Crossing the Borders: Irish Cultural Nationalism (Episode 3)

Crossing the Borders: Irish Cultural Nationalism (Episode 3)

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Burt, Co. Cork, Co. Donegal, Co. Galway, Co. Mayo, Dublin, Gweedore, Letterkenny, Raphoe, St Johnston, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, Westport




May 1997


23min 30sec







Digitised as part of the UTV Archive Partnership Project (ITV, Northern Ireland Screen and PRONI)


Department for Communities, ITV, Northland Films ltd, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

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Presbyterian Minister, John Dunlop crosses to the south of Ireland, examining shifting and multi-faceted notions of identity and nationhood. In his meetings and conversations with a variety of individuals, he seeks to learn about the past, present and future of those who live on the other side of the border divide.

Dunlop meets Irish Protestants and asks them to consider what it means to them to be Irish and whether or not they, "feel any Britishness inside you?"  Rev. Gillian Wharton from Dublin speaks Irish fluently, but is not so absorbed in Irish culture that she cannot appreciate other traditions. Liz Shappard, from Co. Donegal, spent time living in England and found the experience enjoyable. However, she didn't truly consider it home. She explains how, for her, home is inextricably linked to images of the Irish landscape and notions of Irish heritage. 

James Buchanan, from Burt, County Donegal feels both British and Irish and believes the two identities can harmoniously co-exist. By contrast, James Fleming believes that, in Ireland, concepts of nationality will, inevitably, be a source of conflict. His family has lived in St Johnston for 400 years but, he believes, due to his Protestant faith, he is still held in suspicion by some. Unperturbed, he proudly claims his flag flies in Dublin Castle.

An interesting perspective comes from Rev. Gary Hasting, from Westport, Co. Mayo. He sees Ireland as a country made up of many small areas, each county being distinct and discrete. Prof. Joe Lee considers the extent to which Britain has influenced Irish culture.

Padhraic O Ciadhra states that he carries his Irishness within himself, that it isn't something to be forced onto somebody. Also, introduced is the link between the Gaelic Athletics Association and the Parish, which Martin McHugh states is a positive influence, though, Fr. Brian Quinn explains that the link is less prominent today than it was in previous years. 

In conclusion and having considered the perspectives of the various contributors, Dunlop suggests that it might just be possible to be both Irish and British.



Reverend John Dunlop, is a retired former Presbyterian minister. He has been one of the most significant figures in Irish Presbyterianism, from the latter-half of the twentieth century to the present day.

Shot List

Introduction to programme.  Reverend John Dunlop [JD] on a train, discussing the drop in the number of Protestant churches in the Republic of Ireland. Interview with Professor Joe Lee, Cork historian, on the decline in Protestant people following Irish independence. Memorial to the people in the Republic of Ireland who fought in World War One / WWI. Interview with Reverend Gillian Wharton [GW], Dublin and Cork. Interview with James Buchannan, Burt, Co Donegal. Discussion on the change in Ireland following WWI and partition. Interview with Sister Geraldine Smith, Irish School of Ecumenics, Dublin, on ecumenism. Footage of children at their first communion. Interview with Victor Harper and George Harper, Kilkenny; discussion on the Irish civil war. Views of Cork city centre. Interview with Reverend John Faris, Cork; discussion on the decline of Presbyterian congregation members in the 1920’s. Discussion on different Protestant denominations. Interview with Dr Edgar Ritchie, Cork. Discussion on the Methodist community in Ireland. JD in Kilkenny centre. Interview with Reverend John Woodside, Kilkenny. Interview with Mary and Anne. Discussion on different types of Christianity. Exterior of Lucan Presbyterian Church. Interview with Reverend Dr Trevor Morrow, Lucan, Co Dublin. Discussion on preconceptions about the Presbyterian church being linked to politics and unionist beliefs. Views of a baby’s christening. Discussion on difference between Presbyterian congregations in the Republic vs Northern Ireland. Views of GW at a radio DJ booth. Discussion on inter-church marriage. Discussion on the closure of churches all over Ireland, of all denomination.


Digitised as part of the UTV Archive Partnership Project (ITV, Northern Ireland Screen and PRONI) 

A Northland Production for UTV

Presented by John Dunlop

Contributors also included: Maureen McAteer, Rev. Terence McCaughy and Judge Catherine McGuinness.



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