Terry Wogan reaches the halfway mark in the epic journey around his homeland as he shares memories of childhood holidays in Galway, before heading north to the border.
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"Tis maybe someday I'll go back to Ireland
"If only at the closing of my day."
That's the opening lines to Galway Bay,
a crowd-pleasing "all-come-all-you"
that talks of the beauty of Galway Bay.
I've already travelled the southern half of the country,
the Ireland I knew from my youth,
and now I'm headed north to a land I'm less familiar with.
The border was a dangerous place.
'I'll be recalling Northern Ireland's unsung heroes.'
He signed up with White Star and off he went on Titanic.
'I want to see how much of that old Catholic prudery has survived.'
Three, two, one, go!
'I want to bathe in the glories of great Irish success stories.'
It was interesting - the journey of traditional Irish dance...
a little bit of flamenco, a little bit of Broadway.
'Back in Dublin, I've agreed to subject myself to a grilling
'from Ireland's father confessor.'
Did you decide that you do not believe in God, or otherwise?
I spent the first 30 years of my life here in my own lovely country
and the next 40 years over the water in England.
As I set off on the second leg of my journey, I can't help reflecting
on what the people of these two countries think of each other.
The English took a very superior view
that the Irish were not particularly intelligent, they believed in fairies,
they believed in leprechauns.
Just as, indeed,
the Irish continue to have, in some cases,
a view of the British as being cold,
superior in their attitudes.
Since there's no great racial difference between the two peoples,
it's obvious that the differences have been formed by history.
This thought will be on my mind
as I travel through the rest of the country.
Galway is the starting point of this second leg.
'The seaside suburb of Salthill
'was as far north as we Wogans ever went when I was a lad.'
I spent many a holiday here with my family.
Salthill, an endless promenade, as I remember it.
Up and down which the Da, the Ma, the brother and myself used to walk.
I have here a picture of us.
As you can see, that's myself with the old Dumbo ears -
it's very brave of me to be standing out in the high wind, because I could take off at any moment.
And the brother behind, in a pullover
that could only have been knitted by my granny.
The Da is smoking a fag at the corner of the mouth,
but he's wearing a beret.
That was a sign that my father was on holiday,
because normally, my father, in his workaday life,
he would wear what I am wearing, which is called a cap.
Galway has always been known as a place for young people,
and to this day, it is full of young people.
And that's one of the main reasons I resent it.
A couple of miles down the coast from Salthill
is the 1,000-year-old city of Galway.
Always been the most international of Ireland's cities,
it was visited by Christopher Columbus, and its medieval Spanish Arch recalls a time
when it was the country's principal port of trade with Spain and France.
And it's always had a uniquely independent spirit.
'1,000 years on, Galway is the Republic's fastest-growing city,
'and its arts festival is Ireland's answer
'to the Notting Hill Carnival and the Edinburgh Fringe,
'all wrapped up in one explosive package.'
'I think Galway is a very rich place.
'It's a tapestry of culture, song, craic.'
It's big and it's beautiful and it's bashful and it's buzzing.
'This big, beautiful, bashful street parade
'will be watched by 80,000 people
'as it weaves its way through Galway's maze of medieval streets.
'It's staged by the theatre company, Macnas.
'Its artistic director is Noeline Kavanagh.'
-Over on the wall are various representations, is that a dancing bear?
-And also a bull with enormous horns?
So what's all that about?
Basically, what you see here is a tapestry of inspiration
that was the foundation for the work this year
that inspired our artists in the company to make the sculptures.
'Over the last two decades, Macnas has transformed street theatre in Ireland,
'making it the inclusive and visceral experience it is here.'
'Macnas means "joyful abandonment",
'something my education and upbringing didn't prepare me for.'
'But like so many other Irish people,
'I was no stranger to the stage.
'When I was at Belvedere College in Dublin during the '50s,
'I was a keen member of the school's drama group.
'We put on countless Gilbert and Sullivan productions.
'Here in Galway, I've arranged to meet my old school friend, Eugene Kearney.
'He and I were the Olivier and Richardson of Belvedere College.'
Did you feel at any time when we were doing that
that you had a future on the stage?
Eh...frankly, no. I did think you had.
You had the style and you had the, eh...
-What you're saying is...
-..the je ne sais quoi.
-..What you're saying is I upstaged you?
This is the evidence of T Wogan as the Grand Inquisitor.
-Even over-acting in the still photograph.
-You're kind of unrecognisable in that.
-I'm a little heavier since then.
-You're very well made up.
You were very favourably reviewed. "Eugene Kearney" - notice I came first -
"and Terence Wogan gave us the Two Noble Lords as Gilbert intended them to be,
"quite out of the ordinary in brainlessness and ineptitude
"but superbly convinced of their own omni-competence."
Perhaps we should stop there. But anyway, that's, erm...
Yes, that's a favourable review.
So do you think the Irish have a talent,
have a performance gene in them more than anybody else?
Or do they just think they have?
