Irish Horizons & the Fifth Province

Sean O’Seasnain is an Irish-born former Dominican priest who is married to a Trinidadian, and is active in the K-W multicultural community. He is a rehabilitation counsellor with the Workers’ Compensation Board

Irish Horizons & the Fifth Province
December 1991 / January 1992


Irish Horizons – our very own radio program – has been on the air every Tuesday evening since July 3,1990. It is brought to you by Liam Rafferty, Stephen Todd and Sean O’Seasnain. If you have been tuning in, then you are familiar with the variety of music – from popular Irish to Irish pop, trad and rock. It’s all there.

Irish Horizons is unique in cultural broadcasting. The popularity of Irish music and the international standing of a myriad of Irish singers and musicians makes it possible to bring listeners – Irish or not – a pot pourri of musical expressions. The varieties of style and musical form in Irish and Celtic music also make it possible to produce a programme which appeals to the tastes of a wide range of interests.

Since September of this year we have gone to a new time slot: Irish Horizons now starts at 6:00 pm and goes ’til 8:00 pm every Tuesday. The station is CKWR – FM 98.7 -Canada’s first community radio station.

The first hour is hosted by Liam Rafferty. This segment of the programme is designed for easy listening. Liam, with his relaxing and modulating intonations, provides you with an ideal way to wind down after a busy day, music for dining, and information and reflections on all kinds of events.

We are calling the second hour “The Fifth Province”. This segment is hosted by Stephen Todd and Sean O’Seasnain.

The idea of the title comes from the address given by President Mary Robinson on the occasion of her inauguration at Dublin Castle. This is part of what she said:

The recent revival of an old concept of the Fifth Province expresses this emerging Ireland of tolerance and empathy.

The old Irish term for province is coicead, meaning a “fifth“, and yet, as everyone knows, there are only four geographical provinces on this island. So where is the fifth ? The Fifth Province is not anywhere here or there, north or south, east or west.  It is a place within each one of us – that place that is open to the other, that swinging door which allows us to venture out and others to venture in. Ancient legends divided Ireland into four quarters and a ‘middle’, although they differed about the location of this middle or Fifth Province. While Tara was the political centre of Ireland, tradition has it that this Fifth Province acted as a second centre, a necessary balance. If I am a symbol of anything I would like to be a symbol of this reconciling and healing Fifth Province.

Immediately following her description of the Fifth Province, the President made reference to a model of community which encompasses not only residents of the country but the vast community of Irish emigrants. Our own community in Canada consists too of descendants of Irish immigrants as well as lovers and admirers of “things” Irish. We are the Fifth Province.

The Fifth Province on Irish Horizons explores the varieties of Irishness, the unique cultural resonances of all Irish peoples – north, south, east and west. We listen to Celtic music in all its expressions. We examine Celtic spirituality, myth and magic in all its dimensions. We will ask questions, and sometimes provide answers, about Ireland’s history, and the history of the Irish, wherever they may be. Through the hosts- Sean, Stephen, guests and music – the Fifth Province will explore and formulate the aspirations of all Irish people and people who like Ireland and the Irish.