Identity Statement for RTÉ Radio Talk Scripts in Irish

  • Reference code: IE UCDA P259
  • Title: RTÉ Radio Talk Scripts in Irish
  • Dates: 1935–94
  • Level of description:
  • Extent: 47 boxes
  • Context
  • Content and Structure
  • Conditions of Access and Use
  • Allied Material

Institutional History

Irish broadcasting began on 1 January 1926, with a first transmission from the newly-founded public broadcaster, the ‘Irish Free State Broadcasting Service’, popularly called 2RN. Acting on a report by the Special Committee on Wireless Broadcasting (28 March 1924), it had been decided to establish a State service managed by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs rather than opening the market to private broadcasters, and the Wireless Telegraphy Act was passed in November 1926. Séamus Clandillon was the service’s first director. With the installation of a high-power transmitter in Athlone, the Dublin and Cork stations became known as ‘Radio Athlone’ from 1932 onwards; this was restyled to ‘Radio Éireann’ in 1937. After the addition of Teilifís Éireann in 1961, the combined services were renamed ‘Radió Teilifís Éireann’ in 1966 (Broadcasting Authority Amendment Act), and finally ‘Raidió Teilifís Éireann’ in 2009 (Broadcasting Act).

Broadcasting was intended to be bilingual from the beginning, and indeed, the potential of the wireless broadcast for the national language had featured in the Special Committee’s 1924 report. The 1950s were the period when programmes in Irish reached a peak with around 8.4% of all broadcasts. However, the amount of Irish, and the character of the programmes, remained a bone of contention, and various discussions and campaigns held nationally and in the Gaeltacht areas over the decades brought about the establishment of Raidió na Gaeltachta (1972) and Teilifís na Gaeilge (1996).

The first programmes in Irish by 2RN and Radio Éireann were to a very large part music programmes (nearly 50%), and the remainder was made up of talks, stories, and drama. (Drama scripts proper are in collection P261.) Sorcha Ní Ghuairim’s series ‘Is Your Irish Rusty?’ (1944–5) was the first programme featuring formal language lessons. 

Much material in this collection originated with the Talks (later General Features) Office, about a third with the Scriptwriters’ Office (i.e. Proinsias Ó Conluain), and some material probably originated with the Music Department and the Children’s Department, but is not marked as such. Some few documents were transferred from the Cork Studios on Union Quay. 

The Talks Office was established in 1939, with Roibeard Ó Faracháin as its first head. He was responsible for talks both in English and Irish. This office was renamed ‘Talks and Features’ in 1945, and ‘General Features Office’ in 1947. In that year, Ó Faracháin became Controller of Programmes, and Francis MacManus replaced him as General Features Officer until 1965. The General Features Office invited and commissioned a large proportion of their talks from writers external to RTÉ; and scripts from over 150 various authors are extant.

More than a third of the documents in this collection derive from scriptwriter and producer Proinsias Ó Conluain. He attained his post in 1947; in the same year that the Outside Recording Unit (i.e. the recording van) began operations, collecting sound recordings which Ó Conluain, and other scriptwriters working in English, used for his programmes. He retired in 1983. Apart from documents strictly deriving from his work for RÉ/ RTÉ, there is correspondence and research material for his book publications and other interests.

The bulk of documents in this collection is made of scripts, namely radio talk and features scripts. Features were an amorphous ‘genre’ including formal lectures, interviews, short plays, liturgical programmes, and what would now be called documentaries, often including sound material gathered from around the country. Scripts composed around sound material are so-called ‘linking-scripts’. There are also some talks resembling personal news digests, by writers Conchubhar Ó Ruairc and Pádraig Tyers (1950s–60s). Beyond Ó Conluain’s correspondence, such material only survives for ten of the external authors, but is characteristically rich in content (cf. Máirtín Ó Cadhain, Pádraig Óg Ó Conaire, and Muiris Ó Súilleabháin).