Possibly a higher proportion of people in Ireland
are given to getting up on the stage, or singing or dancing,
whatever talent they may have. Yeah, I think so.
In Galway, they're not afraid to take their talent out onto the streets.
But I've been tipped off to look out for a re-enactment
of the execution of King Charles I in London in 1649.
It was an event the city of Galway
has a surprisingly strong connection with.
Please. I am your King!
It stars Oliver Cromwell, hardly Ireland's favourite Protestant,
given what he did to the Catholics.
I, Oliver Cromwell,
accuse Charles Stuart, King of England, of treason!
The prisoner is King Charles I,
complete with flowing locks
and a bevy of women protesting his innocence.
This King has shown himself to be an enemy of our Parliament
and is hereby sentenced to death!
Axe man, do your duty!
'But the Royal executioner refuses -
'the hunt is on for a replacement.'
'Up steps a new recruit,
'ready and willing to do the job for a handsome fee.'
Axe man, off with his head!
SCREAMING AND SHOUTING
'It turns out, the anonymous executioner was a Galway man,
'and this very building, now the King's Head pub, was his reward.'
Jonathan Gunning, I may say,
you played that role of executioner as if you were born to it.
Thank you. You know what, the funny thing is - in a way, I was.
The man that got to do the execution was a man called Richard Gunning,
and my name is Jonathan Gunning.
You are a direct descendant of the man who did the regicide?
Well, we could say that, and I'm very good with a hatchet.
But in a way, you're responsible as well, Mr Wogan.
What have we got here?
We have here a copy of the death warrant from 1649...
-Of Charles I.
-..of Charles I.
There were 59 signatories, and right here is the signature of Sir Wogan.
-A Thomas Wogan?
-A Thomas Wogan - very, very good.
We have his name right here - Thomas Wogan.
I'm as guilty of regicide as your ancestor?
But his name was Sir Thomas Wogan, and of course you're a Sir as well,
-so clearly it works out quite well for you.
-Yes, it does.
So maybe you could keep going, and we could work together.
-Kill a king, become a knight?
From Galway, city of culture and vitality,
we travel northwards to the beautiful county of Sligo.
We're heading for a deserted beach miles from anywhere.
Ireland was a very prudish place to grow up in,
and I remember as a child when you went for a dip in the sea,
Catholic modesty demanded we reveal as little flesh as possible.
Today, these golden sands are going to be alive with 200 or more ladies
putting two fingers up to Irish prudery.
Unfortunately, I can't be there -
today is the day I do my radio show, Weekend Wogan, back in London.
But I still hope to be able to make
my little contribution to The Dip In The Nip.
'I'm not sure that this could have happened
'even five, ten years ago in Ireland.
'For example, I used to go to Donegal beach
for holidays when I was a kid,
and everybody, particularly the adults,
you kept yourself well wrapped up.
If you went in for a swim you went to the water,
got in for a swim, came out again.
There was no real freedom of it.
What I found last year,
when I organised this event for the first time,
was I actually had to remind people that it was a fundraiser,
because it became about something else, about a sense of liberation.
'Public nudity in Ireland is actually still illegal.'
In many ways, I suppose it is an Irish solution to an Irish problem.
The Gardai come and make sure everybody's privacy's protected.
In fact, they should be arresting us, and my father was afraid I was going to get arrested.
But because we're not setting out to cause offence, that's the key thing.
We make sure it is kept private, so it's OK. Everybody takes it in the spirit in which it's intended.
'The man himself, Sir Terry Wogan!'
-'Oh, stop! Pack it in!'
This is a very, very special day in County Sligo in the west of Ireland.
There are a fine body of women, even as we speak,
and they're there on behalf of a breast cancer charity fundraising event
and they call it The Dip In The Nip.
'And it's up to us to launch them.'
So ladies and gentlemen, here we go.
Three, two, one! Go!
It's my mother's 90th birthday, and she has breast cancer.
She didn't want presents - she wanted people to do things for charity.
So this is my birthday present for her.
My mum passed away from cancer three years ago, so I came to support that cause.
Initially, we said we'd do it for a bit of a craic,
but unfortunately, our brother died of cancer last month,
so now we're doing it for him,
and I'm sure he's looking down now and laughing his head off!
Onwards, relentlessly onwards.
Past Sligo town, we encountered the extraordinary peak of Ben Bulben,
formed by glaciers during the Ice Age.
Looking down on it, it has the appearance of a slice of ripe Brie,
its sides falling away to the ground below.
The north face of Ben Bulben
is reputed to be one of the most dangerous climbs in Ireland,
and the flat top of the mountain,
one of the most isolated and inhospitable places in the country.
An American aircraft crashed here during World War Two.
It is said that some of its remains
can still be found on that windswept plateau.
'Before we know it, we're in Donegal, courtesy of Dave, my loyal driver.'
Donegal is the most northerly county in the Republic of Ireland.
In fact, it's more northerly than any county in Northern Ireland.
We're hoping to cross the border
between the Republic and Northern Ireland.
