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Holy Week and Easter on RTÉ

The crucified and risen Jesus, depicted in adjacent windows in St Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick.
The crucified and risen Jesus, depicted in adjacent windows in St Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick.

RTÉ will broadcast the following religious programmes on television and radio in the course of this year’s Holy Week and Easter.

Friday 12th April

The Leap of Faith (RTÉ Radio 1, 10–10.30pm)

In the week before the Jewish festival of Passover/Pesach, Michael Comyn talks to Yanky Fachler and Abigail Morris about the resurgence in anti–Semitism in Europe and a new exhibition Abigail has curated on the subject – Jews, Money, Myth – at London’s Jewish Museum. The programme will also join a vibrant procession of Sikhs celebrating their festival of Vaisakhi on the Dublin streets near their gurdwara temple in Sandymount.


Sunday 14th April: Palm Sunday

Vox Nostra with Vlad Smishkewych (RTÉ lyric fm, 7–10am)

Holy Week has a long history of beautiful music leading up to Easter Sunday. With all the solemnity of the end of the Lenten season and the hopeful sound of Eastertide music just around the corner, Vox Nostra brings the best of Holy Week music to this Sunday morning. Passover is also on this week’s calendar and a musical setting on the theme of the biblical Exodus, as well as tunes befitting the Jewish holiday of liberation, are all part of today’s programme.

Mass for Palm Sunday (RTÉ One/ RTÉ Radio 1 Extra, 11.00–11.50am)

Fr Seamus McEntee celebrates Mass with the Lucan Cascade Choir and a congregation from Dublin City University, marking the start of Holy Week and the end of  Trócaire’s Lenten campaign.

An Irish Passover (RTÉ One, 5.30–5.40pm)

Passover, or Pesach, is the Jewish festival that celebrates “the Great Escape” – the Israelites’ liberation from Egyptian slavery under Pharaoh. But can that story still speak to and inspire Jews in today’s Ireland, thousands of years and thousands of miles from the events it describes? In this short film, we discover that the themes of Exodus are still remarkably – and all too often sadly – relevant, and not just for Jews.


During Holy Week

A Living Word (Daily, Monday to Friday, RTÉ Radio 1, 6.15–6.20am)

Kevin Hargaden, a Presbyterian who now heads the Faith and Justice Centre for the Irish Jesuits, presents a series of short scripted reflections, all week, on the economics of the Gospel Passion accounts.


Thursday 18th April: Holy Thursday

Mass of the Lord’s Supper (RTÉ One, 4.40pm–5.35pm; RTÉ Radio 1 Extra, 7–7.55pm)

Fr James Eivers commemorates the Last Supper in a Mass with members of the Terenure College Community.

Friday 19th April: Good Friday

Entombed (RTÉ Radio 1, 2.30–3pm)

In the midst of a ferocious thunderstorm, Joe and Nick, two no–nonsense Irishmen, are carrying a body into a cave for burial. But their relief at getting out of the rain is short–lived, when an earthquake traps them inside the tomb. Jim Norton heads the cast of the first broadcast of new Irish playwright Brendan Devitt’s Easter drama from CTVC, directed by Paul Arnold.

Solemn Liturgy for Good Friday (RTÉ One/ RTÉ Radio 1 Extra, 3pm–4.15pm)

The Liturgy of the Passion of the Lord comes from the Chapel of St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. The Principal Celebrant is the College Rector, Fr Thomás Surlis, with music from the Maynooth College Chapel Choir, comprising students and alumni of the National Seminary,  St Patrick’s  College and the National University. Over two broadcasts on Good Friday and Holy Saturday, they will present a rich array of music from the Christian liturgical tradition, including newly–composed settings by Ó Riada, McDonagh, O’Leary and the choir’s musical director, Dr John O’Keeffe.

