The tragic story of the Carrowmenagh Evictions of December 1881 will form the backdrop of a new four part ‘living history’ television series which begins next Monday night on RTE One. “Dúshlán 1881: Living The Eviction” is being billed by RTE as its flagship programme to mark Seachtain na Gaeilge.
The series has been produced by Big Mountain productions which also used the living history format in its very successful series ‘The Tenements’ which recreated life in Dublin’s tenements.
The assistant producer for the new series is Jeanette McLaughlin from Burnfoot who came up with the idea of using the Carrowmenagh Evictions as the basis for the programmes. She knew Carrowmenagh historian John McLaughlin who has written extensively about the 1881 evictions, from her time working at Inishowen Comnmunity Radio and enlisted his help to develop the series.
John has written a hugely successful play and film about the evictions which took place between Christmas and the New Year of 1881, when 13 local families who couldn’t pay their rent were evicted by the absentee landlord Hector Frederick McNeill.
Two families feature in the new TV series which was filmed last December and January at the Ulster American Folk Park, one from America representing those who left Inishowen after the evictions and one from Ranafast who represent the families who were forced to move to less arable lands which the landlords didn’t want. The two families lived for three days and three nights as their Inishowen ancestors would have lived at the time of the evictions. The American family who
took part have strong Carrowmenagh connections as they include nephews and nieces of John’s late wife Anne and participating was emotional for them as they were recreating their own family history.
As well as acting as an adviser for the series, John A. McLaughlin is also among those interviewed on it and he is delighted that the story of the Carrowmeagh Evictions has now been televised.
“Dushlan 1881: Living The Eviction” begins next Monday night on RTE 1 at 7.30pm and will continue on Friday, March 15th at 8.30pm, Monday, March 18th at 7.30pm and Friday, March 22nd at 8.30pm.