The Irish Film Institute has made over 1,200 minutes of domestic cinema available to the world.

Drawing on material held in the IFI Irish Film Archive, the IFI Player, a free online service, offers material dating from as far back as 1910. The viewer can enjoy newsreels, travelogues, public information films and privately shot home movies, alongside more commercial material.

No more easily accessible resource exists for enjoying moving images from so large a stretch of Irish history. Ross Keane, IFI director, commented: “The IFI Player is a ground-breaking development for the IFI, as it allows us to fulfil our mission to make our collections from the IFI Irish Film Archive available to a much broader audience base.”

Selecting the material to be digitised was no small challenge for Kasandra O’Connell, head of the archive. There are many more thousands of hours in the vaults. “There were many considerations,” O’Connell told The Irish Times.

The archive draws upon certain key portfolios. The Radharc Collection, comprising work made by the production company established by Father Joe Dunn, gets at endless social and political issues.

The Bord Fáilte Film Collection offers amusing insights into the version of Ireland we wanted to show the world in earlier decades: golf, coach trips, endless shots of tinkling waterfalls.

The sources of the footage tell their own story. A sunny film covering John F Kennedy’s visit to Ireland – “Then he went as he came, like a whisper in the dawn,” the narrator poignantly notes, just months before the President’s assassination – is presented by, of all organisations, The Columban Fathers.

“From the early material, I’d mention the earliest known Irish animation by the Horgan brothers from Youghal: The Town Hall Clock” Kasandra O’Connell notes. “They were photographers who became animators. That is from sometime in the 1910s. It’s rudimentary, but it’s the first animation we know of.”

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