Wolfland is a new two part Irish Language Broadcast Fund series that explores our fascination and fear of the wolf. Wolfland airs on RTE One on Monday 7th January at 7.30pm and on BBC Two NI on Friday 11th January at 9pm.
There was a time when over 20,000 wolves roamed Ireland. As super predators they are a natural part of the landscape and ecosystem and are deeply embedded in many of our famous myths and legends.
In this documentary series, Dr. Éamonn Ó Ciardha looks at our complex relationship with the wolf, taking us on a hair raising journey into Ireland’s past, exploring the background to what many of us experience as an instinctive fear of the Wolf or Mac Tíre – son of the land. A land that was in increasing turmoil at the turn of the 16th century as plantation settlers began to arrive. For them, the wolf became a fearsome symbol of this wild and dangerous land.
Large-scale farming and deforestation saw the wolf rapidly losing its hunting and breeding grounds. But war, rebellion and fighting between settlers and a growing number of Irish rebels provided rich pickings for wolves – preying on livestock and scavenging on the fallen. The terrified settlers called their new home “Wolfland”.
The first programme in the series looks at the traces and tracks the wolf has left with us in Ireland, within the landscape and place names, the language, the literature and the mythology. Roaming the land for some 20,000 years the wolf was certainly feared, but also revered in Ireland. It was a creature that symbolised strength and courage to the native Irish, but to the arriving settlers from the 16th century onwards the wolf was a dark and savage creature representing all that needed tamed in Ireland.
In the second programme we look at the escalating fighting between the settlers and the Irish as mass plantations began across Ireland and the role the wolf played in the bloody warfare of the Cromwellian era. Documentary evidence is uncovered of early propaganda linking the rebel Irish, the catholic priest and the savage wolf and of a campaign to rid Ireland of all three.
Filmed across Ireland, this series is a fascinating mix of Irish history and natural history. A compelling look at the plantation era, charting the importance of the wolf in Ireland’s history and its ultimate extinction.
Wolfland is a Steadipix / Clean Slate TV production for BBC NI and RTÉ with the support from Northern Ireland Screen’s Irish Language Broadcast Fund and Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.