Among the 150 (plus) scriptwriters, there are Irish writers of note such as Máirtín Ó Cadhain, Séamus Ó Grianna, Liam O’Flaherty, and Seán Ó Riordáin; there are folklorists such as Seán Ó Súilleabháin; there are reminiscences from men deeply involved with the development of the Irish nation, such as Earnán de Blaghd (Ernest Blythe), or Piaras Béaslaí; and there are others whose names are closely associated with the various movements for language and cultural revival, and with Irish drama and publishing such as Proinsias Mac an Bheatha, Tomás Mac Anna, and Seán Ó Riada. Besides Ó Conluain, there are other RÉ/RTÉ employees who supplied occasional talks and features to the programmes, such as Mairéad Ní Ghráda, Seán Mac Réamoinn, and Proinsias Mac Aonghusa.

Archival History

The radio talks and features gathered by RTÉ Archives were split according to language some time in the 1990s. The three collections of RTÉ Radio Scripts, the Irish-language Talk Scripts which constitute this collection (P259), English-language Talk Scripts (P260), and Radio Drama and Variety Scripts (P261) were transferred from RTÉ custody to UCD Archives in July 2011 to facilitate a programme of archival re-packing, cataloguing and surrogating.

Scope and Content

Literary writings: short stories; short plays; translations from French, Russian, English.

Educational talks: various subjects with emphasis on Irish history and folklore, the Irish language; language lessons. 

Folklore: memoranda and notes collected during fieldwork; correspondence with folklore collectors. 

Reminiscences: deriving from the War of Independence; describing Gaeltacht life. 

Radio series: including ‘Blás Aniar’/ ‘Litir Aniar’ (current affairs in Connacht), ‘Conas a dearfá?’ (linguistic quiz), ‘Tráth na gCeist’ (table quiz). 

Proinsias Ó Conluain’s research: memoranda, notes and correspondence gathered for particular programmes; material gathered for book projects. 


Tomás Bairéad, Piaras Béaslaí, Risteárd B. Breathnach, Seán Breathnach, 

Séamus Daltún, Earnán de Blaghd, Pádraig Denn, Seán de hÓra, Victor de Paor, 

Pearse Hutchinson, 

Tomás Luibhéid, 

Dónall Mac Amhlaigh, Proinsias Mac an Bheatha, Tomás Mac Anna, Pádraig Mac an Ultaigh, Séamus Mac Aoidh, Criostóir Mac Aonghusa, Proinsias Mac Aonghusa, Labhrás Mac Brádaigh, Proinsias Mac Cana, Séamus Mac Ciarnáin, Seán Mac Fheorais, Calum I. Mac Ghille Eatháin, Gordon Mac Gill-Fhinnéin, Breandán Mac Giolla Choille, Proinsias Mac Giollarnáth, Seán Mac Giollarnáth, Pádraig Mac Giolla Ruaid, Alf Mac Lochlainn, Seán Mac Maoláin, Tomás Mac Mhuiris Ruaidh, Gearóid Mac Niocaill, Liam Mac Reachtain, Seán Mac Réamoinn, Tomás Mac Síthigh, Antoine Mac Suibhne, Éamonn Mac Suibhne, [Oscar Mac Uilis?] , 

Mairéad Ní Ghráda, Máire Ní Ghuairim, Sorcha Ní Ghuairim, Íde Ní Lochlainn, Mairín Ní Mhuirgheasa, 

