With the countdown to the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising well underway, RTÉ has unveiled RTÉ 1916, an ambitious programme of content and events across television, radio, mobile and online.
Featuring major television drama, a slew of new documentaries, curated on-street events and a number of programmes targeted at the younger audience, RTÉ 1916 will consider the event itself as well as the broader cultural, political and historical complexities of the Rising, and its impact on the decades and century that followed.
Announcing RTÉ 1916, Noel Curran, director-general, RTÉ, said: “1916 is a year of huge emotional and political significance in Irish history. In our approach to covering and commemorating the centenary of 1916, RTÉ is embracing all of its complexity of by planning a range of diverse programming and events – across television, radio, mobile and beyond – where audiences can understand, debate, commemorate, and celebrate. Our coverage will include the many planned events that will commemorate and celebrate, but it is not limited to the Rising itself – it will also look back at the last hundred years in Ireland and look to the decades ahead of us now. It will embrace music, the arts and street events, as well as historical programming. The scale and range of our programming is suitably wide-ranging and ambitious. I believe that in this special commemorative year, this is RTÉ’s role and responsibility. We hope our audiences will join us for a unique series of programmes and events that chart, explain, critique and celebrate a century of Irish life.”
Some of the key highlights of the year-long schedule include “Rebellion”, a five-part serial drama set over three weeks of Easter 1916 which charts the violent birth of modern Ireland and stars Charlie Murphy, Brian Gleeson, Ruth Bradley, Barry Ward and Sarah Greene. Narrated by Liam Neeson, 1916 is a three-part landmark documentary developed by the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame which examines the Easter Rising and the subsequent events that led to the creation of an independent Irish state and, indirectly, the breakup of the British Empire.
Ireland’s Rising will feature broadcasters, Ryan Tubridy and Anne Doyle, actor, Fiona Shaw and football manager, Jim McGuinness as they travel back to their homesteads to discover what particular connection their county has with the events of 1916, and what the people of their county are planning to commemorate it. In Children of the Revolution Joe Duffy uncovers the tragic stories of the 40 children killed during the Easter Rising, while The Enemy Files sees Michael Portillo present a challenging and controversial documentary that will offer a valuable counterview of the events of 1916.
Musician and political activist, Bob Geldof will examine the life and work of WB Yeats in the context of the1916 centenary celebrations in He’s So Modern: Geldof on Yeats, a two-part co-production with BBC, written by Geldof in collaboration with historian and Yeats scholar, Roy Foster, while Christy Moore: Journey sees the legendary musician collaborate with award-winning film-maker Mark McLoughlin for a very personal musical journey through contemporary Irish history revealing a deeply human story of a changing country.
7 Women will tell the story of Easter 1916 through the eyes of seven women, including the rebel leader, Constance Markievicz, the ace sniper, Margaret Skinnider, the battalion commander, Rose McNamara and the civilian eyewitness, Lilly.
In addition, The Rubberbandits’ Guide to 1916 tells the stories, both big and small, famous and obscure, of Irish revolution, through the skewed eye of the Rubberbandits who explore and re-enact (and frequently get wrong) key moments in Irish history. #WHOAMI takes us to the underbelly of the world of 18-34 year-olds in Ireland as it asks seven of the country’s top social media influencers (across Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram) what it means to them to be Irish in 2016.
RTÉ One will also produce a number of special events for broadcast across television, radio, mobile and online over Easter Weekend: As part of the schedule, RTÉ Player will be home to a dedicated 1916 collection featuring documentaries, drama and news coverage throughout the centenary celebrations. National events will be made available live and on-demand through RTÉ Player International, connecting the Irish diaspora to home throughout the year.