“First Communion” is featured in the Irish Film Institute’s Father Delaney Collection.

This video, which has been preserved by the Irish Film Institute as part of their Father Delaney Collection, takes a look at what the holy sacrament of First Holy Communion looked like in 1930s Ireland.

In this film, Father Delaney captures a group of children dressed in their finest outfits, proudly walking down an inner-city Dublin street on their way to First Holy Communion. A crowd gathers at the railings of the church to see the event and wave at the camera.

About the Father Delaney Collection

Father Jack Delaney (1906-1980) was ordained in 1930 at the age of 24 and served as a parish priest in Dublin in the 1930s and 1940s.

In the 1930s, Fr Delaney was assigned to the north inner city parish which included Gloucester Street (now Seán MacDermott Street), Rutland Street, and Gardiner Street. It was an impoverished neighborhood of densely populated tenements.

Father Delaney grew up in a middle-class family and had great admiration for residents of the inner city, particularly admiring their sense of community and resilience in the face of hardship. His parishioners are the subject of many of his films and his films of tenement life provide us with a fascinating glimpse of life in 1930s inner-city Dublin. These scenes include children playing in rubble, stallholders, clothes drying on the balconies of flats, and residents of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity Convent (which housed a Magdalene Laundry).

Father Delaney’s niece Irene Devitt, along with her late husband John Devitt, deposited Fr Delaney’s film collection with the IFI Irish Film Archive in the 1990s.

The video below is published with thanks to the Irish Film Institute (IFI). You can find all IrishCentral articles and videos from the IFI here.

To watch more historic Irish footage, visit the IFI 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 Player Apps for free on iPhone, Android, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku.

* Originally published in 2020, updated in April 2023.