I have memories of, several years ago, crossing the border,
and it was no joke then.
There were watchtowers,
there were soldiers in the watchtowers, armed,
there was barbed wire.
The border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland
was a dangerous place.
Now the watchtowers are gone,
the soldiers and the barbed wire are distant memories.
You'd be hard-pressed to say exactly where the border is.
Then all of a sudden, you see ghosts from the past,
like this disused guardhouse.
Security has been replaced by commerce
as countless bureaux de changes compete to exchange euros for pounds
and road signs change from kilometres to miles.
We are now crossing the border. You are now in Derry in Northern Ireland.
So we go from kilometres to miles,
we've gone from a country that's enthusiastically a member of the EU
to another country that is perhaps not quite as enthusiastic.
Just over the border is Northern Ireland's second-biggest city,
known by two very different names.
Derry and Londonderry.
Good morning, Gerald Michael Anderson here, spinster of this parish...
'I've asked my old friend Gerry Anderson,
'the voice of BBC Radio Foyle,
'to explain the significance of these two names to me and you.'
You'd be stopped at night, and somebody would say,
"Where are you going?"
And you'd say..."Derry?",
wondering if it was right,
because if you say Derry, it means you're probably a Catholic.
But if you say Londonderry, you're most definitely a Protestant.
So he knows instantly what religion you are, which is important during the Troubles.
It's well over a decade since the peace agreement was signed,
but the River Foyle still acts as a kind of no-man's-land,
separating the Catholics on the west side
from the Protestants on the east,
with just one bridge connecting the two communities in the city centre.
The old walled city of Derry
is a powerful reminder of what this is all about.
The walls were built by English and Scottish Protestants,
to keep the native Catholics out.
'Gerry brings me here to explain how the time bomb
'of nearly four centuries of anti-Catholic discrimination
'was finally ignited.'
It was left to fester, it was never sorted out.
'It all began in 1947,
'when Catholics started receiving secondary education
'for the first time.'
'This was the very first generation of Catholics to be made aware
'of how unfairly they'd been treated over the centuries.'
The guys who had normally not got an education said,
"Hold on a minute. I'm a second-class citizen."
By the time people who are 12 years old get to university,
it'll be 1959, perhaps 1960.
They will leave university when they are 21.
They will see around a little bit, they'd think about it.
They'd be 25 or 26 by the time they realise they have to do something about this place.
Oh, look, it's 1969! Time to start the Troubles.
Down below the old city,
a series of murals tell the story of the Troubles
and, most famously, of Bloody Sunday.
On the 30th of January 1972,
a civil rights march through the city ended in tragedy,
and 13 demonstrators were shot dead by the British Army.
A 14th died later.
They were all Catholics.
It took 38 years for the truth to be unravelled,
and in 2010, an investigation led by Lord Saville
concluded that the deaths were "unjustified and unjustifiable".
The Saville Report was the first time that anything has happened
that has been actually really positive.
Because somebody was coming out and saying,
"You were right that the people were innocent. We believe you now.
"We didn't believe you before but you were right."
It gave the city a tremendous boost of self-confidence.
Everybody just went, "Thank you - that's all we want."
The Saville Report's conclusions
sent a wave of hope and optimism through the city,
as well as giving a further boost to existing initiatives
to help pull the next generation of Catholics and Protestants together in this town.
One of the most successful is he Foyle Cup.
Now one of Europe's biggest youth football tournaments,
this match between Derry City Boys and St Kevin's from Dublin
is taking place in the middle of the Creggan housing estate
on the outskirts of Derry.
The Foyle Cup attracts top under-18 players
from throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland and Europe,
and it's become a favourite for talent spotters from the big football clubs.
Not only that, but the tournament's given Derry's next generation
something else to think about.
'The Foyle Cup is one of the best competitions in Europe.'
There's Premiership teams in this. Wolves is playing under-16 and stuff.
There's American teams. There's actually a CET Spain
playing in our age group, under-19s.
A lot of clubs and places in the world know about the competition.
The worst of the Troubles would've been before us, but it has died down.
A lot of it has been down to playing football, because they're all mixing -
Catholics and Protestants - so people tend to forget about it.
The other great initiative is the Peace Bridge.
Work has begun on a pedestrian bridge across the River Foyle,
to link of two halves of the centre of the city -
east and west, Protestant and Catholic.
The new structure is a 235-metre footbridge,
supported by two curved suspension structures.
It's been described as a handshake across the Foyle.
It will be the biggest single regeneration project
in Derry city for over 30 years.
# BBC Radio 2. #
Back in the good old days when I was chained to my desk at BBC Broadcasting House,
doing Wake Up to Wogan on Radio 2 every morning,
I'd hand over the pastoral care of my audience
to a controversial Irish Catholic priest called Father Brian D'Arcy.
You'll remember his wise words, I'm sure...
'People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centred.
'Love them anyway.'
Every week, Father Brian presented a two-minute programme on my show
called Pause For Thought...
