The Almanac of Ireland returns with second volume to find and document country’s oldest stories

Irish language scholar Manchán Magan aims to preserve Ireland’s oral history and heritage through podcasting

Credit: Aenghus Mac Eochagáin for Aniar TV

Writer and documentary maker Manchán Magan has announced a second series of The Almanac of Ireland, following the success of volume one. 

The series investigates conundrums and wonders of Ireland, like how the Irish were able to make a cheese hard enough to kill a mythical queen, or how an urban pond becomes a multi-dimensional wonderland. From exploring gateways to the Celtic underworld to unveiling the cosmic origins of Cú Chulainn, Magan and producer Colette Kinsella delve into the heart of Ireland’s storytelling culture, speaking with local experts to preserve a new record of oral history.

The series will be produced by Red Hare Media - an award-winning independent radio producer whose other work includes educational podcasts Language Bites and The Critter Shed - and will air first on RTÉ Radio 1 on Sunday 16 July at 6.30pm. The 25 new episodes will also be made available across all podcasting platforms from June 25th.

Manchán Magan is an Irish language and culture scholar with a passion for natural history and linguistic preservation in Ireland. He has previously written several travel books on Africa, India and South America along with two novels. He occasionally contributes to The Irish TImes travel and culture section.

“I love the fact that The Almanac of Ireland exists because it means that whenever I hear a rumour of some aspect of Irish life, history or heritage that catches my attention I know that I have a medium through which to explore it further,”Magan said.

Volume two of The Almanac of Ireland comes three years after the release of its first series in July 2020. The show was originally commissioned in 2017 by RTÉ Radio for a series of programmes for Heritage Week called Manchán's A to Z of Ireland. Following the success of the programme, RTÉ, with funding from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, agreed to commission a follow-up podcast.

“It was the ultimate commission as we were free to cover anything we wished as long as it had some tangible, or even nebulous, link to heritage,” Magan said. “We meant to follow up with a second series straight away, but Covid delayed everything. We're now eager to share these new episodes with the world, and a bit shame-faced that it has taken us so long to produce this second series.”

“Many of the people who still know the old ways are growing older. There is only a limited amount of time for us to be able to ask them about traditional fishing practices, the field names, and the lore of holy wells,”he explained.

“We live on a tiny island, but The Almanac of Ireland hopes to suggest that it is infinite in terms of its stories and insights and lore. Behind every boulder, within every pool and hidden in the ditches are tales and testimonies that deserve to be recorded and shared.”