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Digitalised footage of architects of Irish independence made available online

Footage includes Michael Collins addressing a huge crowd following the signing of the treaty which heralded the end of British rule.

Footage of the architects of Irish independence unseen for a century has been made available online.

Easter Rising 1916 leaders Michael Collins and Eamon de Valera were among those featured in an Irish Independence Film Collection which repatriates and digitalises the priceless material.

Ireland lacked homegrown film-making during the rebellion against British rule, the subsequent War of Independence and Civil War.

The only recordings of these key events were kept abroad, often inaccessible to the public and held in British archives.

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Irish Independence Film Collection

The Irish Film Institute (IFI) transformed fragile film prints into digital copies and centralised them in Ireland for the first time.

They included Collins addressing a huge crowd following the signing of the treaty which heralded the end of British rule over 26 counties of Ireland and de Valera visiting Boston in 1919.

The material also featured the funeral procession of the founder of Sinn Fein, Arthur Griffith, in Dublin, as well as Irish crowds welcoming republican Countess Constance Markievicz after her release from prison.

It includes the visits of Queen Victoria to Dublin in 1900 and King George V and Queen Mary in 1911 as well as the funeral of republican hunger striker Terence MacSwiney in Cork in 1920.

The shelling of the historic Four Courts by the Irish Free State Army was also covered.

The IFI received funding from Ireland’s Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to create copies of the original newsreels.

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Irish Independence Film Collection

Minister for the Irish language, Gaeltacht, and the Islands Joe McHugh TD, said: “Much of the footage being revealed here today has not been accessible or seen in public since its initial distribution and broadcast in cinemas a century ago.

“These hidden gems and rare glimpses into life during some of the most historic and turbulent times on our island’s history are now being repatriated, preserved and re-published for us all to share.

“We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to all those involved in progressing this project to date and we wish them well in their endeavours in completing the final phase of the work to complete the project.”

IFI director Ross Keane said the Collection related to one of the most pivotal periods in Irish history and it was critically important to bring this material back home, gathering it all together in the one place and sharing it with the world, free of charge, on the IFI Player.

“The value of this moving image material cannot be overstated.”

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