Come West along the Road: End of an Era

The longest-running ever television series on Irish traditional music will come to the end of a 20-year run on 9 September 2014 when the final programme in the current series of Siar an Bóthar will be shown on TG4 (with continuing availability for some weeks on the TG4 Player).

Nicholas Carolan

Siar an Bóthar is the Irish-language version of the RTÉ archival television series on traditional music Come West along the Road, which first began transmission in September 1994. A total of 28 series have been broadcast since in English and Irish, each of 13 parts, with footage being drawn mainly from the RTÉ Television Programme Library but also from UTV, BBC Northern Ireland, and other institutional and private sources. The resulting 364 programmes have brought contextualised historical performances by over 3,000 musicians, singers and dancers to the screen, ranging in time from 1929 to 1994. A generation of young traditional performers and new audiences have been introduced to the personalities and varied social history of the art, and older viewers brought forgotten or never-seen performances.

Both series have been researched and presented since their inception by Nicholas Carolan, Director of the Irish Traditional Music Archive in Dublin. CWAR was originally devised by Tony Mac Mahon of RTÉ, and the series have since been produced and directed by ten other RTÉ and TG4 staff members, with the essential assistance of video editors, archivists and production crews. From an initial late-night showing on RTÉ Network 2, CWAR quickly moved to a prime-time RTÉ 1 slot on Friday evenings. Its latest series had a real-time audience of up to 240,000 viewers per episode, and in addition an audience throughout the world on the RTÉ Player and the TG4 Player. Four DVDs of highlights from the series have been published by RTÉ.  They are available from RTÉ and from the ITMA online shop.