Archbishop Dermot Farrell presents papal honour to Mr Peter Dunn of the Radharc Trust

06 Jul 2021

This afternoon Archbishop Dermot Farrell presented Peter Dunn with the Papal Award, Pro-Ecclesia et Pontifice in recognition of his leadership of the Radharc Trust.  The collection of the ground-breaking Radharc series is large, comprising film and video tape formats, numbering more than 420 documentary films produced in 75 countries since 1962. 

Speaking on the occasion of the presentation of the Papal Award, Archbishop Farrell said, “Peter Dunn brought that sense of service and commitment – and faith – to his work with the Radharc Trust.  Since 1996, Peter has worked tirelessly with a steady determination to ensure that the Radharc programmes and the essential Christian values they embody should not be forgotten. 

“The Radharc Trust mission statement captures the ambition: ‘Preserving the Archive and Celebrating the Legacy.’  Peter has led the work in:

– Digital media preservation and restoration;

– Negotiating proper care of the collection with national archives and institutions; and by,

– Encouraging new talent and challenging moral thinking through screenings, film festivals and awards – The Radharc Award at the Fresh Festival and the prestigious biennial Radharc Awards. 

“Peter has also personally arranged screenings of Radharc programmes in parish halls and nursing homes, travelling around Dublin City and beyond. 

“Peter has managed funding applications and raised nearly €500,000 for the preservation of Radharc Films.

“This undertaking has been very impressive. But it is only possible because the Radharc Archive is an immeasurably valuable historical and cultural resource of national and international importance. 

“Yet, perhaps more importantly, the Radharc programmes tell a story of people of faith, in Ireland and across the world, coping with challenges and opportunities – always motivated by religious values.  Indeed, we would do well to learn from those stories in the programmes.  The circumstances of today may be different, personalities may have changed but the enduring Christian message of these stories must not be forgotten.

‘But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. … And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.’” (Corinthians 13)

Archbishop Farrell concluded, “Peter Dunn knows this.  And we see these values of faith, hope and love, in Peter.  His commitment to his faith and service to the Church is an inspiration to all who meet him. 

“For all these reasons, it gives me the greatest of pleasure to present to Peter Dunn the Papal Award Pro-Ecclesia et Pontifice.”


Notes for Editors

  • Archbishop Dermot Farrell is Archbishop of Dublin.
  • Pro-Ecclesia et Pontifice” [For Church and the Pontiff] is a papal award honouring a person’s contribution to the work of the Church at a diocesan and/or at a national level. 
  • About Radharc

The Radharc television series was an experimental, innovative, impactful, provocative religious affairs programme on RTÉ from 1962 to 1996. 

It was led by a small group of talented Dublin priests including Joe Dunn, Des Forristal, Peter Lemass, Con O’Keeffe, Billy Fitzgerald and Dermod McCarthy.

Radharc was never formally part of the Dublin Archdiocese nor was it part of RTÉ. It operated as a Charitable Trust, with a religious education brief. 

Father Joe Dunn was a pioneer in religious affairs television.  Joe often thought of Radharc as part of a loyal opposition; Radharc programmes could offer alternative viewpoints – but only in a spirit of constructive criticism of the Church he clearly loved. 

Father Joe stayed with the project until his rather sudden illness and death in 1996.  It meant the end of Radharc programmes on RTÉ, but not the end of the Radharc Trust. 

Father Joe’s brother, Peter, then took charge of the Radharc Trust.  Leading the Radharc Trust so successfully was only possible because of Peter’s gentle and conscientious character – and his faith.  Since 1996, Peter has worked tirelessly with a steady determination to ensure that the Radharc programmes and the essential Christian values they embody should not be forgotten. 

The prestigious biennial Radharc Awards are now a mainstay on the Irish media calendar. 

For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long +353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm +353 (0) 87 310 4444.