Vocal Chords

Vocal Chords is a five part music documentary series for The Lyric Feature on RTÉ lyric fm presented by one of Ireland’s most acclaimed sean-nós singers Iarla Ó Lionáird.  In a global exploration Iarla explores the question whether singing is mankind’s primary means of communication and why we sing in both times of joy and sorrow.  In a vocal landscape from the sean nós tradition in Ireland, to the Zulu Mbube music of South Africa. Iarla talks to outstanding performers like Peter Gabriel, Sinéad Ó’Connor and Maria Pomianowska to uncover the story behind song, singing and the  unique vocal styles of the world.  This series takes listeners on a rich audio experience  while addressing the simple but vital question, ‘What happens when you sing and why do we sing?’

The series runs from May 1st to May 29th 2015 2015.

You can catch up with the series on iTunes or our RSS feed.

Full six part series of Citizens: Lockout 1913-2013 now online as podcasts with additional content

Bloody Sunday 1913

A six part documentary series narrating the events that led to the landmark labour versus capital conflict in Dublin in 1913. This series that was aired on RTÉ Radio 1 during August and September, explored the leaders on both sides and questioned the legacy of Lockout 1913 for Ireland today.

Citizens: Lockout 1913-2013 brings to life a city where 100,000 people lived in one bedroom tenements and a conflict dominated by big personalities like union leader Jim Larkin and industrialist William Martin Murphy. But while Larkin’s statue dominates O’Connell Street today, the lockout was a crushing defeat for the city’s workers and in 1914 it was Murphy not Larkin who was honoured. Historian Diarmaid Ferriter, Professor of Modern Irish History at UCD, says with the Lockout ‘we tend to read history backwards’ and see 1913 through the prism of 1916. This series starts at 1900 with the visit of Queen Victoria to Dublin and the emerging labour, nationalist and suffrage movements. Its key characters are not just Larkin and Martin Murphy, but socialist James Connolly and women activists in the Women’s Workers Union including Larkin’s sister Delia and Constance Markievicz.

‘This was one where it was workers on one side and employers on the other’ says Lockout historian Padraig Yeates. ‘If Larkin’s achievement was to unite workers for better conditions, Murphy’s achievement was to unite employers, both catholic and protestant. It was a battle of personalities’.


The series features leading historians on the period including Mary Daly, James Curry, Emmet O’Connor, Felix Larkin, Leeann Lane, Lauren Arrington as well as Diarmaid Ferriter and Padraig Yeates and includes contributions from the descendants of Connolly, Larkin, Martin Murphy and Markievicz as well as dramatic readings by actors Barry McGovern, Donna Dent, Stephen Murray, Ronnie McCann and playwright Peter Sheridan. Contemporary leaders also share their views about the legacy of the Lockout including Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn, IBEC CEO Danny McCoy, General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions David Begg, Former Fine Gael cabinet Minister Gemma Hussey, SIPTU Vice-President Patricia King and Senator Ivana Bacik.


Across August  there was three live discussions on the Today with Myles Dungan programme from 10am on RTÉ Radio 1 which featured some of our key historians and authors like historians Mary Daly, Ann Matthews and author Ciaran Wallace and the descendents of the key characters from the period. The live features included short segments of the documentary series also.


Citizens: Lockout 1913-2013 is an Athena Media production for RTÉ Radio 1 made with the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

To listen back to episodes please see our RSS feed here.

Find it along with our other podcasts on iTunes here.

There is also now additional content online, click here to access it.

Herosongs: Where History and Song Meet Sundays at 7pm on RTÉ Radio 1

Herosongs is presented by Therese McIntyre


Is our connection with the past, and who we think of as heroes, best told by song rather than by history books? What makes a hero and how important has song been in shaping the popular image of that time, and that hero? And in Ireland does failure rather than triumph define heroism?

Across the centuries people in Ireland have passed on their history story through songs of heroes both political and tragic like Robert Emmet, Charles Stewart Parnell and James Connolly as well as mythical characters like Molly Malone and sporting heroes like the champion greyhound Master McGrath. Some of these songs have been handed down through the generations like ‘Mo Ghile Mear’ about Bonnie Prince Charlie while other like ‘Bold Robert Emmet’ were written long after the events in the song.

This eight part series is an Athena Media production for RTÉ Radio 1 and is presented by singer and academic Therese McIntyre, who traces the journey of ballads from the 16th century to today and explores how they shape or distort our understanding of history, real events and real people like Henry Joy McCracken in 1798 or Jim Larkin in 1913. In the series we hear from historians including Diarmaid Ferriter, Kevin Whelan, Eunan O’Halpin, Mike Cronin, and Lillis O’Laoire, retired musicologist and song collector John Moulden and traditional music experts Nicholas Carolan and Grace Toland from the Irish Traditional Music Archive. Therese is joined by singers Iarla Ó Lionáird, Nóirín Ní Riain, Frances Black, Niamh Parsons and composer Eric Bogle who share their own relationship with history, song and these sung heroes.

