Running for just over three years, clocking up over 150 episodes in the process, Oran and Ryhan O’Halloran’s We, The Irish podcast is about people forgotten in Irish history. Their stories are told in short 15-minute episodes, though of course some are deserving of much longer runtimes, such as the 46-minute episode 149, entitled ‘See, it’s OK, He Saw it on the Television”, about James Reid and one of the worst journeys an Irishman has ever taken.
Gently swelling strings underpin each life story, lending them an air of gravitas. And the balletic introductions alone will have you standing to attention, proud to be Irish. For example, episode 157 about the forgotten Corkman behind one of the institutes of American sport – Patsy Donovan and the Boston Red Sox – begins: “I often wonder what our top athletes could achieve somewhere else if born somewhere else or coached into a different sport. Could O’Gara have kicked for the Patriots, could Corbett have pipped Bolt for the 100m, could O’Connell outswim Thorpe in the final stretch?
“And despite these thoughts, as a nation, we more often than not have battled far above our standings. Taylor rewrote the rules, Keane set the standard, and Best brought new meaning to the beautiful game. For some, our identity as a nation is as much intertwined in our sports as it is our language, our music, and the soil beneath our toes which keeps the sea away.” Stirring stuff.
A tongue-in-cheek title, this four-parter was released on BBC Sounds last November and is a spin-off from the ongoing Nothing Is Real: A Beatles Podcast, by Jason Carty and Steven Cockcroft. That’s a “never-ending conversation about the greatest band the world has ever known”. Give the Beatles Back to the Irish explores the Fab Four’s family roots and looks at their debut, and only, live appearance in Dublin in November 1963 at the Adelphi, with brilliant soundbites and archive footage interspersed. The series features Belfast gigs, castles, Mayo islands, and Gay Byrne.
From beloved and longstanding shows such as I’m Grand, Mam and An Irishman Abroad to some just taking their first steps, like The Irish Expat Podcast and The Irish in Perth Podcast, the expat community around the world is well-served by podcasts. Some others to investigate: Caroline McKenna’s A County Down Under (currently midway through its fifth season); Irish Voices Conversations with the Irish Diaspora, an eight-parter from 2021; and Irish in Toronto from Pa Sheehan, discussing why they came, what made them stay, what they miss about home, and their future.