"Eamon de Valera in Boston" shows a clip of the Irish leader's American visit between June 29, 1919, and December 1920 as he embarked on a mission to raise funds for Sinn Féin.

In this clip now available to stream from the Irish Film Institute, de Valera is seen at his first public appearance in Boston, speaking to a crowd of 50,000 people in Fenway Park Stadium.

De Valera’s purpose in coming to New York and traveling throughout the US was to promote and get support and recognition for the idea of an Irish republic. He set the message for the visit during his first press conference at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, when he was introduced as the ‘President of the Republic of Ireland.’ During his time in the US, he raised millions of dollars.

"Éamon de Valera in Boston" is part of the IFI's Irish Independence Collection.

The Irish Film Institute's Irish Independence Collection

The period 1900-1930 was one of the most turbulent in Irish history, with WWI, the Easter Rising, the War of Independence, and the Irish Civil War all taking place. Due to the emergence of cine camera technology in the 1890s, these three decades are the first to be widely documented on film. However, Ireland’s lack of indigenous filmmaking during the early part of the last century, means the moving image record of this pivotal period in history was predominantly captured by non-Irish agencies. Newsreels of Irish events were screened alongside their home-grown stories in cinemas. In the early part of the 20th century (before the advent of television) newsreels, radio and newspapers were the predominant way for the public to keep up to date with important events.

Until recently these Irish newsreel stories, filmed by British agencies, had not been held in an Irish Archive and many had not been available to the public since their initial distribution 100 years ago. The Decade of Commemorations presented the Irish Film Institute with a unique opportunity to create The Irish Independence Film Collection, comprising Topical budget and British Pathé newsreels, with support from the Dept of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht. As part of this project the IFI was able to repatriate, safeguard and share these important visual documents – centralising them in Ireland for the first time and making them available to the Irish public.

It was essential the IFI Irish Film Archive repatriated the best quality copy of this remarkable material, which so vividly details the political, social and cultural events that shaped the Irish State. Thus, the IFI worked closely with the custodians of these collections (the British Film Institute and British Pathé) to ensure the best preservation outcome for this material. Acutely aware of the age and fragility of these newsreels, we persuaded both organisations to go back to the original nitrate film prints and meticulously digitise them to HD Quality. The quality of the newly digitised footage is remarkable, allowing even those who may be familiar with this material to see it in a whole new light. Details which were previously indistinct are now crystal clear.

In order to add further value to the collection, we enlisted assistance from National Museum of Ireland and University College Cork. Their staff helped to curate and catalogue the content and ensure that the information presented is as accurate as possible with important events, people and locations which were originally missed by non-Irish cataloguers. As part of the national centenary celebrations the Irish Film Institute has created a project that not only celebrates this momentous period in our history but that also has lasting value for the Irish public.

"Éamon de Valera in Boston" is published here thanks to the Irish Film Institute (IFI), who IrishCentral has partnered up with throughout 2023 to bring you a taste of what their remarkable collection entails. You can find all IrishCentral articles and videos from the IFI here.

To watch more historic Irish footage, visit the IFI Archive Player, the Irish Film Institute’s virtual viewing room that provides audiences around the globe free, instant access to Irish heritage preserved in the IFI Irish Film Archive. Irish Culture from the last century is reflected through documentaries, animation, adverts, amateur footage, feature films, and much more. You can also download the IFI Archive Player App for free on iPhone, Android, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku.

IrishCentral has partnered up with the IFI throughout 2023 to bring you a taste of what their remarkable collections entail. You can find all IrishCentral articles and videos from the IFI here.