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The Irish Independence Film Collection

The Irish Independence Film Collection

The period 1900-1930 was one of the most turbulent in Irish history, with WW1, the Easter Rising, the War of Independence, the Irish Civil War all taking place. Due to the emergence of cine camera technology in the 1890s these three decades are the first to be widely documented on film. However Ireland’s lack of indigenous filmmaking during the early part of the last century, means the moving image record of this pivotal period in history was predominantly captured by non-Irish agencies. Newsreels of Irish events were screened alongside their home-grown stories in cinemas. In the early part of the 20th century (before the advent of television) newsreels, radio and newspapers were the predominant way for the public to keep up to date with important events.  

Until recently these Irish newsreel stories, filmed by British agencies, had not been held in an Irish Archive and many had not been available to the public since their initial distribution 100 years ago. The Decade of Commemorations presented the Irish Film Institute with a unique opportunity to create The Irish Independence Film Collection, comprising Topical budget and British Pathé newsreels, with support from the Dept of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht. As part of this project the IFI was able to repatriate, safeguard and share these important visual documents – centralising them in Ireland for the first time and making them available to the Irish public.

It was essential the IFI Irish Film Archive repatriated the best quality copy of this remarkable material, which so vividly details the political, social and cultural events that shaped the Irish State. Thus, the IFI worked closely with the custodians of these collections (the British Film Institute and British Pathé) to ensure the best preservation outcome for this material. Acutely aware of the age and fragility of these newsreels, we persuaded both organisations to go back to the original nitrate film prints and meticulously digitise them to HD Quality. The quality of the newly digitised footage is remarkable, allowing even those who may be familiar with this material to see it in a whole new light. Details which were previously indistinct are now crystal clear.

In order to add further value to the collection, we enlisted assistance from National Museum of Ireland and University College Cork. Their staff helped to curate and catalogue the content and ensure that the information presented is as accurate as possible with important events, people and locations which were originally missed by non-Irish cataloguers. As part of the national centenary celebrations the Irish Film Institute has created a project that not only celebrates this momentous period in our history but that also has lasting value for the Irish public.

Discover the Collection

Curated Playlists

An Introduction to the Collection

Ciara Chambers explains the importance of the collection and provides an introduction and commentary track for a selection of newsreels.

The Events of 1918

Lar Joye introduces his selection of key newsreels from 1918.

The Lead up to the Civil War

Lar Joye introduces his selection of key newsreels during the lead up to Irelands Civil War.

The Civil War

Lar Joye introduces his selection of key newsreels during Irelands Civil War.

Topical Budget

British Pathé

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