Searmanas na Páise (Raidio na Gaeltachta, 3–4pm)

Searmanas Aoine an Chéasta beo ó Shéipéal Naomh Gobnait, Cúil Aodha, Co. Chorcaí. (Good Friday ceremony broadcast live from the Chapel of St Gobnait, Cúil Aodha, Co. Cork).

The Lyric Concert: St Matthew Passion by J.S. Bach (RTÉ lyric fm, Friday 19th April, 7.30pm–9.30pm)

Paul Herriott presents Bach’s St Matthew Passion in a performance recorded earlier this afternoon at the National Concert Hall, with soloists joining the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ Philharmonic Choir and RTÉ Cór na nÓg, conducted by Nicholas McGegan. Easter in Ireland is traditionally marked by performances of Bach’s oratorios or ‘Passions’ – either the St John or, this year, the St Matthew. The work is a compilation from St Matthew’s gospel, with narration interspersed with chorales and arias. First performed almost 300 years ago, it’s become one of the most profound reflections on the Passion of Christ. Nicholas McGegan (conductor), James Way, tenor (Evangelist); James Newby, bass (Jesus); Daire Halpin, soprano; Claudia Huckle, alto; James Oxley, tenor; Padraic Rowan, bass (Pilate); RTÉ Philharmonic Choir; RTÉ Cór na nÓg – choral director, Mary Amond O’Brien

Creative Passions – a Leap of Faith Special for Good Friday (RTÉ Radio 1, 10–10.30pm)

Michael Comyn and guests explore how the Easter story has inspired artists, from music to film, painting to literature. 


Saturday 20th April: Holy Saturday

Easter Vigil Mass (RTÉ One / RTÉ Radio 1 Extra, 11pm–12.40am)

The Easter Vigil of the Lord’s Resurrection comes from the College Chapel of St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. The Principal Celebrant is the President of the College, the Very Rev Fr Michael Mullaney, with music, once again, from the Maynooth College Chapel Choir, directed by Dr John O’Keeffe.

Sunday 21st April: Easter Sunday

Mass for Easter Sunday (RTÉ One / RTÉ Radio 1 Extra, 9–11am)

Pope Francis celebrates Mass in St Peter’s Square, Vatican City, with commentary and translation by Lydia O’Kane.

Urbi et Orbi (RTÉ One, 11–11.25am)

Pope Francis’ Easter Message “to the city and the world” follows directly, again with commentary and translation by Lydia O’Kane.

Service for Easter Sunday (RTÉ One Television, 11.25am–12.15pm and RTÉ Radio 1 Extra / Long Wave 252, 11.00–1145am)

The Very Rev Paul Bogle, Church of Ireland Dean of Clonmacnoise, Trim Cathedral, leads Easter celebrations in the RTÉ studio with members of the St Patrick’s Cathedral community and music from the Meath Diocesan Choir.

Aifreann an Domhnaigh (Raidio na Gaeltachta, 11am–12noon

Aifreann an Domhnaigh ó Shéipéal Naomh Gobnait, Cúil Aodha, Co. Chorcaí (Sunday mass live from St Gobnait’s chapel, Cúil Aodha, Co. Cork).

Countdown to Calvary (RTÉ One, 11.55pm–12.55am)

Actor and Cambridge theology graduate Hugh Bonneville tells the story of the week that changed the world – the last days of Jesus. In a repeat of this multi award–winning RTÉ documentary, told with the narrative energy of a political thriller, Bonneville travels to Jerusalem to examine the events, characters and context of the last week of Jesus’ life: six tumultuous days that gave rise to a faith now followed by nearly a third of the world’s population.


During Easter Week

A Living Word (Daily, Monday to Friday, RTÉ Radio 1, 6.15–6.20am)

Throughout the week, Dr Anne Thurston of the Irish School of Ecumenics, offers a series of short reflections under the title: Resurrection Really?

Information kindly provided by Roger Childs, Senior Production Executive & Genre Head of Religious Programmes.

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