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A Terrible Beauty : Culture And Revolution In Ireland

Declan Kibred

RTÉ One | Tuesday 15th March | 10.15pm

A Terrible Beauty, Professor Declan Kiberd looks at the role that artists and writers had in reinventing Ireland in the late Nineteenth Century – and asks whether the Celtic Revival really was the spark that ignited the revolutionary flame.
Built around carefully-selected key works from the Celtic Revival period, the documentary looks at how a small number of writers, thinkers and activists dreamed up not one, but many, visions for a new, independent Ireland; and examines how those visions would shape the Ireland that was to emerge – and inspire some to take action.

Reflecting in his latter years about his play, Kathleen Ni Houlihan, the poet W. B. Yeats wrote:

Did that play of mine send out
Certain men the English shot?

The play, first performed in 1902, and starring Maud Gonne as Kathleen, an old woman whose “beautiful green fields” had been taken away from her by a wicked stranger, had enflamed nationalist sentiment. Many of the more militant elements of Irish nationalism lauded it as a key turning-point in the move towards a military strike; but others had concerns about its message.

One critic asked whether,

…Such plays should be produced unless one was prepared for people to go out to shoot and be shot.

Declan Kiberd, and a host of historians and experts, ask the question: did the cultural revival really spark the rebellion of 1916?



Abbey Theatre, An Garda Siochana, Association of Professional Genealogists Ireland, Band of An Garda Siochana, Buswells Hotel, Capuchin Friary, Century Ireland, Cobblestone, Conradh na Gaeilge, Dubray Books Grafton Street, Dublin Fire Brigade Pipe Band, Dublin Institute of Technology, Eason’s O’Connell Street, Gallery of Photography. Garda Historical Society, Generator Hostel, Glasnevin Trust, Grafton Barbers, Hodges Figgis Dawson Street, Irish Film Archive, Irish Veteran & Vintage Car Club. John Shevlin Millinery, Little Museum of Dublin, Louis Copeland & Sons, Manning's Bakery, Massey Funeral Directors, Maynooth University, Merrion Square Artists Association, National College of Art and Design, National Library of Ireland, National Museum at Collins Barracks, National Transport Museum of Ireland, NUI Galway, Poetry Ireland, Queen's University Belfast, Royal College of Physicians in Ireland, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association, Royal Hibernian Academy, St Michan's Church of Ireland Parish, St Michan's Roman Catholic Parish, St Vincent de Paul, SIPTU, The Four Courts, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, University College Dublin, University of Limerick, University of Ulster, Whyte’s Irish Art & Collectables, National Print Museum, Irish Guild of Weavers Spinners & Dyers, ICA, Feltmakers Ireland, Irish Woodturners Guild, Doran Barber Shop The Pram Doctor, The Merrion Square Artists Association, The Dice Bar, Third Space, The Family Resource Centre St. Michael’s Estate, Brown Bag Films, The Stoneybatter and Smithfield People’s History Project, The Revenue Museum,

RTÉ would like to gratefully acknowledge the support and participation of the individual speakers who were kind enough to share their research and private collections with the public as part of the RTÉ Reflecting the Rising project. A big thanks also to the many volunteers and actors who gave their time so generously to help make RTÉ Reflecting the Rising a memorable and successful day.

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