Ukraine. Winter 2010.

[sound wind, car driving, radio, wipers]

It’s a grey, snowy morning. A man is driving from the small village of Novi Petrivtsi to work, 15 kilometers south in Kiev. The road has been recently resurfaced and widened all the way to the capital.

The Ukraine was known for having some of the worst roads in Europe. But when the country won the bid to cohost the Euro 2012 soccer tournament, the government guaranteed that they would update the country’s road network to cater for the influx of traffic. …

03 — Darkest before the dawn

Eugenics was the idea that you could improve the human species by selectively mating people with specific desirable hereditary traits. It aimed to reduce human suffering by “breeding out” disease, disabilities and so-called undesirable characteristics from the human population. Early supporters of eugenics believed people inherited mental illness, criminal tendencies and even poverty, and that these conditions could be bred out of the gene pool.

It seemed like they were bringing back all the old hits from the Ancients Greeks and Spartans.

Eugenics literally means “good creation.” British scholar Sir Francis Galton coined the term in 1883 in his…

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02 — Two Steps Forward. One Step Back.

In the 1517, Martin Luther and his followers thought the catholic church was getting too big for its boots, too powerful. They thought the church was taking advantage of people, that it was corrupt and that a single man — The Pope, had too much influence.

The story I’m telling you, isn’t about this rift in religions belief or organisation, so I’m not going to go into the details of the Protestant Reformation but the very popular writings of Martin Luther started to influence how people with disabilities were viewed.

Luther declared that people with disabilities…

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01 — Parallel worlds.

In this episode I’ll be using outdated terminology that most of us would consider offensive today and I’ll be describing some disturbing theories and practices… so be forewarned.

Hi Im John Roche.

I’m going to give you a rough history of disability.

It should be called the history of accessibility or the history of inclusion but these concepts, are relatively new.

The story of disability runs in parallel with the story of civilisation itself.

And like the story of civilization, some of it isn’t pretty.

It involves murder,






Episode 2

Garda special branch reconnaissance report May 17th 1940

Home of Mr. Stephen Held.
Konstanz house, on the Templeogue Road 23:00 hours.

Five men in attendance.
Stephen Held (suspected IRA supporter),
James (Jim) O’Donovan (known IRA member),
Stephen Hayes (know IRA member and suspected new leader) and two other unknown men.


Inside, Goertz was getting his first introduction to the new chief of the IRA — Stephen Hayes.

So zee Germans have finally arrived!
Sean Russell said ye’d help us — — but now he’s dead! …

Episode 1

It’s 1940. The world is at war!
The Irish free state is neutral territory.

On the morning of the 5th of May in a field somewhere in Ireland, a farmhand notices a curious looking figure approaching her.

Good morning Frau.. Miss. Could I ask you one question before we proceed with our conversation?
Am I in Free State Eire or the six counties in the north

You’re in Ireland Sir!

And welcome to it.


Can you be more specific?

You’re in Ballivor… Co. Meath…

What was that?


Listen to the story here

Podcast episode transcript below:

Before we begin. Have a listen to this…

(Sound clip)

This is a recording of sound echoing around the inside of an empty nuclear power plant cooling tower. You’d recognise the massive tulip shaped concrete structures with water vapour drifting up out of their open tops. Images of the cooling towers has become synonymous with nuclear power plants.

I thought they looked scary. Now I’m standing inside one, listening to my footsteps and other peoples voices reverberate around the circular walls towering over me. But this cooling tower is empty and…

Lucy’s underwater podcast playlist

Next time you need to spend 6 hours or more underwater, these pods will pass the time down there…

Keeping the doors open (Documentary on one)

Recorded in a local pub in Cork over a period of a year I think. Voices of the owners and customers are really interesting. You get a great sense of the area and how much the people who live there love it.

The Tally Men of Tralee (Documentary on one)

This is a brilliant fly-on-the-wall look inside a community I never even knew existed.

Quiz show (this American life)

“The Battling Siki”

Based on a true story.

Dublin, St. Patrick’s Day 1923. A bloody civil war has been raging in the city for almost two years. Brothers, sisters and friends have often found themselves on opposing sides. In an attempt to restore order the new state have started executing dissidences in high numbers. Opposing forces react by calling for a compulsory period of national morning. All public amusements are to be shut down. Anyone staging or attending a public event leave themselves open to terrorist attacks by the opposition.

Sounds like the perfect time to stage a world championship boxing match…

Modern piracy and the hijacking of the Petro Ranger

A Yarn podcast story by John Roche

1. Blak Bisnis

When you think of a Pirate what do you picture in your mind?
Something like this-


Or do you think of something a bit more modern? Men in speedboats with machetes off the coast of Somalia?


You probably don’t think of pirates as wearing expensive suits and working in high rise office buildings. In the 90’s the biggest pirates of South East Asia were impossible to tell apart from high powered business people. …

Yarn - a story podcast

Whether we’re spinning yarns or unraveling them, Yarn is a storytelling podcast.

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