#154 | A Great Bunch Of Lads? Info-tainment and the Great Man Theory of History

The Irish for chess is ficheall (wood wisdom).

A gambit is fiontar

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, or so they say. But what do we learn when we learn history? How do we interpret the change in a country like Ireland between two given dates and what to we attribute that change to?

One of the prevailing theories is that the history of the world is ultimately the biographies of great individuals; their remarkable ingredients of character allowed them to become authors of the world’s life story. The Reformation hinged on Martin Luther’s depth of personality, and the vision unique to Churchill was the decisive factor in an Allied victory in WWII.

This theory – which is robustly contested – informs the historical dramas which critically shape public understandings of historical events. Such dramas have become increasingly popular in the 21st century as more and more TV shows and films have monarchs and presidents as protagonists. Are these contributions welcome? Isn’t there a big difference between learning about diplomatic immunity from Lethal Weapon II and learning modern British history from The Crown?

In today’s episode, Darach, Peadar and Gearóidín consider these themes with particular reference to Irish history and the speculation on what might have been if certain figures had not been taken from us so young.

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