So, you're very welcome, Terry...
'..in which he'd disseminate words of wisdom
'from the monastery here at St Gabriel's Retreat.'
Mostly, we want it to be a welcoming place.
'Now he's the rector of the monastery here.
'Father Brian is regarded as a rebel in the Catholic Church,
'which is why he doesn't always wear priestly clothes.
'After all these years, I'm hoping to see the very place
'from which Father Brian broadcast to the nation.'
I always assumed you'd have a cell.
-Here's the cell.
-Is this going to disappoint me now?
Is there a bed of rushes and things?
-Well, it's a plank. This is my room.
-Your simple bedroom.
And also... What have you got here?
This is a lovely red light, which should remind you of something.
For 20 years on Pause For Thought,
usually on a Monday morning, I joined you.
So this little red light was burning outside the door.
-It's of no religious significance whatsoever?
-Only that Terry Wogan broadcast at the other end.
I sat down here, put on my headphones
and spoke to the nation, to 8 million people,
from this little desk and then went back to bed.
I got up at 5.20 every morning...
traipsed into London,
into Broadcasting House.
-You, in the pyjamas...
-Got out of bed, turned round, in the pyjamas,
and said, "Good morning, Terry."
ARCHIVE RECORDING: 'There are times when we let the world get the better of us,
'and there are times we let depression blind us to the good things all around us.'
'Outside of his radio broadcasts,
'Father Brian works in a troubled world.
'In 2009, the Murphy Report confirmed
'that there had been a number of cases of child abuse
'by Catholic priests in Dublin from the 1970s.
'And this has seriously undermined people's confidence in the Catholic Church.
'Father Brian has been a very public critic
'of the way the Vatican has handled these revelations.'
The present Irish Catholic Church is in a complete mess.
The Murphy Report discovered there were 11 abusive priests in one diocese.
I was on the Council of Priests in Dublin during that time,
and it was never mentioned.
I have to say, it shook be to my roots,
not just in priesthood but in faith itself,
that so much could have been hidden.
And in the middle of all of that,
you had abusive priests who joined the priesthood
so that they could abuse children.
That's the fact of it.
And what is even more difficult for the people to understand
is not just the abusive priests, but that these people could be hidden,
enabled, changed and, in turn, helped to abuse more
by those in authority who should have known better.
It has to be said, the Irish people...
I think their faith has been shattered.
'To seek refuge from the crisis the Church finds itself in,
'Father Brian is drawn back to a time before organised religion,
'a time before Catholic and Protestant Churches.'
Brian, tell me why you've brought me to this idyllic spot - Lough Erne.
I used to be with you in the programme, and you'd say,
"Where are you speaking from?"
I'd say, "I'm looking out across the idyllic Lough Erne," and you'd never believe me.
So now you see how idyllic this place is.
All those word pictures I gave you, they fade into nothing,
when you actually see the beauty of it.
I would have to say that in the last 20 years
it is this scene - what you're looking at now -
and this man, Pat Lundy, in the boat,
who has kept me reasonably sane - I can't claim sanity.
So you'd be madder than you are if it wasn't for this lake?
Terry, I would be unbearably mad.
So what you do, you come out here and reflect?
-Or just sit and think of nothing?
-I think both are the same thing.
This has always been a sacred thing, it's a Celtic thing.
It is here for thousands of years, long before Christianity
and the Christians used this in the very beginning.
Right back to St Molaise of Devenish, the famous Columbanus of Iona,
all of those came on this lake and reflected on it.
This was the kind of place that bred the island of saints and scholars.
Somehow or another, once you get into this,
there's a kind of spirituality
that is missing everywhere else in Ireland.
The tension, the stress of the modern world,
and particularly the modern Catholic Church, drains out of you,
and you get filled with a spirituality
that is far more ancient and beautiful than anything that religion has to offer.
Father Brian takes his inspiration from the early Christian fathers,
and with people's faith in the Catholic Church at an all-time low in Ireland
it needs ambassadors like Father Brian D'Arcy more than ever before.
I'm headed for Belfast, capital of Northern Ireland.
Now, when I was in my teens and 20s,
you have to understand that people who lived in Dublin
very rarely crossed the border to go to Belfast -
and vice versa.
In fact, they're so disconnected
that they've only just completed the final section of the new motorway
that links the two cities.
If I went to Belfast at all, it was to play rugby
for my school team at Belvedere College in Dublin.
In those days, the city was probably best known for its shipyards,
which were owned and run by Harland and Wolff,
once the biggest shipbuilders in the world.
They employed over 30,000 people here on Queen's Island,
almost all of them Protestant.
Nicknamed Samson and Goliath, these monstrous yellow cranes
were symbols of Harland and Wolff's global supremacy.
Back in their heyday, Harland and Wolff were responsible
for the creation of the most notorious ship of all time.
The Titanic was the largest passenger ship in the world
when she set sail on her maiden voyage to New York on 10th April 1912.
Four days later, she struck an iceberg and sank,
and more than 1,500 people drowned.
