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Story of Ireland, The (2011)

4.2 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Story of Ireland, The (2011)

The Story Of Ireland is a five-part landmark history of Ireland presented by Fergal Keane (Wild Africa, Great Railway Journeys). Ireland is living through a significant period in its cycle of history – since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the island has been at peace. This is unprecedented in the history of modern Ireland and so seems like a perfect time to reflect on the Irish as a people and as a modern European nation. The story of Ireland is vivid, exciting and immensely varied. It is far more than the sum of old clichés and myths which set the Irish as a people who were prisoners and victims of history. This series sees Ireland as an international island which is both changed by and helps to change the world beyond her shores.

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Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Various
  • Directors: Various
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: February 21, 2012
  • Run Time: 300 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005SH65G8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,566 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Heretofore, Robert Kee's 1981 television History of Ireland was the best of its kind; however, this 2011 history produced by the BBC surpasses Kee's. If you want to know about the real Ireland from the first settlers at the end of the Ice Age circa 8,000 b.c. to the present day, this DVD will cover it all in five hours. For a really comprehensive survey of Irish history, I would also read A History of Ireland in 250 Episodes by Jonathan Bardon.
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This is a well-researched examination of the internal and external influences that eventually shaped the complicated Irish culture. I came away with a much better understanding of the events that led to the separation of Northern Ireland and the Republic as well as the reasons why they are so distinctly different today. The narration is nicely edited and easy to follow with lots of historical photos along with current footage. The several hours required to view the DVDs is time well spent prior to visiting the island.
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Identity is a funny thing. Or not. Contentious issues like religion and politics can be polarizing, as is often the case in Ireland. Irish writer and journalist Fergal Keane appropriately begins his dialogue against a stormy Irish coastline, sea crashing against rocks, with the premise that Irish identity has always been less insular and more international than commonly believed. Historically, the ocean was easier to traverse than overland journeys were; many peoples landed on the island, ultimately creating a complex cultural heritage.

"The Story of Ireland" is an intelligently written narrative, beautifully filmed, and deftly presented by Keane. Ancestors are mentioned: the Uí Néill, Brian Boru, Aoife MacMurrough, Richard De Clare (Strongbow), among others. Many if-onlys are explored: if only the Spanish and Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, had united effectively in 1601; if only the French had landed in County Cork with Wolfe Tone in 1796 ("We were near enough to throw a biscuit ashore," wrote Tone in his diary); if only Michael Collins had lived in 1922 instead of the prude-sycophant Èamon De Velara, who, as Keane points out, commiserated with the Third Reich via his condolences after Hitler finally committed suicide. Even the premise that the Irish are a defiant people is scrutinized, strong in confronting challenges from without, but then facing abuse from Church authorities. The advent of ultramontanism in the mid-19th century laid a foundation for later corruption under De Velara's government, with no division between Church and State.

Keane moves from the lyrical myth of St. Patrick, to the near past; recent ghosts haunt.
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[This set of DVDs is a companion effort to the Neil Hegarty book of the same name, which I have purchased, read, and reviewed separately. I read the book first, and then watched the series -- which meant that I'd gotten a lot more historical detail than is included in the DVDs.]

Fergal Keane is a wonderful host and guide through the five hours of this series on Ireland. The two-DVD series was produced by the BBC and RTE (the latter which is nowhere defined, but stands for "Raidió Teilifís Éireann")

Along with the printed volume, I found this series to be very helpful in giving me a broad overview of Ireland from prehistory to the present (through 2011). Given how woefully ignorant I am of Gaelic language, British and Irish history and Irish culture, this combo set gave me just the right amount of (read "dangerous" amount of) information to predicate our trip to Ireland later this year.

The DVDs allow the producers to do something the text could not: Bring in a wide variety of visual images about the topics, including places in Britain and on the Continent relevant to the story. That was very helpful.

Keane also is able to interview a large number and wide variety of scholars and experts throughout the five Episodes. I found almost all of those interviews helpful and enlightening.

My few complaints should not dissuade you from buying these DVDs. The photographer had to be enamored with water and waves. That, and shorebirds flying over water and waves. OK, I know Ireland is surrounded by water, along with all the lakes and rivers and such -- but half the time spent on proving that photographically would have brought the idea home sufficiently.
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Format: DVD
Fergal Keane starts this five part series on the history of Ireland by talking about how international it was. How it was always more 'connected' to the outside world than we may have previously thought and how it was connected to what was going on around it. How it's story cannot be merely viewed via an isolationist prism. This is a brilliant way of opening up the viewer to the nature of the story they are about to be told.

Effectively this is in many ways a straight telling of the history of Ireland from ancient times of the megalith builders through to Roman times and how Ireland has been so intertwined with that other island so nearby. And it's really Keanes ability to dispassionately discuss so much of the interaction between the isles that sit to the west of continental Europe that did so much to make this series for me. The way he shows the to-ing and fro-ing of peoples, ideas, armies and religions. Speaking on a purely personal level this is my first attempt at learning more about Irish history and I'm glad it was presented the way it was.

As time moves on the action moves more and more from the battlefield (Vikings, Normans, French and plenty of others 'had a go') to the political boardrooms and corridors of power the action does, obviously, become less thrilling from an outright excitement factor but there is a tension of a different kind as the many powers extant in Ireland jockey for position and power. The series bring us up to speed - circa 2010 or so - and at the same time as it is spending time on the political and social machinations you realise it is also taking time to discuss cultural achievements such as literature. The way the whole thing is blended together is extremely well balanced and well rendered.
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