Four-part documentary series in which some well-known personalities re-trace famous Irish journeys and learn about the impact they have had on the island and its people.
Episode 2: O’Sullivan Beara & the march to oblivion
Presenter: Evelyn O’Rourke
This forced march from West Cork to Leitrim in the depths of winter is one of the last great stories of Gaelic Ireland. This wasn’t the movement of an army, rather the flight of 1,000 men, women and children running for their lives from the English and being harassed en route by the Irish. A thousand people started the journey, 35 arrived at their destination 14 days later. Over four centuries later Evelyn O’Rourke walks the route and finds that the story doesn’t end in Leitrim, but rather in the Court of Philip of Spain.
Evelyn says: ‘I set out on this journey to remind everyone of the brave and epic story of this one man, Donal Cam O’Sullivan Beare. Donal Cam was the last of the Gaelic Chieftains, and his adventures as he led his people through the countryside in the bitter cold of January 1603 is the stuff of legends. He crossed mountains, bogs and even the river Shannon in boats made at the water’s edge, all while being purused by English and Irish enemies. I am in awe of O’Sullivan Beare and his people and I loved every minute of the epic tales, stunning scenery and welcoming locals that I encountered along the way. I did it in warm, comfortable wet weather gear while Donal Cam’s people did it in bare feet in winter – it truly was a Great Irish Journey.’
Evelyn O’Rourke has been a broadcaster with RTÉ for many years and has worked on a wide range of TV and Radio programmes. She is currently a reporter and stand in presenter for RTÉ Radio 1 Arena – the daily Arts and Entertainment Show at 7pm.