RTE star backs 'Great War' show fees
RTE presenter and leading historian Myles Dungan has hit back at criticism of his involvement in a nationwide tour for which local libraries are being asked to pay a fee of €3,000 to host public lectures on Irish participation in the First World War.
Mr Dungan, an adjunct professor of history at UCD and host of RTE's History Show, said he didn't see The Great War Roadshow as a commercial venture, given the costs that its organisers, TalentBase, would incur in bringing it around the country.
He was responding to criticisms levelled by another of the country's foremost authorities on the involvement of the Irish in the First World War, the historian and author of A Coward If I Return, A Hero If I Fall, Neil Richardson.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr Richardson expressed his view that the €3,000 fee the organisers of The Great War Roadshow were seeking from local authorities for the event seemed to be "a lot of money".
He said: "I feel the show appears a bit commercial and it seems a lot of money for a public education talk."
Defending the tour and its organisers, TalentBase, against those suggestions, Myles Dungan said: "Mr Richardson is entitled to his opinion, but I take leave to disagree.
"The sum being sought by TalentBase covers, I have been informed, fees for five lecturers, travel and accommodation, insurance, advertising and publicity, the purchase and/or hire of certain technical equipment and logistical support, in addition to an agency fee for the organisational work already undertaken by TalentBase."
TalentBase managing director John O'Keefe defended the €3,000 fee, describing The Great War Roadshow as "costed to be an economic 'one-stop-shop' solution for any local authority wishing to organise a commemorative event for the centenary of the Great War".
Myles Dungan said: "Although I have had no discussion with TalentBase regarding a fee for myself and my participation is subject to the approval of RTE – still pending – I assume it would be a nominal sum. I have been asked to participate because of a long track record of publication and advocacy in this area. I do not see this as a commercial venture.
"My hope is that TalentBase's initiative in facilitating this event will enable local authorities to offer a day-long series of lectures that will stimulate the already growing interest in the study of the Great War. A number of local authorities obviously agree as they have indicated their desire to stage the event."
Quite apart from his participation in the upcoming road show event, Mr Dungan's 1995 book, Irish Voices from the Great War, is to be re-issued in July of this year.