Ireland by Podcast: 4 of the Best

Ireland by podcast: from fishing to climate change to comedy for varied tastes to music also for varied tastes to business to drama to politics, there are all sorts of podcasts about Ireland.

ireland carlingford louth

Hearing the voices of Ireland speak can bring back memories. Podcast voices can create anticipation for a trip and give ideas for travel, as well. You may get familiar with the range of Irish accents, and if you choose you might learn a bit of Gaeilge (that is how the Irish language is known in Irish) along the way to learning whatever else your interest might be.

arches man listening to podcast in pub

Among the many podcasts to do with Ireland, here are four to enjoy:

Irish history

The name of this is straightforward: Irish History Podcast. It is a project of Fin Dwyer, a historian, author, and researcher. He began the podcast in 2010, at first with a focus on medieval history. As the years unfolded he’s expanded his subjects to include the great famine, the 1916 Rising, and other historical events and topics.

christchurch dublin evening

He makes good use of interview and narrative as he takes a historian’s perspective on a range of subjects. There’s a recent episode in which he joins archaeologists as they explore Viking era discoveries in Dunmore Cave and the history, legends, and myth connected with them. There is another recent episode in which he interviews Hallie Rubenhold, author of The Five – The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper as she traces, among other things, Irish connections to the crimes. There is another episode in which Dwyer vividly evokes what day to day life was like just before the Easter Rising called Dublin: the calm before the storm.

Mother Focloir
Dispatches from a not so dead language: that phrase is the tag line for Mother Focloir. The Irish language and issues surrounding it run through the episodes, but like the language itself, they can and do cover all sorts of aspects of Irish life. Darach O’Séaghdha and The Irish For @theirishfor host the episodes, which have included fairy forts, superstitions and traditions you may never have heard about, Ireland in 100 words with scholar Sharon Arbuthnot, bluegrass and greengrass in Ireland and Appalachia. You will hear loads of information and opinion most often laced with humor in the telling.

ireland sign in gaelic

The Irish Passport
Naomi O’Leary is a journalist. Tim McInerney is a historian. Both are Irish, and both have lived and studied in both Ireland and abroad. Politics and history, and the bigger, and sometimes longer, stories that underpin and give context to political and other aspects of life in Ireland are ideas that center their choice of subjects for The Irish Passport. podcast. Thoughtful, often surprising, always well informed reporting are hallmarks too. There are episodes about the Great Hunger, and about the recent elections in Ireland; one about fairy mythology in Irish life; a consideration of Ireland’s varied perspectives on abortion; a look at the Gaelic language; a consideration of the surprising things people in England have and have not been taught about Ireland in school. There are a number of episodes to do with cross border issues, and if you’ve ever wanted a snapshot of what that is about on the ground, check out their podcast episode called Derry: Ireland’s Jerusalem.

ire;and table at pub w/notebooks

Irish Music Stories
Shannon Heaton’s Irish Music Stories is the precise title. Heaton is herself an award winning Irish American musician. Her instruments are flutes, whistles, accordion, and voice; she writes and composes in both traditional Celtic and Celtic influenced classical styles. Heaton well knows how to tell stories through music and what that means. Her parents were journalists and educators, so she grew up around stories told through word as well.

Irish musician podcaster Shannon Heaton

These gifts and skills come together as she creates this podcast. Living in Boston and touring internationally herself, Heaton is able to draw on musical connections and friendships to illuminate such subjects as combining parenting with the traveling life of a Celtic musician; an interview with Irish painter Vincent Crotty, who often designs sets and backdrops for Celtic music productions; gender identity and equality in Celtic music; cross connections when Celtic musicians work in other genres of music; and perspectives on the part food plays in building community and connection in Celtic music. The focus is music and there is plenty of that. The throughline of Shannon Heaton’s Irish Music Stories, however, is one of community connected and informed by music.

Each of these podcasts is available on many listening platforms. At times, too, the creators of these podcasts offer and/or participate in live events, where you can meet them and perhaps see them do interviews.

The Irish History Podcast, Mother Focloir, The Irish Passport, and Shannon Heaton’s Irish Music Stories are each independent productions of the artists who are creating them.

These four podcasts are my favorite ones about Ireland. They each have archives for you explore. They are each small creative businesses, too, deserving of your support should you enjoy what they have to offer.

Photgraph of Shannon Heaton courtesy of the artist. Other photographs by Kerry Dexter. Thank you for respecting copyright.

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