An old American cinema movie portraying ‘wild Irishmen’ playing hurling has been uncovered by a digital media scholar at NUI Galway.
Dr Seán Crosson, director of the Huston School of Film and Digital Media at NUI, Galway, found the humorous movies while investigating how GAA was portrayed in Hollywood. His search ultimately led him to an archive at the University of Madison where he uncovered the discovered films.
The hurling films were in fact two episodes of Sport Slants and Sport Thrills produced by Warner Bros and narrated by celebrated commentator Ted Husing.
The first episode, which was shot in 1931, shows rare footage of a team visit by then All Ireland Hurling champions Tipperary to New York, where they competed in an exhibiton game. The second, from 1932, features the unlikely combination of moose hunting in Wyoming and images of hurling matches played between various New York GAA club teams.
Another uncovered movie was Hurling made by Metro Goldwyn Mayer in 1936 which promised audiences thrills “each time a wild Irishman’s skull shatters.”
The film scholar described the movies as “of historic importance in charting the course of the Irish American identity”. He said that it was evident from the way in which the Irish were depicted in the films that they were viewed as “wild” and “dangerous” during the 1930s.
Copies of the 1930s films have now been acquired by the Irish Film Archive and will be screened during a symposium, presented by the Irish Film Institute, entitled: Ireland’s Athletic Assault and Battery? – Hollywood and Hurling , in Kilkenny on August 9th.
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