Ireland’s lost aristocracy

Did you hear our recent episode, ‘Elites’? If you were wondering what Howth Castle looks like, here’s a video of Naomi’s visit to meet Julian Gaisford-St Lawrence, heir to the Dublin estate his family has owned for 800 years. It’s a peek into the fading world of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy.

Episode 6: Elites

Who are Ireland’s elites? That question was once easily answered, but not since independence upended the entire social order! In this episode Naomi visits a castle in Dublin that has been the home of one family for 35 generations — and finds the current heir still feels he’s not accepted as one of Ireland’s own. Tim investigates how his own ancestors went from being aristocrats’ servants to rebels in one generation. Or perhaps they were rebels all along? We speak to an expert who says Ireland today is in denial about having elites, when they are hiding in plain sight. Find out who they are and more in our chat with elitism expert Dr. Ciaran O’Neill.

Links to find help

Our recent episode on the Catholic Church in Ireland touched on some difficult issues, including abuse in institutions and people affected by secrecy about adoptions.

If you are affected by any of these issues or would like to find out more, here are some organisations that could help:

  • Caranua works to improve the lives of survivors of institutional abuse.
  • One in Four supports survivors of sexual abuse during childhood. Listeners in Northern Ireland or the rest of the UK could contact Nexus NI or Napac.
  • The Adoption Rights Alliance offers resources to help track down lost family members and lobbies for the rights of those affected by the system.
  • Cari helps children affected by abuse.
  • There is some information about accessing healthcare and government services on the Citizens Information website.
  • Justice for Magdalenes Research campaigns for recognition and support for survivors of Magdalene laundries.

Episode 5: The Catholic Church

For decades, Ireland was synonymous with Catholic control – but the last 30 years have seen a new cultural climate take hold in the country, and a furious backlash has broken out against the legacies of the Church’s institutional stranglehold. We’ll be looking at how the Church became so powerful in the Irish Republic in the first place, and the reasons behind its dramatic fall from grace in recent times. We’ll be talking to the formidable local historian Catherine Corless, who exposed institutional abuse and cover-ups on a massive scale in 2014, and we’ll also interview journalists and doctors at the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin, which inspired public outrage when the state almost gave it over to an order of nuns with a questionable past.

Episode 4: Britain’s ‘Knowledge Gap’ about Ireland

Recent politics have revealed a common lack of knowledge about Ireland and Northern Ireland in the Britain at a time when it is of vital strategic importance. What is behind the blind spot? We call this phenomenon ‘The Knowledge Gap’, and investigate how it came to be by comparing the history courses taught in Ireland and the UK, with some striking results. We also hear from experts on Northern Ireland who found themselves in the eye of the storm following the recent election which brought the Democratic Unionist Party unexpectedly close to power in Westminster and unleashed huge demand for crash courses on Northern Ireland. This episode reveals that uncertainty about where the UK begins and ends is widespread — including among those whose job is to know.

Episode 3: The Irish Language

Irish: a rare and ancient language that is spoken from the streets of Canada to the corridors of power in the European Union. This episode delves into why the language is such a powerful national symbol for Ireland, its fraught history, and how it’s still a point of political strife today.

Episode 2: Unionism: Election Special

The dramatic UK election result has suddenly made Northern Irish politics more pressing than ever. Are you trying to figure out what the DUP is anyway and what all this means for Brexit? We answer all these questions and more in this special UK election edition of The Irish Passport. It includes a report from a loyalist pipe band event where we asked marchers what they thought of Brexit, and got some surprising answers….

Episode 1: The Border

Our pilot episode looks at political geography on the island of Ireland — what’s the difference between North and South? How did it get to be that way, and what is the future of the Irish border now that one part of the island is leaving the EU? We take a look at the history of north-south division on the island, and Naomi reports from the border region speaking to locals about their thoughts on the future of this international boundary.