In contrast to a lot of other religious and broadcasting archives this is an exceptional collection. Radharc was Ireland’s most important independent documentary production unit, and outside of RTÉ this collection is Ireland’s largest of a single television series. Covering almost 40 years its value is broad. My own research looks specifically at what it tells us about Irish secularisation. However it is also a mine of information on TV history and religious history. Radharc footage is routinely used by filmmakers as a record of change in Irish culture and for scholars these hundreds of interviews with everyone from Irish travellers to theologians, from sociologists to guerrilla fighters, capture key changes in how Irish people saw the world. Given how intimate the film unit was with the Catholic Church, the access the IFI Irish Film Archive provides to these reams of personal correspondence is rather special, with none of the delays associated with some church archives.My research was carried out between 2010 and 2014 under a unique scholarship put together by the IFI Irish Film Archive, the Radharc Trust and UCD. The first two years were spent in the archive where for three days a week I would catalogue the 650 files which accompany the Radharc film collection, copying anything relevant to my research, and transferring them to the archive’s preservation vaults. The rest of my weeks were spent viewing the programmes. In 2012 I left the archive to work on my thesis and four years and three months after my first day in the archive I got my Ph.D.
This partnership between the IFI Irish Film Archive, UCD and the Radharc Trust has now successfully concluded. Radharc’s paper collection has been comprehensively catalogued and an in-depth history of one of Ireland’s longest running television series been produced. To celebrate that fact I’ve decided to put together a list of the top 10 tips for any researcher adventurous enough to take on a long-term project of this nature. Enjoy!
Matthew McAteer Ph.D.
Matthew's tips for Ph.D. researchers embarking on a project...