Finnéithe Súl


From top: Don Baker; Lisa Lawlor; Úna Ní Bhroin, Seán Binder and presenter Orla O’Donnell

This afternoon.

The documentary strand Finné (‘Witness’) returns on February 2 for a fourth season to TG4.

Filmed over 12 months by Galway’s Tua Films and presented by RTÉ’s courts correspondent, Orla O’Donnell, Finné is a ‘warts and all re-telling of riveting first person testimonies’.

Deirdre Ní Choistín writes:

Finné delves deep and narrow in to one person’s story rather than giving a general overview of these events that made the news over the past 40 years. Here, we recount intimate stories of triumphs and traumas, of Davids and Goliaths, of dogged resilience and human frailties.

Week 1: Lisa Lawlor recounts how she was orphaned as a baby when her young parents died in the Stardust fire in 1981. She became known as the ‘Stardust Baby’, and in this episode, she recalls her experience of growing up as the poster girl for this tragedy that still haunts the North Dublin community of Artane to this day.

Week 2: Like many a blues man, Don Baker had a challenging upbring in the Dublin tenements of the 1960s, where he resorted to petty crime and eventually ended up in the notorious Daingean Reformatory School in Co. Offaly. He struggled with addiction throughout his life despite tremendous success as an actor and musician, but now at 70, he reflects on his career with a wisdom that only the distance of time can bring.

Week 3: In 1997, environmental activist Úna Ní Bhroin learned of Wicklow County Council’s plans to widen the road through the Glen of the Downs, and she took to living in the trees to halt the development. In 2000, she was among 12 protesters known as eco-warrios who were arrested and sent to prison for trespassing. 25 years later, Úna reflects on the campaign and whether or not it was successful in raising awareness of environmental issues in Ireland.

Week 4: Kerryman Seán Binder was arrested while working as a volunteer rescuer during the migrant crisis in Greece in 2018. Seán recounts his voluntary work on the island of Lesbos and the three months he spent in a Greek prison whilst fighting to clear his name. He is still awaiting a trial date for the charges which include money laundering, espionage and people smuggling, charges that still hang over him like a sword of Damocles…

Week 5: Rachel Moran spent 7 years from the age of 15 living and working as a prostitute on the streets of Dublin. She recalls in particular how various cultural and legislative changes drove prostitution indoors – into the hands of pimps and making the women more vulnerable to violence. Now an acclaimed writer and activist, Rachel reflects on her time on the streets, and chronicles her life-long campaign to criminalise the purchase of sex.

Week 6: Limerick man Roy Galvin grew up in Limerick’s inner city and became the first male ballet dancer in Ireland. Here, he reflects on his extraordinary career as a musician and professional ballet dancer, while also recounting his story of growing up gay in a very different Ireland.

In fairness.

Finné begins on Wednesday, February 2 on TG4 at 9.30pm.

Pics via TG4

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