Wednesday 13 December 2017

Reeling in the years to resurrect forgotten Ireland

Ken Sweeney

IT'S Ireland as recorded by the cameras from an age before TV news channels and the internet.

The opening of the first "great concentration camp" near Belfast in the 1920s.

The bombing of North Strand in Dublin by the German airforce in 1942.

The visit of President John F Kennedy to Ireland in 1963 and the glitzy marriage of singer Dickie Rock three years later.

All images were filmed in Ireland by the cameramen of British Pathe News.

One of the oldest media companies in the world, Pathe was established in Paris in the 1890s and by 1910 was producing its famous bi-weekly newsreel the 'Pathe Gazette' in Britain.

The company also boasted an Irish edition, whose archives stretch as far back as Queen Victoria's visit to Ireland in 1900.

And the cameras kept rolling through the War Of Independence, the foundation of the State, the Blueshirts, World War Two, and the swinging '60s, until the newsreels ceased with the advent of television in 1970.

Unseen for decades, these newsreels of a lost Ireland have now been digitised and can be viewed free of charge on British Pathe's website.

However, with a film archive amounting to over 3,500 hours of footage, the company has invited viewers to help them date and catalogue their clips.


"The information we have on many of our Irish clips comes from the original notes on the film can. It contained only a rough description of what's on the film," said John Gosling, business development manager with British Pathe.

Among the oddities is what Pathe News calls "scenes in the first great concentration camp" and shows republican prisoners behind barbed wire in a camp near Belfast, believed to have been filmed in 1920.

Although seemingly well- fed and in good spirits, the clips show other Sinn Fein prisoners marching with towels over their heads to avoid identification, with cinema viewers being told: "Some 'Shinners' are camera-shy!" in an onscreen caption.

On a more upbeat note is footage of showband singer Dickie Rock marrying Judy Murray in Dublin in 1966.

"I knew I'd made it when the Pathe film crew turned up.

"It meant you were going to be up on the big screen with all the movie stars," said Rock.

View the clips on :

1920s 'concentration camp'

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News