On the 27th, 28th, and 29th December,1881, 13 families were evicted from their homes in the village of Carrowmenagh, Co. Donegal. Not able to pay the rent, mothers, fathers, children and grandparents were all flung out from their simple cottages or long houses onto the road by agents of the landlord. Some found refuge with relatives locally, others left for America. Evictions like these were common in Ireland from Famine times right up to Independence and even today eviction, losing your home, is still highly emotive and a most traumatic event in anyone’s life.
The Challenge of 1881 or DÚSHLÁN 1881 – is to bring this history to life. Two families live for 3 days and 3 nights as their ancestors would have lived in the late 19th century. We tell the story of eviction through their experiences.
For this series – we have traced descendants of the original evictees and one family – the McLaughlin’s return from America to take up this unique challenge to live in the footsteps of their own ancestors. For some of them, it’s their first ever visit to Ireland. For all of them it is an emotional reconnection with their family’s past.
The other family, Muintir John Ghráinne have a shorter journey, travelling only from Rann na Feirste, but nevertheless, they typify the hardy families who were forced onto poorer land, an internal migration which so often has been forgotten. Those made landless and displaced within the country often had to find alternative ways of earning what was a subsistence living. Muintir Uí Ghráinne want to explore their own family history and honour the resilience and ingenuity of their forbearers.
Presented by popular Donegal broadcaster, Rónán Mac Aodha Bhuí, and filmed at The Ulster American Folk Park, Dúshlán 1881: Living The Eviction is scheduled to broadcast on RTÉ One as a landmark series of Seachtain Na Gaeilge and is part funded by the Irish Language Broadcast Fund.
Experts from a range of disciplines from across Ireland specialising in 19th Century history, provide the context of the evictions, trace the history of the families and how they would have lived at the time. They provide the historical narrative to the lived experiences of our 21st Century families living the lives of their 19th Century great, great, great grandparents. This unique primetime Irish language series will tell the amazing story of one village and its inhabitants whose descendants return for the most challenging and rewarding experience of their lives.
Filmed and Directed by IFTA award winner, Cathal Watters. Produced by Bernadette Morris.
Executive Producers, Jane Kelly and Philip McGovern. Funded by RTÉ and ILBF