ifta events

site search


Cathal O'Shannon

cathal o'shannon - a life in television

an exclusive ifta tribute event

Camera View images and video from this event in the IFTA gallery


22 September 2010, 12.30pm

The Conrad Hotel, Dublin 2

All seating is unreserved

Contact info:
+ 353 1 6624120

The Irish Film and Television Academy is delighted to announce details of Cathal O'Shannon - A Life In Television - an intimate IFTA Tribute event.

Cathal is one of Ireland's national treasures and most highly regarded broadcast journalists of our time. His work has always spoken to the Irish people with a certainty, clarity and a wit, seldom found in modern television.

The Academy is proud to have this opportunity to officially acknowledge and celebrate Cathal's incredibly vibrant Life in Television with an important repertoire of work; his journey from the Irish Times to RTÉ with Broadsheet and Newsbeat; his time with the BBC on Tonight; his infamous interview - Muhammad Ali v Cathal O'Shannon; and his superb award winning documentaries Even The Olives are Bleeding, Emmet Dalton Remembers and series such as Thou Shalt Not Kill and Hidden History - a legacy of work that reveals Cathal's dedication to getting to the truth of the matter.

We have no doubt that Cathal will savour this special lunchtime tribute from his Academy peers, friends and colleagues. It is an indication of the high regard the Irish industry and community has for his work and the personality of the man himself.

About Cathal O'Shannon

Cathal began his career in journalism whilst stationed in Burma as a serving member of the RAF at the young age of 16.

Upon his return home, O'Shannon joined the Irish Times as a cadet reporter, where he stayed for many years. It was whilst working in the Fleet St London office of The Irish Times that O'Shannon met his much loved wife Patsy Dyke. After their honeymoon, they returned to Dublin where Cathal continued to gain the experience and understanding which would eventually lead him to be selected as a presenter for the fledgling RTE's magazine programme Broadsheet. His work on Broadsheet gave him the contacts needed to join the BBC Production Tonight in 1964. Cathal travelled the globe as part of his work, returning to Dublin when the show was cancelled. He returned to RTE to work on Newsbeat, a magazine style programme which took Cathal and the production team across Ireland in search of quirky and interesting stories on fairy trees, cock fighting and the search for the Lough Ness Monster. Few will forget the story of Margaret Kildysart of Muggally Hall, the 'erotic lady novelist' celebrated by the programme in an elaborate April's Fool Day joke which many in the country took to be true at the time.

It was at RTE in 1972 that he conducted one of the biggest interviews in the history of Irish television, when he interviewed Muhammad Ali for 52 minutes in front of a studio audience. Billed as 'Muhammad Ali v Cathal O'Shannon'.
O'Shannon has made a number of historical documentaries which proved both entertaining and thought provoking. The Jacobs award winning Even The Olives are Bleeding focused on the Irish involvement on both sides in the Spanish Civil War whilst the landmark documentary about General Emmet Dalton, Emmet Dalton Remembers, focused on a major in the British Army who had won a Military Cross fighting at the Somme, and subsequently returned to Ireland to become one of Michael Collins's right hand men. This documentary also won plaudits at the 1978 Jacobs Awards for O'Shannon's 'sympathetic interviewing style'.

Thou Shalt Not Kill, which revisited thirteen of Ireland's most chilling murders, was one of the most popular RTE documentary series ever made and one of the highlights of O'Shannon's career. Having covered many of the cases examined in the series during his tenure with The Irish Times, Cathal was familiar with the details of several of the murders and so was well equipped to bring long forgotten cases back to the public consciousness once more.

Although best-known for presenting documentaries on Irish history, Cathal spent time working on Bon Voyage in the 1990's - a travel programme which saw him travel far and wide in search of the ideal holiday experience. More recently he has worked on the Hidden History series, namely Who Was Gunner Mason and Ireland's Nazis, a fascinating look at a hidden side of Irish life in the aftermath of the Second World War where an unsuspecting Irish public gave safe haven to some of the Nazi regime's most notorious collaborators and war criminals. The documentary attempted to uncover the truth behind the stories and was nominated for an IFTA in 2008.

Over the years Cathal has contributed to a vast array of programmes including The Island: Ireland from the Air, Rebellion, Townlands, Gaybo's Grumpy Men and RTE One's War Stories amongst others.

The Academy is delighted to honour and acknowledge Cathal O’Shannon for the dedication, skill, wit and creativity he has brought to each of his projects throughout a long and distinguished career.