Tomás Ó hAilín agus Caoimhín Ó Nualláin, Diarmuid Ó hAlmhain, Peadar Ó hAnnracháin, Micheál Ó hAodha, Conn Ó Briain, Liam Ó Briain, Leon Ó Broin, Breandán Ó Buachalla, Máirtín Ó Cadhain, Cormac Ó Cadhlaigh, Tomás Ó Catháin, Seán Ó Ceallaigh, Donnchadh Ó Céileachair, Séamus Ó Céilleachair, Seán Ó Ciarghusa, Seán Ó Ciosáin, Tomás Ó Cofaigh, Séamus Ó Coigligh, Tadhg Ó Coincheannain, Pádraig Óg Ó Conaire, Caoimhín Ó Conghaile, Seán Ó Conghaile, Proinsias Ó Conluain, Liam Ó Connacháin, Seán Ó Cróinín, Brian Ó Cuív, Pádraig Ó Dálaigh, Máirtín Ó Direáin, Pádraig Ó Domhnaill, Peadar N. Ó Domhnaill, Eoghan Ó Domhnaill Dhonnchaidh, Pádraig Ó Domhnalláin, Niall Ó Dónaill, Diarmuid Ó Drisceoil, Brian Ó Dubhda, Domhnall Ó Dubhda, Aodh Ó Duibheanaigh, Seosamh Ó Duibhginn, Seán Ó hÉarlí, Cathal Ó hÉideáin, Seán Ó Faoláin, Roibeárd Ó Faracháin, Pádraig Ó Fiaich, Tomás Ó Fiaich, Brian Ó Fianachta, Pádraig Ó Finneadha, Liam Ó Flaithearta, Domhnall Ó Flannagáin, Micheál Ó Flanagáin, Criostóir Ó Floinn, Tomás Ó Floinn, Aindrias Ó Gallchobhair, Piaras Ó Gaora, Risteárd Ó Glaisne, Eoghan Ó Grádaigh, Séamus Ó Grianna (‘Máire’), Cathal Ó Griofa, Seán Ó Grogáin , Seosamh Ó Hileaird, Tomás Ó Laighin, [?] Ó Leathluir, Seán Ó Leocháin, Anraí Ó Liatháin, Seán Ó Luing, Séamus Ó Mainnín, Seán Ó Maolbhrighde, Caoimhín Ó Marcaigh, Pádraig Ó Méalóid, Aindrias Ó Muimhneacháin, Diarmuid Ó Muirithe, Seán Ó Mulláin, Pádraig Ó Neachtain, Séamus Ó Néill, Caoimhín Ó Nualláin, Gearóid Ó Nualláin, Pádraig Ó Nuatáin, Micheál S. Ó hÓdhráin, Tadhg Ó Rábhartaigh, Tomás Ó Raghallaigh, Seán Ó Riada, Breandán Ó Riain, Liam Ó Riain, Seán P. Ó Riain, Breandán Ó Ríordáin, Dominic Ó Ríordáin, Seán Ó Ríordáin, Conchubhair Ó Ruairc, Frainc Ó Sé (Niall Tóibín) , Muircheartach Ó Séaghda, Conchobhar Ó Síothcháin, Eoghan Ó Súilleabháin, Muiris Ó Súilleabháin, Seán Ó Súilleabháin, Aodh Ó Tuama, Diarmuid Ó Tuama, Seán Ó Tuama, Seán Óg Ó Tuama, Daithí Ó hUaithne, Breandán Ó hUallacháin, Tarlach Ó hUid, Seán Ó hUrmoltaigh, 

Mainchín Seoighe, Gearóid Stockman, 

Nioclás Tóibín, Seán Tóibín, Tomás Tóibín, Pádraig Tyers, 

Pádraig Ua Cianáin, Pádraig Ua Maoileoin.

  • Access: Available by appointment to holders of a UCD Archives reader's ticket. Produced for consultation in microform. Press photographs available online at the UCD Digital Library.
  • Language: Irish, occasional English
  • Finding aid: Descriptive catalogue

Papers of Ernest Blythe IE UCDA P24

Papers of Seán Ó Ríordáin in UCD Special Collections, James Joyce Library

Seán Ó Súilleabháin and many other writers in this collection contributed to the National Folklore Collection

Small number of related Collections in the RTÉ Radio Archives

Publications Note

Maurice Gorham. Forty Years of Irish Broadcasting (Dublin, 1967).

Iarfhlaith Watson. Broadcasting in Irish (Dublin, 2003).