WATCH: Oldest film footage ever shot in Ireland tells story of struggle for Irish independence
Life & Style

WATCH: Oldest film footage ever shot in Ireland tells story of struggle for Irish independence

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THE STORY of Ireland's road to independence is being told in a DVD documentary packed with rare film footage and photographs.

The opening sequence shows the oldest film footage shot in Ireland by the French Lumiere Brothers in 1897.

Set to haunting, emotive music and beautifully narrated by Irish actor Gary Murphy, Ireland - Birth of a Nation takes you through the key events leading up to the 1916 Rising, the War of Independence and subsequent Civil War.

Inspired by the upcoming Centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, the film has been designed to appeal to audiences overseas as well as in Ireland.

Ireland - Birth of a Nation is available to purchase on DVD. To get your copy click HERE 

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At the film’s core is the execution of the seven signatories of the Proclamation, which has been crafted in such a way that some viewers have been moved to tears, says its film-maker and historian Gerard McCarthy.

"There is an abundance of poignant scenes in the film, such as that of a seated Tom Clarke, self consciously smiling at the camera," he adds.

"Next to him is the wife and daughter of recently deceased Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa. Clarke had already been through 15 years of hardship in British prisons.

"Nine months after this footage was taken, Clarke would be executed by firing squad for his role in the 1916 Easter Rising."

Other notable highlights show Padraig Pearse at the graveside of O’Donovan Rossa, head down in advance of making his famous oration.

Afterwards he is seen walking away from the grave in full military dress.

The substantial role of women in the fight for Irish independence is also clear in this film, with footage of Cumann Na Mban (Irish Women’s Council) and close-up shots of Countess Markievicz.

"Several women fought alongside the men during Easter Week, Markievicz herself was second-in-command of a rebel position at St Stephen’s Green," Gerard McCarthy says.

MichaelCollins10-n Irish revolutionary Michael Collins. Picture: Getty Images

"The disruption to daily life caused by the war can be seen, with civilians being searched in the streets by patrolling Black and Tans and Auxiliaries - both units were brought in from England to fight the IRA during the War of Independence.

Gerard’s favourite piece of footage is that of Michael Collins at the wedding of General Sean McKeon in June 1922, just as Civil War was looming.

A relaxed and good humoured Collins takes centre stage, chatting and joking with the Bride and Groom. Next to him stands Arthur Griffith – both men would be dead within three months.

There is also some amazingly rare film footage of the funeral of Michael Collins in 1922, when over a half a million people turned out in Dublin to pay homage.

His death was a major shock for the entire country. As the cortege wheels its way towards Glasnevin Cemetery.

The sun is shining and a white peace lilly can be seen on Michael Collin’s coffin – it was placed there by his fianceé, Kitty Kiernan.

The funeral procession passing through O'Connell Street in Dublin. Photo by Central Press/Getty Images Michael Collins' funeral procession passing through O'Connell Street in Dublin. in 1922 Picture: Central Press/Getty Images

Ireland- Birth of a Nation was originally shown to the public at the Royal College of Physicians, Kildare Street in Dublin last summer and has received widespread praise form those with Irish roots across Britain and the US as well as in Ireland.

Ireland - Birth of a Nation is now available to purchase on DVD. 

To get your copy click HERE