Still from British Pathe's footage "No One Can Insult Our Flag (1920)" Photo by: British Pathe

Snapshots of Irish history from British Pathe news (VIDEOS)


Still from British Pathe's footage "No One Can Insult Our Flag (1920)" Photo by: British Pathe

The recently released British Pathé news footage gives the world a glimpse into the relatively recent (but often forgotten) past of Ireland and the world.

Several clips feature extraordinary footage of Michael Collins, campaigning and as Chief of Staff of the new Irish Army and speaking at a mass meeting.

One of the oldest newsreel film companies in the world, Pathé’s stylized clips were often shown in cinemas, right up until the 1970s. 90,000 historic clips, including the 1937 Hindenburg airship disaster and Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953 are free to view online.

Dozens of Irish-related clips are included in the collection, with footage of Irish sporting highlights and many events from the country’s first years of independence from Great Britain.

Here are just some of the snapshots of Ireland’s history this amazing news archive has provided:

No One Can Insult Our Flag (1920):

Description: “Dungarvan, Waterford, Southern Ireland (Eire, Republic of Ireland).

“Intertitle: "NO ONE CAN INSULT OUR FLAG. Sinn Feiners – who had on Armistice Day, of all days, – torn down the Union Jack – were made to parade the village and re-hoist it."

“L/S of an empty town square, armed 'black and tans' escort two men carrying a large Union Jack.”

Irish Free State Treaty Signed (1921):

Description: “Irish Free State Treaty Signed (1921). A Day that Shook the World. In late 1921, the Irish Free State Treaty is signed, establishing Ireland as a Dominion within the British Empire. Strictly speaking the Irish Free State treaty was signed on the 6th December 1921, not the 7th.

“'A Day That Shook The World' is the classic series that recalls the days of the 20th century that proved to be era-defining and pivotal in the course of modern history.”

Great Cork Treaty (1922):

Described as "Great Cork Treaty Meeting. Mr. Michael Collins receives enthusiastic reception from the huge gathering despite salvoes of shots from a few malcontents."

In Memory Of Michael Collins (1922):


“Intertitle reads: "The genial personality of Michael Collins made him loved." L/S of Michael Collins amongst crowds of people, he pats small boy on head as he walks past. M/S of group of men standing next to Sinn Fein poster with Michael Collins' name on it. M/S of Collins standing in the ruins of his house. M/S of Collins with older gentleman (possibly his dad ?)”

Ireland's President In America (1928):

Description: “Full titles read: "Ireland's President in America – President Cosgrave... well guarded on all sides... has cordial reception on arrival in New York."”

Ireland 1; England 1 (1956):

Description: “Windsor Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

“Start of the international football [soccer] game between Ireland and England…

“Lucky England. Final score – England 1, Ireland 1.”

The New Cork (1927):

Description: “The New Cork. A trip through Patrick Street with its many fine buildings.”

This footage was record by camera fixed to a truck driving along St. Patrick’s Street, in Cork.

Seven years before this footage was taken many of these “fine buildings,” including the City Hall and Carnegie Library, had been burnt by the Black and Tans during Ireland’s revolution. During those seven years Ireland had won independence, descended into civil war, and was beginning to recover.

Road bowling (1957):

The script is pretty laughable but this two-minute piece on road bowling is actually worth enduring. The clip shows Bill Desmond (21) and Joe Ahern (22) playing the traditional sport.

Dublin (1970-1979):

This is a compilation of footage of Dublin streets, shots of vintage neon signs.

Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland (1972):

Description: “Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland (1972). A Day that Shook the World. On January 30, 1972, British troops shoot unarmed protesters in Northern Ireland, killing 13 civilians. It was to be known as the Bogside Massacre.


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