On the 27th, 28th,
and 29th December,1881, 13 families were evicted from their homes in
the village of Carrowmenagh, Co. Donegal.
Not able to pay the rent, mothers,
fathers, children and grandparents were all flung out from their simple
cottages or long houses onto the road by agents of the landlord. Some found refuge with relatives locally,
others left for America. Evictions like these were common in Ireland from
Famine times right up to Independence and even today eviction, losing your
home, is still highly emotive and a most traumatic event in anyone’s life.
The Challenge of 1881 or DÚSHLÁN
1881 – is to bring this history to life. Two families live for 3 days and 3 nights as
their ancestors would have lived in the late 19th century. We tell the story of
eviction through their experiences.
For this series – we have
traced descendants of the original evictees and one family – the McLaughlin’s
return from America to take up this unique challenge to live in the footsteps
of their own ancestors. For some of them, it’s their first ever visit to
Ireland. For all of them it is an emotional reconnection with their family’s
The other family, Muintir
John Ghráinne have a shorter journey, travelling only from Rann na Feirste, but
nevertheless, they typify the hardy families who were forced onto poorer land,
an internal migration which so often has been forgotten. Those made landless and displaced within the
country often had to find alternative ways of earning what was a subsistence
living. Muintir Uí Ghráinne want to
explore their own family history and honour the resilience and ingenuity of
popular Donegal broadcaster, Rónán Mac Aodha Bhuí, and filmed at The Ulster
American Folk Park, Dúshlán 1881: Living
The Eviction is scheduled to broadcast on RTÉ One as a landmark series of
Seachtain Na Gaeilge and is part funded by the Irish Language Broadcast Fund.
Experts from a
range of disciplines from across Ireland specialising in 19th
Century history, provide the context of the evictions, trace the history of the
families and how they would have lived at the time. They provide the historical narrative to
the lived experiences of our 21st Century families living the lives
of their 19th Century great, great, great grandparents. This unique primetime
Irish language series will tell the amazing story of one village and its
inhabitants whose descendants return for the most challenging and rewarding
experience of their lives.
Directed by IFTA award winner, Cathal Watters. Produced by Bernadette Morris.
Producers, Jane Kelly and Philip McGovern.
Funded by RTÉ and ILBF