Sunday 26 May 2019

Fascinating rare footage charting Ireland's fight for independence now available to view online

100 year old newsreels feature de Valera in Boston, Constance Markiervicz's return from prison, and shelling of Four Courts

Eamon De Valera
Eamon De Valera
Dublin Rebellion - IFI's Irish Independence Film Collection
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Fascinating unseen footage charting events through Ireland's fight for independence from 1900 to 1930 is now available for the Irish public to view online for free.

Over that period WWI, the Easter Rising, the War of Independence, and the Irish Civil War ravaged the country.

There is very little Irish news footage of the period, but British news agencies compiled newsreels about events in Ireland at the time, and these were show alongside their home-grown content in cinemas across the UK.

Among the highlights of the footage are the Irish crowds welcoming Countess Constance Markievicz back to Dublin after her release from prison and Michael Collins addressing a crowd following the signing of the Treaty.

Éamon de Valera can also be seen visiting Boston in 1919 and there is dramatic footage of the shelling of the Four Courts by the Irish Free State Army.

Made 100 years ago the footage has been housed in the UK and some of it has not been seen since its original broadcast.

Now, the IFI has assembled a collection of 155 newsreels to create the hugely valuable and fascinating Irish Independence Film Collection which is available to view by the public for free online via the IFI Player at

The IFI Irish Film Archive worked closely with the British Film Institute and British Pathé to create high quality digital copies of the original films.

With the help of the National Museum of Ireland and University College Cork they have managed to add even more detail about the people and events in the footage which had previously been missed by the British agencies.

Ciara Chambers, lecturer in Contemporary Film and Screen Media in University College Cork, says, "They're actually a very rich resource in telling us about film history.  They're important social documentaries telling us what people were shown or not show about the events and personalities of the day.

"Because of digitisation initiatives like this one the newsreels have a rich second life."

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