Diving into 2000s queer Ireland through the RTÉ Archives

Chat show discussions on life and love, preserving the past and Pride parades gaining momentum as the noughties kicked off.


Here we are again! It’s another deep dive into the RTÉ Archives as we uncover what queer Ireland was up to in the entry of the new millennium: The 2000s. That’s hot.

As was followed in previous decades, RTÉ kept a keen eye on Ireland’s LGBTQ+ stars and culture as the community continued to create space for further discussions on what it means to be queer. The 2000s saw topics such as preserving the history of queer Ireland, and looking forward to marriage equality, gain momentum as Pride parades around the country continued to grow in numbers.

First, it’s another visit to The Late Late Show with its fresh new host Pat Kenny; Not nearly as glamorous though as the new presenter of Telly Bingo, Miss Shirley Temple Bar.

1. ‘Meet Shirley Temple Bar’, 2001

Source: RTÉ Archives

After 4 years of hosting bingo in The George, Shirley Temple Bar sits with Pat Kenny for a chat about life and her new job appearing on daytime TV as the new presenter of RTÉ’s Telly Bingo.

When asked by Pat if she had met any of her heroes, Shirley responds, “Am I the luckiest girl in Ireland right now, Pat? I just met Anne Doyle!”

2. ‘Friends of The Irish Queer Archive’, 2002

Source: RTÉ Archives

From the first recorded cases of AIDS in Ireland to the lesbian who came out on The Late Late Show, the Irish Queer Archive continues to stand as a material record of LGBTQ+ life and history in Ireland.

In this RTÉ news report from November 2002, the IQA is featured as fundraising had begun to find an official home for it; Launched in Dublin by Deputy Labour leader, Liz McManus.

In the words of Tonie Walsh, featured in the clip, “The archive is about acknowledging the existence of lesbian and gay people.”

3. Katherine Zappone And Ann Louise Gilligan’, 2006

Source: RTÉ Archives

Former Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone and her wife Dr. Ann Louise Gilligan appeared on The Late Late Show in 2006 to share their story of love and marriage.

Katherine and Ann Louise married legally in Canada in 2003, but the Irish state did not recognise their marriage at the time. On May 23 2015, Katherine proposed to Ann Louise live on air as the Yes votes for same-sex marriage became known. Ann Louise sadly passed away in 2017.

4. ‘Diversity Celebrated In Belfast’, 2008

Source: RTÉ Archives

Over 5,000 people marched in Belfast’s Pride parade in August 2008, a huge increase in numbers since the first parade in 1991 when just 100 people were involved.

Some controversial comments made by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP Iris Robinson regarding the LGBTQ+ community were reinforced by groups of protesters on the sidelines of the parade. While there were some heated exchanges between those celebrating and those protesting, no trouble occurred.

Belfast’s Pride parade has grown even more since then with 2019’s numbers reaching 50,000 attendees.

5. ‘Always The Bridesmaid’, 2008

Source: RTÉ Archives

While the sun shone over Belfast, Dublin’s 25th Pride Parade was met with a rainy day but spirits were high as celebrations went ahead. The theme of 2008’s parade was ‘Always the Bridesmaid, Never the Bride’, as many attendants wore wedding dresses and suits signalling the lack of partnership rights for queer people in Ireland at the time.

Amy O’Keefe, of the Dublin Pride Committee, appears in the clip saying that the parade serves to highlight the fact that gay people are being discriminated against. “We don’t have equal rights right now and we want them.” While Shirley Temple Bar tells the reporter, “We’ve dealt with worse than rain in our day.”

Ireland made so much progress regarding queer rights and visibility through the media in the 2000s. The momentum would only continue to roll forward with seismic shifts in politics placing a global spotlight on the country in more ways than one as the next decade followed …

Looking for more luscious Reeling in the Queers material? Check out the past decades covered in our series right here: the ’70s – ’80s, the late ’80s and the ’90s.

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