Wonderful Western Islanders

The Irish Independence Film Collection - The Early Irish Free State
Directed by:
Produced by:


3 mins 39 sec
Silent with English intertitles

This short documentary depicts the lives of the inhabitants of the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway in 1924.

This short film, made about ten years before Flaherty’s epic Man of Aran, is probably the earliest surviving film of the islands. It presents a multi-faceted portrait of island life showing locals going about their daily routines: cattle are tied to a curragh and rowed out to a waiting steamship; islanders are photographed by visitors to the island; island men participate in the game of stone throwing (ag caitheamh cloch nirt).

A breath-taking sequence shows 4 islandmen roped together and scaling a rugged cliff face. These men were known as cliffmen and may have been trying to catch birds or steal their eggs. While elders are busy battling the elements and rural life, some children express delight at the visiting camera.

Aran historian Dr. Deirdre Ni Chonghaile has identified sequences on all three of the Aran Islands Inis Meáin, Inis Oírr and Inis Mór.

This film is part of The Irish Independence Film Collection – The Early Irish Free State that explores facets of Irish society after the War of Independence and up to the birth of the Irish Republic.