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The GPO building in Dublin - Scene of the 1916 Easter Rising

Made in Manchester has produced a one-off documentary for BBC Radio 4 about a unique collection of letters brought together in Ireland to mark the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising.

In the programme, Irish Times journalist Fintan O’Toole takes a look at some of the 2,000 letters crowdsourced by Susan Schreibman and her team at Maynooth University in County Kildare.

Presenter Fintan O'Toole

Producer Ashley Byrne says: ‘The correspondence paints a unique portrait of Irish people coming to terms with monumental events but, at the same time, getting on with everyday life. This isn’t the Ireland of 1916 as seen through the history books – it’s the Ireland of 1916 seen through the writings of the people as they lived it.

There are love letters penned by a couple starting a romance amid the backdrop of the troubles in Dublin, there are letters from soldiers on the Western Front confused at the events back home, there are lost letters and there are last letters from people eventually condemned for their part in the Rising.’

It was a time when letter writing was at its height. But with the main Dublin post office building at the centre of the Easter Rising, there was a temporary hiatus and some post couldn’t be sent for days. As a result, people turned their letters into diaries as they added to their correspondence with updates on events as they happened.

Postcards also took an interesting turn following the Easter Rising. Suddenly photographs of the mayhem were being sent around the world – a bit like Twitter or Instagram today.

A typical 1916 rebel flag

Meanwhile, we discover, life went on. Soldiers worried about the welfare of their children back home and George Bernard Shaw was at the height of his playwrighting fame.

You can hear the programme via the BBC iplayer here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b074vx8y

The letters were sourced from the Letters of 1916 project and there are thousands of more letters to be found at letters1916.ie

First World War Prime Minister David Lloyd George

Broadcaster and historian Dan Snow is to present an examination of the role his great, great grandfather David Lloyd George played in the First World War in a 3 part series for the BBC produced by Made in Manchester in association with LJD Productions, Cardiff.

Dan Snow

David Lloyd George was the last Liberal to be Prime Minister and took Britain and its then Empire to victory over the Germans in 1918.

Lloyd George’s War charts how Dan’s great, great grandfather went from being ‘anti war’ to become Britain’s biggest recruiting sergeant – persuading millions of men to sign up to fight and rallying millions of women to work in the munitions factories. His sparkling oratory won over a generation and he gradually became the most important figure in the wartime Government. By December 1916 he was Prime Minister and by November 1918 he was being hailed a hero and ‘the man who won the war’ all over the world.

Producer Ashley Byrne says: ‘People think of Winston Churchill and the Second World War but rarely talk about Lloyd George and the First World War. Yet arguably he had a more difficult war. We’d never fought a war like it.

‘Lloyd George also had to deal with the Easter Rising in Ireland, the Russian revolution and trouble in the Middle East. The decisions he made 100 years ago – good or bad – are still being felt today. To tell the history of the modern world you really can’t do it properly without mentioning David Lloyd George,’ Ashley adds.’

The series also looks at Lloyd George’s influence on a young Winston Churchill, on his clash with the Generals and at how in his memoirs, published years later, he appeared to regret the conflict which killed so many people.

‘When LG died,’ says Ashley ‘Winston Churchill called him the Greatest Welshman since the Tudors.

As part of the programme Dan looks through his great, great grandfathers papers and letters and tries to assess why he made the decisions he did.

Dyfan Rees brings to life the voice of Lloyd George

The programme sees Pobol Y Cwm actor Dyfan Rees (who recently won a mental health award for his portrayal of someone with OCD) plays David Lloyd George and veteran character actor Christopher Strauli (Edward VII and Only When I Laugh) is Winston Churchill.

Actor Christopher Strauli

Lloyd George’s War begins at 6.30pm on BBC Radio Wales (December 3rd) with Episode 2 and 3 on the 9th and 16th December. The programme can also be heard via the BBC iplayer Radio app. It includes a special title theme composed by the musician Rebecca Applin.

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