Friday 20 September 2019

New film recalls when kissing was crime in Blackrock

Margaret Roddy

An interview with a Glasgow woman sentenced to a month in prison for kissing her boyfriend in public on church property in Blackrock is featured among the archive films now available to view thanks to a major restoration project carried out by the Irish Film Institute.

Julia Clarke highlights the societal and gender inequalities of the time as Julia was sentenced to a month in prison by a Dundalk Court for kissing her boyfriend on church property in Blackrock, Co Louth.

In contrast, her unnamed boyfriend, who was ordered to pay a small fine to the St Vincent de Paul society, escaped a custodial sentence.

According to a news article at the time, 'the local vigilance committee was shocked and the Dundalk Justices were so scandalised that, although Miss Clarke already had returned home to Glasgow, they passed the sentence "with a view to keeping her out of the country for ever". Her unnamed boyfriend had already appeared before the Court and was ordered to pay a small fine.

Ms. Clarke was the first woman sentenced under Eamon de Valera's 'Vice Act'. In this newsreel, she doesn't appear too worried about the sentence.

Another clip with local interest features the 1960 Dundalk Autumn race meeting which took place once the harvest was in and bookies hoped to coax some easy money from the farmers of Louth, Monaghan and Meath.

Tensions rose in the fifth race where there were 8 horses running a flat race over the course of a mile. With a prize of a hundred sovereigns at stake it was the men's money that was really sweating. On the home run it's neck and neck but it's Settlement that comes in first place to the delight of some lucky punters.

These short film clips are among thousands of includes newsreels, documentaries and cinémagazines spanning a turbulent thirty year period and straddling the political and societal aspects of that time which make up the Early Irish Free State Collection

The Early Irish Free State Collection and the other 155 films of the Irish Independence Film Collection can be viewed free of charge worldwide on the IFI's online platform, the IFI Player at, and via the free IFI Player iOS app

The Argus