be swamped by the public response to the programme. Three jaws dropped as one. The first episode is broadcast on RTE 1 next Sunday, August 21st, (click here for more) at 6.30 and comes from Adare Manor. I'll be at home behind the sofa.


Comments and suggestions are welcome, to irishrootsatirishtimes.com.


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