What is much less well known is that 22 of the victims were local Ulstermen,
their lives quietly commemorated by the Titanic memorial
in the grounds of Belfast's City Hall.
The story of one, Thomas Millar, was typical of the ordinary Irishmen
who had had the misfortune to be on the ship when it sank.
Is that a picture of the man himself?
That's him. He was only 33 when he died,
so he was still a young man with his whole future ahead of him.
Susie Millar is the great- granddaughter of Thomas Millar.
Thomas Millar worked in Harland and Wolff as an engine fitter
and, for the three years it took to complete Titanic,
he was watching the ship getting bigger and bigger
and he started to think about the places it would be going
and the opportunities it would offer.
So he really set his mind to improving himself
and he went and studied to become a sea-going engineer, a marine engineer.
Just three months before Titanic was due to sail, his wife died.
He was left with these two young children and he wanted to give them
the best start in life,
so he signed up with White Star and off he went on Titanic with the idea of going to America,
basing himself there, then, once he had himself organised, sending for those two boys.
Those two boys were Susie's grandfather and great uncle.
Not only had they lost their mother,
but with their father on the Titanic,
they were about to lose him too.
As a deck engineer, part of his responsibility
was for the mechanisms which controlled the lifeboats,
so he, in all likelihood, was helping to get people away,
working those lifeboats and getting them lowered down,
so at least he was doing something to help others.
Probably no room for him on the boats?
No, crew would have been expected to do their duty until the end.
This poor man who thought he was doing good for his children...
in the end, he left them orphaned.
He left them something else as well.
He did. Where we are standing would have been the last place
that my grandfather saw his father before he sailed off on Titanic.
Before he left, my great grandfather took
my five-year-old grandfather to one side and gave him two new pennies.
He said, "Don't spend those until I see you again."
And of course, because he never did see his son again,
my grandfather kept those all his life.
-Yes, that's George V.
The sinking of the Titanic was one of the darkest days in the history of Belfast shipyards,
and yet that ill-fated ship has given its name to a massive project,
to regenerate this entire Docklands area.
Belfast shipyards is now known as the Titanic Quarter.
The irony of it.
Like London's Docklands,
it's going to include a brand-new financial and business district,
and a major new museum devoted to the memory of one of the 20th century's greatest tragedies.
This marvellous building, once the world headquarters of Harland and Wolff,
is destined to become the Titanic-themed hotel.
But before the developers move in,
I want to have a look at the old place.
Once inside, there are echoes of more gracious, elegant times.
The whole building feels like a glamorous transatlantic liner
with grand stairways and aristocratic sanitary ware.
But without doubt, the piece de resistance is this...
the drawing offices.
There are two of them. It was here that a sizable proportion
of the 20th century's greatest ships were designed and drawn.
When I can walk into these drawing offices and I can see people,
I can put names to people, where they sat, where they were based.
It is tinged with sadness to see the building in its state now.
'I'm joined by retired workers John Higgins and Rodney McCullough.'
You were here in the '50s and '60s, that's when you worked here,
so it must have been a tremendous hive of industry.
It was. In the '50s and '60s, and at the tail-end of the '40s,
-there were 51,000 people employed by the Harland and Wolff group.
And here in Belfast, we had 31,000.
So there was a massive empire
with branches in Liverpool, Southampton, London, three shipyards on the Clyde,
three engineering works on the Clyde,
so it was all controlled from this space here in Belfast.
What kind of people were they to work for?
Very disciplined, very disciplined workforce,
everything was very disciplined, even down to going to the toilet.
Back in those days you didn't clock in,
there were none of the fancy systems there are today.
You had a little block of wood called a board
with a number stamped across the top.
You called that in the morning from the timekeeper
and you threw it in to the timekeeper at night,
and that was the time recording system, so this board became a critical piece of infrastructure.
And when you went to the toilet, you used this board.
There was a man in the toilet, and when you went in, you gave him your board,
he looked at your number,
he recorded your time in and in seven minutes,
he came and he rattled the door to tell you it was time to get out.
So consequently, as a result of that, toilets were not known as toilets in Harland and Wolff,
they were widely known as "minutes",
because you only got seven minutes to do what ever you had to do.
Absolutely right too. We've all become too soft.
Seven minutes should be plenty of time!
Sadly, though, time ran out for the shipyards.
Less than 50 miles south of Belfast,
Armagh is one of Northern Ireland's five border counties.
It's one of the most fertile and beautiful parts of the country.
But its beauty belies its recent history.
During the three decades of the Troubles,
around 250 people were killed in South Armagh,
many of them British soldiers and police officers.
At that time, South Armagh was known as bandit country.
Not any more.
St Brigid's Accordion Band
has members not only from both sides of the border,
but from both Catholic and Protestant backgrounds.
'Given the size of the place,
'most of the village seems to be in the band!'
How is it that, in an area that really only has about 200 people in it,
you have 80 accordionists, not all here today...
playing the drums, playing all sorts of instruments?
