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RTÉ doc to examine the Irish experience in London

RTE Radio One doc The Green Line will air on May 4
RTE Radio One documentary The Green Line will air on May 4

THE first of a two-part radio documentary about the Irish in London will air on RTÉ Radio 1 this week.

The Green Line and The Green Cab are produced by Irish Post journalist Robert Mulhern and Ronan Kelly for RTÉ’s Documentary on One series.

Each programme will look at the Irish experience in the English capital through the stories of ordinary people.

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Speaking about the documentary Mr Mulhern said: “This is a collective story linking a street drinker, boxer, singer, factory worker, police officer, music promoter and a construction worker who followed his daughter to London.

“But that’s just a small part of it. The Irish experience here has changed — how people work, live and how often they go home. I was lucky to find people with interesting, sad and funny stories that give a flavour of that experience.”

Both programmes have been in production since January and were commissioned by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

The Kildare documentary maker believes that listeners will identify with the themes he explored on the streets and transport networks of London.

He said: “Using a black cab and the tube felt like a good way to link the stories because they crisscross the city. You are always on the move in London and there are Irish stories at every stop.

“It’s not possible to tell the definitive story of the Irish in London, because there are more than 175,000 of us living here, but there was a conscious decision to record the voices of the Irish man and women on the street in London with interesting stories that would give a sweep of experience.”

He added: “All these people have very different personal stories to tell, but they are united by their decision to leave, some know they’ll never go back and one man passed away during production. But I was delighted to have the opportunity to tell his story before he went.”

The Green Line airs on Saturday, May 4 at 6pm on RTÉ Radio 1 followed by The Green Cab on May 11.



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One comment on “RTÉ doc to examine the Irish experience in London”

  1. Karlo Thornbury

    Dear Robert Mulhern,
    I've just been messing about on Youtube looking at some clips about old London Irish navvy men in Cricklewood. It stirred a memory I had of watching a documentary at the Rotterdam Film Festival about 2001 about older Irish men who had mainly fallen on hard times. One man was listing all the things he could do (rural Irish skills) and lamenting that there was no use for them in London - he was still labouring eventhough he was fairly old. I think the doc got it's name from him saying "I could read the wind" or something similar. I was wondering if you know anything about it? Looking on google, all I can find is a feature film called I can Read the Sky but that's not what I'm on about. Does it ring any bells with you? I remember being very moved by it and almost in tears after the showing.

    There was another programme I saw on RTE years ago about a charity in London who brought men and women from that same generation back to Ireland (can't remember if it was to stay or to visit). Many hadn't been back for decades. The camera followed them back and some of them were very nervous the closer they got to home. One totally freaked and refused to get off the bus and they brought him/her back to London. Again it was very moving and wonder if in the making of the above radio documentary you came across either of them? I would appreciate it if you could provide me with any information.
    Karlo Thornbury


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