There was much talk in Ireland in the 1950’s about having an Irish Television station of our own. Towards the end of the decade definite plans began to take shape and the outline of a new television station began to emerge.
The policy of the new station was widely discussed. Should the new Authority be completely independent? What should be the attitude towards government and possible church interference?
In order to protect the interest of the Church the Archbishop of Dublin John Charles McQuaid decided to try and get a Dublin priest appointed to the new Board of the station so he sent 2 priests, Fr. Joe Dunn and Fr. Desmond Forristal to London and New York for training. However, the Director General Kevin McCourt thought otherwise and he appointed a Dominican Order priest Fr. Romuald Dodd instead. So instead of becoming religious advisors the two Dublin priests became television film makers themselves. And so, the Radharc independent documentary film company was born.
The first films were transmitted on 12th January 1062- just 12 days after the station opened on January 1st. The programme consisted on 3 short 10 minute films linked together to make a half hour programme. The films were about Croagh Patrick, the story of the Mass Rock and ‘Men’s Sodality’ – a group that swelled to a thousand members in the parish of Seam Mc Dermot Street in Dublin.
In the first 17 years, up to 1979, 145 films were made in Ireland and 25 other countries all around the world. Films such as ‘Christy Brown, My Left Foot’, ‘Honesty at the Fair’, Matt Talbot, ‘Down and out in Dublin’ and ‘Fr. Casey of Abbeyfeale’ about the Land War. Abroad they made 12 films in Africa, 9 in North America, 6 in the Philippines and 5 in Australia to mention but a few.
By the late 10970’s Radharc was firmly established as one of the most popular programmes on Irish Television. Press reports were glowing …”outstandingly successful”, “distilled television”…”brilliant documentary reporting” and so on. The programmes ranked with The Late Late Show in the audience Tam ratings charts.