How did you manage to generate that kind of enthusiasm?
A lot of hard work.
It all started back in 1991, Terry,
where there was not really anything going on in this locality,
and there was a lady from across the border who joined here
with four people, including my brother and sister and her own two daughters.
They decided that they would start music lessons.
THEY PLAY DRUMS AND ACCORDIONS
Why did you pick accordions?
I think it's a great instrument, it's easy to listen to,
it's not easy to play, but it's affordable.
And you've got all these people playing accordions and drums.
And of course, you become internationally famous -
you win competitions all over Europe, don't you?
Yes, we've won the All Ireland three years in a row,
we've won five All Irelands altogether,
and we are currently the Ulster champions for a junior band.
So we have a senior band and a junior band.
It's an extraordinary tribute to the fact that in this tiny area, and in an area
-that has certainly been embattled - you have had your share of violence here...
-We have indeed.
This border land area would be a focal point throughout history.
Economically and politically,
the border would be viewed as legitimate,
but culturally, the only differences
between here and the south
is the postboxes are green down there and red up here.
There's no line in a map with music.
I think I could grow to love the accordion.
And in Jonesborough, you'd better!
Within minutes, we're across the border back into the Republic.
I know the Irish like to think they're the only people that ever had a history,
but they do have a lot of it.
And the Boyne Valley is where it's at its richest.
Bru na Boinne is one of the most spectacular megalithic sites in Europe.
It's a chamber of tombs that's older than the pyramids of Egypt.
And these strange earthworks on the Hill of Tara mark the seat of Loegaire,
High King of Ireland and legendary adversary of St Patrick.
Nearby is a statue of St Patrick himself.
Keep an eye on that shamrock.
At some point in the 1st century AD, St Patrick won an argument
with the druids, and the old king gave him free rein to bring Christianity to this pagan isle.
The event that the Boyne Valley is best known for is the Battle of the Boyne -
the only significant battle, in European terms, ever fought in Ireland.
Back in 1690, the Protestants and the Catholics fought
to the death for Irish rule.
30,000 Catholics, led by King James II and his Jacobites, marched up from the south.
40,000 Protestant troops, led by King William -
King Billy, as he's become known - headed down from the north.
The armies met here on opposing sides of the River Boyne.
The Catholics never stood a chance.
Historian Turtle Bunbury explains why.
Several reasons why one army won... which ended up being King Billy.
One of them is that they were outnumbered - that's pretty obvious.
Secondly, King Billy's men were veterans of all the wars in Europe,
whereas King James's Jacobites were...
17,000 of them were farmers from round and about
who hadn't really fought before.
And, thirdly, lately, it's been discovered that the brandy rations
arrived on the morning of the battle itself for the Jacobite forces,
and a lot of them got stuck into it that day.
Are you sure this is not a part of Irish mythology?
I'm quite sure. A diary has been recently located and out of that...
The Jacobites were then driven down to Limerick.
Finally defeated at Limerick. That was the end of the Jacobites.
The Battle of the Boyne saw the end of Catholic rule in Ireland.
It was the last hoorah, definitely.
The drink gets blamed for nearly everything in Ireland.
What is clear is that Catholics were outnumbered and finally outdone.
After driving nearly 2,000 kilometres around the old Emerald Isle, I'm back in Dublin.
'When I was 15, one hour ahead of the posse,'
we Wogans moved here from Limerick, where I'd spent my childhood.
12 years later, I made Helen Joyce the happiest woman in the planet by marrying her.
At that time, I was speaking to the great Irish public - as a continuity announcer, no less.
Like most city dwellers, Dubliners are a breed apart.
They're known by country people as Jackeens,
and Dublin's always been seen as the most English city in Ireland.
And so, the Jack in Jackeen refers to the Union Jack.
The diminutive "een" makes them little Jacks.
That's country people for you.
And, by the way, they're called culchies,
but I'm not going to get into that.
I left Dublin in a marked manner for London in 1969.
'But this is the city that made me, so I suppose I could call myself a Jackeen.
'Is there any real difference though between the English and the Irish now?
'David Norris is a senator, here in the Irish Parliament.
'His father was English, his mother was Irish.'
I'm just trying to identify the differences, the similarities,
between the Irish and the British.
I think we're actually very similar in a lot of ways.
A slightly different sense of humour, I think.
But we are remarkably similar genetically. We're all mixed up.
If you look at Her Majesty, The Queen, a woman I greatly admire,
she is a direct descendant of both Brian Boru and Hugh O'Neill
through her mother, who was so gloriously Irish.
You know...fag in her mouth, gin in her handbag.
Punting on the nags, fairies in the kitchen.
Absolutely wonderful! And a woman, of whom Adolf Hitler said, "The most dangerous woman in Europe."
What an accolade, what a gal! I thought that was wonderful.
Not surprisingly then, there aren't many differences between the Irish and the English any longer.
Most of us are a mixture of the two.
Of course, like me, a lot of Irish don't live in Ireland any longer.
