Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume was voted the greatest person in Irish history by a massive public vote on the top rated ‘Late Late Show’ program.
Hume , 73, from Derry, is the former leader of the SDLP party in Northern Ireland. He is Ireland’s Martin Luther King figure who was inspired by his non-violence message and went on to play a huge role in the Irish peace process that brought a stable peace to Northern Ireland. He won a Nobel Prize for his work
The final five figures were Michael Collins, James Connolly, Bono, Mary Robinson and John Hume. These five were selected by an initial public vote from a list of 40 Irish figures who topped a national survey.
Over the past five weeks the five shortlisted figures have been profiled in a series of documentaries created by RTE (Ireland’s national broadcaster). Each documentary was presented by a different Irish public figure who championed one of the five shortlisted Irish great. Former Progressive Democrats leader Michael McDowell took on Michael Collins, for RTÉ’s Joe Duffy it was James Connolly, Irish radio personality Dave Fanning spoke about Bono, economist David McWilliams championed Mary Robinson and presenter Miriam O’Callaghan spoke for John Hume.
The shortlist cause quite a public debate surrounding the lack of historic figures on the list. Historian Tim Pat Coogan questioned why Michael Davitt, Charles Stewart Parnell, Daniel O’Connell and James Joyce were not on the shortlist.
Diarmaid Ferriter, a University College of Dublin history professor also questioned the absence of James Joyce, WB Yeats, Samual Becket and Bernard Shaw from the list. He questioned how any historian could take the poll seriously.
Controversial and irritating as some might have found the TV show and the poll, an average of 318,400 people tuned in to watch the documentaries.
The history behind “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”