19 April 2021 The Irish Film & Television Network
New Waddell Media documentary for TG4 aims to give Peig sayers the mother of all makeovers
05 Mar 2021 : News Desk
New Waddell Media documentary, Peig.
This new documentary produced by Waddell Media for TG4 will revisit Peig, her personality and her art as a storyteller reclaiming her and portraying her as she has never been before.

Described as boring, unrelenting and unintelligible, Peig’s autobiography was part of the compulsory Leaving Certificate Irish syllabus until 1995. Peig Sayers – widely considered to be the most hated woman in Irish history has tortured and tormented young students across the island for decades with her memoir, Peig.

Presenter and broadcaster Sinéad Ní Uallacháin is on a rebranding mission to give Peig the mother of all makeovers; one that will change her memory in our minds forever.  She will take the viewer on a fascinating journey to find out about the real Peig, listening to recordings of her, dipping into some comedy sketches about Peig, meeting those who love and loathe her, debunking myths and finally uncovering who the real Peig is and a legacy to be proud of. 

"I wonder what Peig would have said, if she knew that we’d still be talking about her, at length, in the year 2021?,” said presenter Sinéad Ní Uallacháin, when speaking about Peig“This woman generously shared not only her life story, but many other stories that she had collected over the years – I don’t believe the abuse she continuously receives is warranted. There are many layers to Peig, as I found out whilst making this programme," 

Produced by Waddell Media for TG4, this documentary is funding with support from Northern Ireland Screen’s Irish Language Broadcast Fund (ILBF). Evan Chamberlain features as the Producer/Director. Executive Producers are Jannine Waddell and David Cumming for Waddell Media, Áine Walsh for the ILBF, and Laura Ní Cheallaigh for TG4.

I would love to speak Irish, but I don't like Irish because of that book” is a common complaint from those who were forced to read Peig at school.  Sinéad on her journey reveals that it wasn't Peig's intention to be the subject of hatred among Irish teenagers.  Peig was in fact one of the greatest Irish storytellers, a born performer and entertainer. Máire Ní Dhálaigh, of the OPW's Blasket Centre said 'Peig was the Netflix of the time'. She was a woman full of fun and craic who loved to entertain and drew people to her.  Archive recordings revealed in the programe from the National Folklore Collection in UCD reveal a theatrical performer.  “She took her brief well,” Sinéad reacts on hearing the recordings.

Some say she was associated with the old world of piety and sainthood, an image which was inflicted upon her by the newly formed Irish state of the 20s and 30s and that the book was carefully edited to reflect one version of Peig's life. 

Áine Ní Bhreisleáin, broadcaster and podcaster of Beo ar Éigean said: "Peig didn't know that she would go viral, for many the quote from the book 'cois léi san uaigh is an chos eile ar a bruach' is a metaphor for the Gaeltacht and reflects how people perceive Irish as a dead language."  

Sinéad will meet others who want to reclaim Peig as an icon and hero, Sharon Granahan who has a tattoo of Peig and why she is her hero.  Renowned poet Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill features reading a newly composed poem for her Peig. On a more serious note the documentary will question how our relationship with Peig reflects our complex relationship with our heritage, our language and who we are. 

Peig will premiere on TG4 next Wednesday, March 10th at 9:30pm or on the TG4 player. 

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