There are more of us in England than there are in Ireland.
I'm all in favour of bringing people together as much as possible, rather than fomenting division.
Celebrate difference, that's wonderful.
And I'm glad there are still people doing Morris dancing and rolling cheeses down the hillside.
Those are terribly English things. Irish people wouldn't do them. We have our own idiocies.
We may not roll cheeses or Morris dance,
but here in Ireland, we're taught to dance as though our lives depended on it.
Riverdance is now a world-famous stage show,
but I'm proud to say I was there at the very beginning,
before Michael Flatley and Jean Butler became household names.
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
Good grief! That brought the folk memories out.
Small hairs rising at the back of every Irishman's neck.
By anybody's standards, it was dramatic, it was dynamic.
It probably changed Irish dancing forever.
For 15 years, Riverdance has been a global, blockbusting stage show
and now it's back in Dublin rehearsing for another sell-out season at the Gaiety Theatre.
I've come to meet my old friend, Moya Doherty,
one of the original creators of Riverdance.
I can only tell you what an impact it had
on a simple old presenter like myself,
in terms of television, in terms of drama.
There was nothing to touch it. And it was you that started it.
Where did you get the idea?
HOW did you get the idea?
I needed to do something as a producer that wasn't song-based.
I wanted to present dance.
We don't have a history of ballet, we don't have a history of contemporary dance.
So, really, just to reach back into our very rich culture was the best place to go.
And I think marrying that with these two extraordinary Irish-American dancers,
Michael Flatley and Jean Butler,
brought an athleticism to Irish dance,
because they were first- and second- generation Irish-Americans.
And it was interesting what happened, the journey of traditional Irish dance,
-which was hands by the side and...
-So you wouldn't show the knickers.
Just... The Catholic Church had a very close hold on it all.
But obviously, those Irish-Americans were much freer
and they introduced the fusion of different cultures.
A little bit of flamenco, a little bit of Broadway, and that driving, building music.
Well, with the new show just about to open, rehearsals are at fever pitch.
Irish dancing has been transformed by Riverdance,
and nowadays, every parent in the country
is desperate to see their progeny clicking their heels
and stomping about like mad things on the stage.
'Moya and I look in on the next generation of Riverdancers in the making.'
We're going to do St Patrick's Day with all the dancers,
which is a very traditional dance, and it's known worldwide.
Each dancer will have learned this dance on their ranks all the way up.
'Susan Ginnety was one of the dancers
'on that very first performance of the fledgling Riverdance
'during the Eurovision Song Contest.'
-There you were on that wonderful night.
-Yeah. A long, long, time ago.
What did you feel? Did you think that something rather extraordinary had happened?
Absolutely! When we danced it first, we had our rehearsals
and we always knew it was fantastic.
Great camaraderie between everybody.
Then when we finished the dance that night, there was that, "Ah!" and then the applause.
-An extraordinary intake of breath.
-Absolutely. It was brilliant for us.
We were very young at the time.
I was 16 at the time, so I was only a baby myself.
It was brilliant - a great experience.
In many ways, Riverdance was the touch-paper that lit the beginning of a new Ireland,
proud of its heritage, confident about its future.
From the mid-1990s, Dublin became the epicentre
of a massive economic boom, dubbed the Celtic Tiger.
Lured by attractive tax incentives and compliant banks,
the speculators and developers descended on the capital,
built glass and steel palaces up and down the Liffey.
But with the crash of 2007, the smart money moved out,
the boom was over.
But for a while there at the beginning of the new millennium,
Dublin felt like the most affluent city in Europe.
'40 years earlier, I took my first staggering steps
'in broadcasting here in Dublin, alongside RTE's Gay Byrne.
'He has become the most famous man on Irish television and radio,
'but that's after I'd left the country, you know.'
For more than 37 years, he hosted The Late Late Show, the world's longest-running chat show.
It's been the biggest catalyst for social change this country has seen.
Landmark editions featuring lesbian nuns, women's rights and an AIDS special
showing how to put on a condom
have all helped to bring Ireland and the Irish into the 21st century.
Would you say that Ireland's changes have been considerable?
When you think that people walked out of the studio of The Late Late Show
because we were discussing the possibility of divorce being legalised in Ireland...
we were only discussing the possibility,
and people walked out in disgust and outrage.
We were speaking about contraception, we were speaking about gayness, and that was just...
the reaction to that,
even discussing it on the Late Late Show was so appalling, in the view of so many.
-When was that, the '60s, the '70s?
-Well into the '70s and even into the '80s, and now,
when you see gay partnerships being hunky-dory and contraception, of course,
no longer a point of discussion, neither is divorce,
and the ceiling didn't fall in and the sky...
whatever, nothing happened.
But people were roused to apoplexy about even the discussion.
To keep Gay going in his declining years, Auntie have given him a new series where he pins
well-known Irish people to their seat
with personal and penetrating questions until they cry for mercy.
It's called, modestly, The Meaning Of Life.
'What's it all about?
