Mary Russell
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Dylan Thomas's great word play - Under Milk Wood, commissioned by the BBC Third Programme - was written not to be read, nor to be watched but to be listened to.

Radio makes great demands on the listener. There are no printed words to refer to, no stage directions, no visuals. Everything exists in the words of the writer and in the head of the listener.

It's probably an apocryphal story but I'll tell it anyway: A little boy was asked which he preferred - radio or television.
" Radio, " he replied.
" Why, "asked his inquisitor.
" Because the scenery's much better. "

December 25 2014
On Christmas Day 2014, RTE made a programme called There’s Something About Mary in which the producer, Eithne Hand, interviewed a number of women called Mary and I was one of them. During the interview, I mentioned, en passant, that I had had an abortion – a subject that has occupied the minds of people in Ireland for a long time and continues to do so although it rarely gets discussed in everyday conversations.
The programme is about many other aspects of life - should you happen to be called Mary - so it’s interesting also from these varied points of view.
 Click on the link below and have a listen….!type=radio&rii=9%3A10356866%3A16139%3A25%2D12%2D2014%3A

The ffrench Connection
In June 2009, I travelled to Russia to make a radio programme for RTE about an aristocratic family in Simbirsk – coincidentally the birth place of Lenin.
Together with Liam O’Brien the RTE producer, I flew from Moscow to Simbirsk and returned by train – a momentous 800 mile journey very different from the train journey I made in 1989 from Moscow to Tbilisi, in Georgia, a journey that is no longer possible.

The radio programme is about two great houses, in County Galway and in Simbirsk and charts the history of the two and of the son of one and the daughter of the other whose marriage to each other failed to bring great happiness to either of them.

RTE has decided to enter this programme in two competitions, one in NYC and the other in Croatia, sponsored by the European Broadcasting Union. This latter competition celebrates research carried out on old letters, wills and manuscripts. While making the programme, I spent a lot of time in Dublin's National Library and the producer, Liam O'Brien, and myself travelled to the Russian city of Simbirsk (now Ulyanovsk) to study  a vast number of hand-written letters and other documents relating both to the ffrench family and to the Koliakoffs in Simbirsk.
We hope we win!
Click here to listen to the programme.

Below is some more of my radio work which I hope you'll enjoy listening to.

The Stars of Death Stood Over Us.
This is a programme I made for RTE with Tim Lehane as producer.It is about the beautiful but tragic Russian poet, Anna Akhmatova. ( You'll find nine books by or about her on my bookshelves.) Tune in to hear the sublime voice of Akhmatova herself, speaking one of her own poems. It's a rare opportunity to hear Akhmatova and is on vinyl, given to me by a friend in Moscow.. You'll also hear Joe Brodsky, Nobel prize-winning poet and protégée of Akhmatova. Listen to him describing her funeral cortege in Komorova and the grave-digger who was drunk and incapable.
Click here to hear the programme

The Medieval Hitchhiker
This is a play which was broadcast by the BBC and features Margery Kempe, a noisy, exuberant, obstreperous woman who travelled to Jerusalem from Norfolk in 1413, mainly on foot. She left behind her long-suffering husband, John, with whom she had fourteen children. She was gone for two whole years.
Diana Quick plays Margery with a splendid Norfolk accent - not something you hear much of nowadays. Listen to Margery being seduced by the Devil...
Click here to hear part 1.
Click here to hear part 2.

Four Roads to Jerusalem: RTE: A four-part series ( producer Dave McHugh) about four women in different centuries who made the journey to Jerusalem, each for their own reason.  They include: (click on each title to hear the sound clip)

One Bloomsday ( June 16th)  RTE ran a series of short stories created round James Joyce's Ulysses. My contribution is about the imaginary sister of Mollie, Leopold Bloom's famous wife - who was also imaginary.

Mollie I hardly knew yeh: one of a series of stories related to James Joyce. ( Producer Dave McHugh.) Click here for sound clip

The Tin Box: RTE documentary about those Irish men who fought in the First World War as members of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. At the time,  it was considered almost traitorous to join the British army with the result that few soldiers talked about their war experiences, often to the grief of those around them. Producer Peter Woods
Click here to listen

To read my short story, The Flag, which is on the same theme, Click here.

Sunday Miscellany
These are streamed by RTE and are prefaced by news items but it is possible to fast forward to the start of each Sunday Miscellany programme.

May Morning in Oxford: Every May 1, the people of Oxford celebrate the great Celtic fertility feast of Bealtaine.  Broadcast May 6. click here for Sound clip

Christmas Eve in Syria
click here for sound clip

The Man on the Pillar
click here for sound clip

The Stars of Death: 30 minute documentary about Anna Akhmatova: the great and tragic poet, the toast of St Petersburg, reviled by Lenin, loved by many. Includes Noble Prize Winner, Joe Brodsky who was her protégé. ( Producer Tim Lehane)

Quneitra: Syrian town close to the Golan Heights, captured by the Israelis and now a ghost town. click here for sound clip

How Horatio Nelson lost his head
Click here for sound clip

Huguenot Weavers in Ireland
Click here for sound clip

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