Herosongs presenter Therese McIntyre originally from Detroit in the US came to Ireland in 1996 to pursue independent studies of the various aspects of Irish traditional culture – music, song, and dance – with a particular focus on the song tradition. In 2009, Thérèse was awarded an Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Science (IRCHSS) Scholarship. Her PhD, which commenced in October 2009, is titled ‘Historical ‘Fact’ versus ‘Folk’ Memory: The Creation and Representation of ‘Heroes’ in Irish Traditional Song and Ballad’.

Herosongs: Where History and Song Meets is an eight part radio series produced by Athena Media for RTE Radio 1. The series  will run weekly for 8 weeks.

The series is made with the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

Episode Three of Herosongs is to be aired this Sunday 7pm on RTÉ Radio 1. In this episode of Herosongs presenter Therese McIntyre, explores some of the songs in the traditional canon about three historical leaders, Napoleon, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Charles Stewart Parnell, often sung or lamented as loss leaders. She visits Parnell’s grave in Glasnevin Cemetery with resident historian Shane Macthomais and looks at the ballad sheet of ‘The Blackbird of Avondale’ one of two songs with the same title written about Parnell with Grace Toland in the Irish Traditional Music Archive as well her take on the song ‘My Name is Napoleon Boneparte’ also known as ‘Farwell to Paris’. Sean Nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird shares his memories of singing the song about Jacobite pretender Bonnie Prince Charlie, ‘Mo Ghile Mear’ as a young boy; “I started singing it with the choir when Sean O’Riada was still alive so I’ve had a long relationship with it” and we also hear from history lecturer Maura Cronin of Mary Immaculate College Limerick and Terry Moylan author of ‘The Age of Revolution in the Irish Song Tradition 1776-1815’, about the life of Bonnie Prince Charlie and Napoleon.

You can also listen back each week via our audioboo or alternatively on RTÉ.

Podcasts of the RTE Radio 1 series The Media Show now online

Brenda Power

The Media Show, presented by Brenda Power, returned to RTÉ Radio 1 on Saturday 6 April at 7.30pm. The eight-part series is now in its second season, following a very well-received first run in April 2012.

Produced by Athena Media and for RTÉ Radio 1, The Media Show will see Brenda and team following key decision-makers in media both in Ireland and across the world, looking at the people behind our media and finding out how it works.

You can find all the podcasts of the aired episodes below as well as additional online content.

To listen back to the series click into our audioboo board here

The series is also available on the RTE RSS feed here or on the Athena Media RSS feed here.

Grassroots Documentary To Be Broadcast 1st January On Newstalk

Sing out with strings

Newstalk will air the hour long documentary Grassroots at 8 a.m on New Years Day. Over eight weeks radio producers Lisa Essuman and Robert Hope looked at community action projects where people are making a positive difference to society. Diverse initiatives included a drum circle in Killarney county Kerry, a community circus in Galway and the Irish Chamber Orchestra’s efforts to teach the joys of music to children across Limerick City.

The Series has been running in short form every Saturday on Shenanigans with Sile on Newstalk and the final 2 episodes will be aired on 22nd & 29th of December. For previous episodes and promos go here

Grassroots is an Athena Media Production for Newstalk 106-108fm funded through the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland Sound and Vision Scheme.

Listen to Wide Open Opera – Athena Media’s radio series and documentary for RTÉ Lyric fm

Re-Imagining Opera is a five part series for RTÉ lyric fm from Nov 19-23rd on the future of opera in Ireland. Do people think it’s an art for the rich or is it an art form being starved of resources and forcing performers abroad? What do we feel and think about opera?

The production team is being led by award winning producer Helen Shaw and the recordist is Michael Gallen, himself a talented new composer. The radio production is being supported by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and the documentary will chart the story behind Wide Open Opera and its mission to radically change the status of opera as an art form in Ireland. The new opera company is led by conductor Fergus Sheil. Athena Media previously worked with Fergus on the Opera for Carlow radio project which was shortlisted for a PPI Award in 2011.


Episode 1: When things fall apart 19/11/2012

Last year the newly formed Irish National Opera Company closed just two years after its birth was announced. Opera Ireland had been wound down to form it and by June 2011 Irish opera seemed to be in crisis. Twelve months on new roots emerged including a new opera company launched by conductor Fergus Sheil called Wide Open Opera. An Arts Council award of €600,000 supporting its first production Wagner’s Tristan & Isolde provoked debate. Should Ireland still yearn for a national company? What are the elements which will grow a unique Irish opera voice?

Episode 2: New Roots 20/11/2012

Funding opera is a challenge particularly in a deepening recession. Yet those at the heart of new opera productions are embracing the opportunities.

Episode 3: Wide Open Opera 21/11/2012
Fergus Sheil says the name of his new opera company is designed to make everyone feel opera is for them. ‘We don’t want to think outside the box – we want to break the box’ he says and charts his personal journey across opera to that decision. Does Ireland need a new company?