'Why are we here?
'Is there a God?'
Gay has talk to people like Edna O'Brien, Brenda Fricker and Gabriel Byrne and now it's my turn.
'I have foolishly agreed to succumb to his iron will. I'm beginning to regret it already.'
It's very important that I look my best for this.
'Gay is known for going for the jugular.'
I don't know why you're actually wasting tape doing this.
-We've got enough make-up on.
Are we about to call the master?
Would that noise not be too much, no?
Ah, what a man, because when you're talking,
for some reason, particularly when it's not going well, you do get a bit dry.
OK, let's go, thank you.
And I don't anticipate this going very well.
Good evening to you and welcome again, and our guest this time is Sir Terence Wogan.
Good day to you, sir, and thank you very much indeed for joining us.
-The pleasure is mine.
-This programme is called The Meaning Of Life.
A fairly pretentious title.
Indeed, it is.
Perhaps a little overreaching in its ambition. Nonetheless,
what do you think life has as a meaning? What do you think the meaning of life is?
My life, if you're asking me about MY life and the meaning of MY life...
..it's been absolutely wonderful.
I've had the most wonderful time,
I've had a lovely family, I've had a loving wife.
I've had...success in the material world.
I've done something I wanted to do.
I've had an ideal life.
So, I can only tell you what it means to me, which is happiness.
You're overreaching feeling, then, would be one of gratitude?
But not to anybody or anything in particular?
You could say fate.
Yes, but I can't believe that...
somebody out there, beyond the clouds, particularly picked me out to have a good time.
In the end, did you decide that you do not believe in God or otherwise?
Yeah, I don't believe in God. I don't believe in heaven and I don't believe in hell.
I know it's arrogant, as I said before, better men than me have believed in God,
far more intelligent people than me, but at this stage of my life, let me put it that way,
that I don't... I can't accept the logic.
OK, last question.
Suppose it's all true,
what the Js told you at the Crescent and Belevedere,
suppose it's all absolutely true, and they were right, and you get up there to wherever,
when you made that great Director-General in the sky,
what will you say to him?
I'll look around a bit and I think I'll say...
.."Where am I?"
"You're having me on!
"I don't believe this!"
But I'll take it if it's there.
Won't we all, dear, won't we all!
It's up for discussion - there may be no heaven, there may be no hell -
but somewhere in between the two here in Dublin,
there is a kind of immortality, if you're famous enough...
the city is full of statues.
They celebrate most of Ireland's good and great, but most of them
have been given rhyming nicknames of such rudeness I couldn't possibly disclose them here.
So, Oscar Wilde is the...
"person" on the crag.
James Joyce is the... "person" with the stick.
And Molly Malone is the "person" with the cart.
The Irish put you on a pedestal only to knock you off.
'But they can bide their time before they erect one of me, thank you very much.
'Besides, I can't think of anything too rude rhyming with microphone. Can you?'
'The people of Ireland have always been its most important resource.
'They've also been the country's main export.
'The thing about the Irish is that, whether they are in Chicago or Riga or London,
'they remain Irish to the core.
'And the ones that have stayed in the old country
'have helped redefine and strengthen the culture.
'Ireland and Irishness are probably one of the world's best-known national identities.'
Because of centuries of emigration, there are about 80 million people
around the world who can claim an Irish birthright.
That makes us one of the most widely dispersed nations throughout the globe.
Which reminds me, the other thing about the Irish is that every so often, they do like to come home.
This is Phoenix Park, Dublin -
probably the biggest walled park in Europe.
Five square miles of grass and trees, and in the middle of it, Aras an Uachtarain,
which is Gaelic for the Presidential Palace where the President of Ireland sits.
In that top left-hand window, you'll see a light.
That's a permanent light.
That's a light to welcome back
the millions of Irish who have left this country.
As I have done myself
and as I have to do again.
OK, Dave, take us away.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Terry Wogan reaches the halfway mark in the odyssey around his homeland. He has travelled the southern half of the Republic, from Dublin round to Limerick, where he grew up. Now it's the turn of the north, much of which is quite literally a different country. After sharing memories of his buttoned-up childhood holidays in Galway and witnessing a seismic shift in Catholic prudery when 180 Irish ladies throw off all their clothes and take a 'Dip in the Nip' for charity, Terry heads for the border.
As he crosses into Northern Ireland he recalls the watchtowers and armed security. Now all that gives the border away is a subtle change in the texture of the road surface. More than a decade after the Peace Agreement, Terry finds reasons to be cheerful here, with football replacing fighting in the notorious Creggan housing estate, a Peace Bridge hoping to bring Protestants and Catholics together in Derry and a London Docklands-style transformation of the famous shipyards in Belfast where the Titanic was built.
Back in Dublin, Terry remembers the intermission act in the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest - the now global Riverdance phenomenon. 1994 also marked the beginning of the Celtic Tiger, an unprecedented economic boom which the Irish thought would never end. Instead, the world-wide economic collapse has dealt Ireland a body blow.