Irish witchcraft programme to set the scene for Halloween

Irish witchcraft programme to set the scene for Halloween

A NEW BBC Gaeilge series explores why many people, mostly women, were targeted during the witch hunts that swept across Europe. It questions the role of the patriarchal society and the religious beliefs of the day.

With Halloween around the corner BBC Gaeilge looks at three notorious tales of witchcraft in Co. Antrim examining the case against the accused. While witch hunts in Ireland were rare in comparison to other European countries, some Scottish settlers, arriving on these shores from the 1600s, brought with them their fears and prejudices and a belief in witchcraft.

At the time, Scotland was gripped by wave after wave of witch panics.

An Diabhal Inti (The Devil’s In Her), made for BBC Gaeilge and TG4 by Lagan Media Productions with support from Northern Ireland Screen’s Irish Language Broadcast Fund and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, is set against the backdrop of the witch hunts that were taking place across Europe spanning two centuries.

A scene from An Diabhal Inti.

The three-part series, written and directed by Irish-Australian Paula Kehoe, starts on Sunday, October 16 at 10.00pm on BBC Two Northern Ireland – with all three episodes available on BBC iPlayer.

The programme hears from historians, writers and academics. They explore how the societal, political and religious views of the time could result in terrible consequences for those women who were accused. What were the reasons that a woman could be branded a witch?

It also questions why the witch hunts weren’t as common in Ireland as in other countries at the time. The Islandmagee Witches, the biggest, and last, witch trial in the history of Ireland is one of the three cases examined.

There is also the case of Mary Butters, the Carnmoney Witch and the harrowing story of the unnamed woman who would suffer a horrendous death after being accused by a young girl of casting a spell on her. With dramatisations by renowned actor Olwen Fouéré, dancer and choreographer Aoife McAtamney and featuring newcomer Ailbhe Drimbarean, the series re-examines the idea how a woman at the time could be cast as a witch.

As Paula Kehoe puts it:

“Witch trials were rare in Ireland, a culture where ancient beliefs in powerful female archetypes remained. An Diabhal Inti explores witchcraft accusations in Ireland, the religious beliefs and social conditions that underpinned them, and tells the stories of those who were persecuted.”

An Diabhal Inti starts on BBC Two Northern Ireland on Sunday, October 16 at 10.00pm