Episode 4: Taking on Tristan 22/11/2012

For its first production Wide Open Opera takes on Wagner’s epic classic Tristan & Isolde. It’s a life ambition for conductor Fergus Sheil but why is this opera so important? The tragic tale of the beautiful Irish princess and the Cornish war hero inspires some of the most beautiful music in Wagnerian opera but we talk to performers and musicians about why this is such a special opera and hear from someone who attended the last performance of Tristan & Isolde in Dublin some 50 years ago.

Episode 5: What next? 23/11/2012

With several major opera highlights this year including Lyric Opera’s Aida production in November following Wexford Opera Festival we explore the future of opera in Ireland. With Wide Open Opera planning new Irish opera productions and exploring how to get opera into non-traditional venues.

Wide Open Opera: Taking On Tristan is an hour long behind the scenes feature on the story of Wide Open Opera, a new opera company launched by conductor Fergus Sheil, who staged Wagners Tristan and Isolde as its first production starring the Irish soprano Miriam Murphy Isolde. The opera was performed in the Bord Gais Energy Theatre in Dublin last month and a recording of the opening night was broadcast on RTE lyric fm on November 24th at 7pm. Michael Gallen, a young composer himself, shadowed the new opera company from its first rehearsals to its final curtain call. The documentary is an Athena media production for RTE lyric fm and is made with the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. The producer is Helen Shaw and sound editing by Brendan Rehill. To listen to the full podcast of this documentary go here

Grassroots – Episode 6 aired December 15th – Galway Community Circus

In a rapidly changing society facing the pressures of recession, unemployment and hard times it’s important to celebrate the positive actions by people behind empowering projects, initiatives and ideas which inspire and lead.

Over eight weeks radio producers Lisa Essuman and Robert Hope are going out and about looking at community action projects where people are making a positive difference to society. With diverse initiatives ranging from a youth circus in Galway, to an organic community farm in Wicklow, to a community creative writers circle in Kildare, the series promises to focus on the positive actions taking place in our communities rather than the negative.


Episode 1 – 03/11/12 – Drum Dance Ireland – In Killarney, Co. Kerry we saw how rhythm and dance brings fun, joy, laughter and smiles to people with special needs. Episode podcast here

Episode 2 – 10/11/12 – Home Farm – Next Saturday we are in Co. Wicklow and we find a place where people come to learn and share home farm skills, and we meet people taking part in community gardens across the county. Episode podcast here

Episode 3 – 17/11/12 – Fáilte Isteach – In Co Meath, local woman Mary Nally is behind a new movement aimed at helping new comers to Ireland learn English and make friends. Episode Podcast here

Episode 4 – 24/11/12 – Sing Out With Strings – In Limerick City the Irish Chamber Orchestra brings the joy of music, performing and singing to school children in the cities regenerating areas. Episode podcast here

Episode 5 – 08/12/12 – Cill Dara Writers Circle – In Co. Kildare, cancer survivor Brenda Drumm has created a place where adults and young people can share story-telling and express their world in words. Episode podcast here

Episode 6 – 15/12/12 – Galway Community Circus – In Galway City for the past decade a community initiative has been using the art of the circus to bring joy and fun to young people’s lives. Episode podcast here

Episode 7 – 22/12/12 – Travellers Men’s Shed – In Dublin an initiative by Clondalkin Travellers Development Group see’s young Traveller men come together to work on bicycle mechanics. Episode promo here

Episode 8 – 29/12/12 – Jigsaw and the Galway City Youth Cafe – In Galway, a community action project see’s ‘Headstrong’ and ‘Foroige’ work side by side to support better mental health and well-being in young people. Episode promo here

Subscribe to our RSS Feed and you can hear the series via podcasts here

The series airs every Saturday on Shenanigans with Sile from November 3rd for eight weeks on Newstalk 106-108fm between 12pm – 2pm.

An Athena Media production for Newstalk supported by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

For more information go here

London 2012: Winning Women after the Games – Athena Media radio documentary for Newstalk

Irish women athletes made history at these Olympic Games. Not only did Katie Taylor win Gold but more women qualified and competed than ever before, and for the first time about half of the Irish team were women. Team Ireland made it the best Olympic Games since Melbourne in 1956 and many in the team credit Chef de Mission Sonia O’Sullivan, Olympic medal-winner, as the reason for the unique spirit of the group.

In the weeks running up to the Games Athena Media produced a series profiling some of the women athletes and their stories for Newstalk Breakfast, and in this one hour documentary producers Helen Shaw and Lisa Essuman talk to athletes including Annalise Murphy, Olive Loughnane, Natalya Coyle, Chloe Magee, Lisa Kearney, Aileen Morrison and Sycerika McMahon as well as team leader Sonia O’Sullivan about the behind the scenes stories of the Olympic Games, the highs and the lows, winners and losers, and the lessons from London 2012 for the future of sport in Ireland. The documentary was broadcast on Bank Holiday Monday, 29th October 2012 at 12pm on Newstalk 106-108fm.

An Athena Media production for Newstalk supported by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

Listen to London 2012: Winning Women after the Games, Part 1 and Part 2.

Listen to a promo for London 2012: Winning Women after the Games here.

Listen to a second promo here.

Subscribe to our Podcasts on the Athena Media RSS Feed here.

For More information go here.