TG4’s record of garnering major international awards continues with the announcement today that it has taken the most coveted of all the Torc awards at the Celtic Media Festival 2017 which ended in Douglas, Isle of Man this evening. Eoin MacNeill: Fear Dearmadta 1916 won the Spirit of the Festival Award for the best programme in a Celtic language, having already won the History award from the Festival earlier in the week.
The winning entry is a comprehensive drama-documentary portrayal of the scholar and politician who co-founded the Gaelic League in 1893. He was the author of an influential article published in the League’s newspaper, An Claidheamh Soluis, that led to the founding of the Irish Volunteers in 1913. The documentary also examines MacNeill’s reasons behind his most controversial decision when – as Chief of Staff of the Volunteers – he issued a countermanding order that attempted to stop the 1916 Easter Rising. In the programme pivotal moments in this seminal phase of Irish history are brought to life through dramatic reconstruction, access to MacNeill’s unpublished memoir, interviews with key historians and the personal account of MacNeill’s grandson, former Tánaiste Michael McDowell.
The documentary was produced by independent company Doubleband Films, with financial support from the Northern Ireland Irish Language Broadcast Fund, TG4 and BBC Northern Ireland.
The Celtic Media Festival (CMF) is one of the most prestigious and long-established TV, radio and media festivals in these islands. It combines a three-day media conference that attracts broadcasters, producers, media and students with a content competition across the full range genres of content genres. Entries go through a national pre-selection phase in each country, announced in February with the winners advancing to the international Festival. (www.celticmediafestival.co.uk). This year’s Festival took place in the Isle of Man for the first time in its 38 year history.
TG4 Ardstiúrthóir Alan Esslemont, congratulated the winning entry, saying that it was clear from the outset that this would be a special programme, a unique insight into a complex character whose life and achievements left a deep mark on his country’s history “Quality content will always travel well,” he said “and this latest prize for the Eoin MacNeill portrait confirms that our colleagues in the Celtic countries recognise excellence when they see it on screen.”