RTÉ’s Easter Rising centenary focus to include ordinary people
RTÉ’s commemorative programmes to involve ‘framing the future’, says DG
British soldiers snipe from behind a barricade of empty beer casks near Dublin’s quays during the Easter Rising in 1916. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
RTÉ’s programme for the 1916 centenary was launched in Dublin last night with the station pledging to “embrace all of the complexity” of the Easter Rising with storytelling of the key events and protagonists as well as the ordinary people caught up in the violence.
Director general Noel Curran said the station’s approach to commemorating 1916 would involve “framing the future” as well as “taking stock” of what has been achieved over the past 100 years, and examining aspects of the proclamation that remain unfulfilled.
“RTÉ wants to engage by telling the stories of the key events and protagonists but also of the ordinary families, children, soldiers and the broader cultural context of the time,” he said.
In that context, RTÉ One is running a one-off documentary called Ready for Revolution? Presented by National Archives head of special projects Catriona Crowe, it will provide a snapshot of Ireland in the first few months of 1916. Seeking to create a picture of “what ordinary lives were like”, it will examine the impact of the Rising on the lives of the vast majority of people who had no hand in the revolution.
Mr Curran said perspectives on the Rising were “constantly changing”, with global and national events – and particularly the violence associated with the Troubles – “complicating perceptions of nationalism”, and views of the Rising.
A three-part series on RTÉ One called 1916, narrated by Liam Neeson, will seek to place the Rising “in its European and global contexts” as anti-colonialism found its voice in the wake of the first World War. It will also explore the role of the United States and of Irish America in both the lead-up to and the aftermath of events in Dublin and elsewhere.
A one-off show on RTÉ Two with the working title 1916 Children will document how eight children spent 24 hours as their ancestors would have in 1916. Stripped of all modern trappings, they undertook 10 challenges typical for a 1916 child. The show will seek to “reconnect today’s children with the reality of the past”.
Another one-off special, Children of the Revolution, will be presented by Joe Duffy, who will tell the stories of the 38 children killed during the Rising, who were aged from two to 16. The programme will “retrace and respect their lives and deaths”.
On Easter weekend, The Rising on 2fm will cover events “as if the events of Easter 1916 are happening live in 2016”. All shows, news and social media channels “will have the urgency and drama of the moment”, and the station will delve into the National Archives for famous and not-so-famous recollections to retell them for younger audiences.
Mr Curran added that the programmes would be available across television, radio, and mobile so audiences could “engage with, understand, commemorate and celebrate 1916”.