’16 Letters

Presented by Ryan Tubridy and filmed in the GPO, ’16 Letters is a major television event specially commissioned for RTE’s 1916 commemorations which sees the written words of ordinary and extraordinary people – caught up in a time of blood, sacrifice and rebellion – brought back to life … one hundred years after they were written.

’16 Letters is recorded in the beating heart of the 1916 Rising – and also the communication centre of the day – the GPO.

The stories within the letters are told using dramatic reconstruction, archive and very personal interviews with the letter writers’ descendants. The film is anchored by Ryan Tubridy who helps weave the stories together into one compelling narrative.

The film features a variety of letters written before, during and after 1916 brought together to tell a multitude of stories of that seminal year – stories of love, war, struggle and defiance.  The 75-minute film goes behind the headlines of history to hear the intimate thoughts and words of real people a century ago.

The 1916 period is also evoked through performance with songs from tenor Paul Linehan.

Unconnected with the history turning events unfolding all round them, many people struggled to maintain ordinary lives during that fateful Easter week. We hear their voices through the letters they wrote, giving us an unadulterated and non-partisan account of a nation, and a world in chaos.

There are hard stories from World War I; a love story drawn from a collection of over 100 love letters that unfold over six months of 1916; there’s an account of a child caught up in the crossfire of the week; and we hear from a Capuchin monk who bore witness not just to the Rising but also many of the executions. There’s the powerful and desperate letter to a wife from her husband condemned to death; a number of very contrasting letters from prisoners in Frongach and a taste of the many letters seeking compensation in the aftermath of the Rising.

This 75-minute production will go behind the headlines of history to emerge with an entirely fresh look at modern Ireland’s bloody birth – filmed in its very cradle, the GPO.

’16 Letters’ RTÉ One 1 x 75’ special television event

Made with the support of BAI Sound and Vision Fund and Section 481.