President Michael D Higgins was among the crowd at Cork Opera House last night for the first public screening of an episode of The Irish Revolution, a major documentary collaboration between UCC and RTÉ. Narrated by Cillian Murphy, the three-part adaptation of the hugely successful book, The Atlas of the Irish Revolution, begins on RTÉ One next Monday.
After the screening, President Higgins took to the stage as part of a panel discussion chaired by John Bowman. The President recalled his own father's involvement in the War of Independence as part of the IRA in north Cork, and praised the documentary for its approach to the period of 1916-22.
The panel also included Dr Heather Laird and Dr John Borgonovo of UCC, as well as former politician Dr Martin Mansergh.
All four stressed the importance of bringing diverse strands to the narrative of the period, including the involvement of women, the importance of class, and how the conflict in Ireland was related to other struggles going on in various parts of the world.
Fittingly for the setting, the episode screened at Cork Opera House had plenty references to Cork, including the tale of how the death of the city's lord mayor Terence MacSwiney, following a hunger strike in Brixton Prison, was of huge importance in focusing international attention on the struggle in Ireland, much to the chagrin of the British.
Proceeds from the sale of tickets for the screening went to Cork Penny Dinners. As well as the President – accompanied by his wife Sabina Higgins – attendees also included Lord Mayor of Cork Mick Finn; UCC president Prof Pat O'Shea; and Dee Forbes, director general of RTE.