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Visions of Ireland

Gael Linn’s «Amharc Éireann» Film Series, 1956–1964


B. Mairéad Pratschke

The Amharc Éireann film series (literally translated as Views/Visions of Ireland) was a cultural nationalist project sponsored by Gael Linn, an organization whose mandate was the revitalization of the Irish language through the use of modern media and technology. It was produced by Colm Ó Laoghaire, a member of a well-known Irish literary and nationalist family, the Plunketts. As the first and longest-running Irish-language documentary and news-film series, Amharc Éireann represented an attempt on the part of a few committed Irish-language enthusiasts to present Ireland to the Irish in a way that would instil a sense of pride in the country, and to promote the language in a way that the public would accept. Created during a period of rapid social, economic and political change, it reflects and records the dramatic transformation of Ireland from a rural, underdeveloped and relatively isolated nation into a modern member of the international economic and political community.
This book, the first full-length investigation of the Amharc Éireann series as a historical artefact, makes an original and important contribution to our understanding of the complexities of twentieth-century Irish history.
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Chapter Seven: Rural life and new technology


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Rural life and new technology

The views of Ireland as a proud national, postcolonial and industrializing community in the Amharc Éireann series constitute the official, external and public faces of Ireland. These films celebrate Ireland’s political history, its international present and its increasingly bright economic future. Meanwhile, Ireland’s social identity emerges in the Amharc Éireann series through the films that deal with the country’s rural communities. The extent to which rural life appears to be entirely untouched by the state and by its policies is striking; this Ireland appears as a distinctly more traditional and community-oriented society than the one concerned with commemorative politics, international relations and economic plans. The films on rural life both capture and mourn the loss of Ireland’s rural identity, while documenting various attempts to deal with the challenges and opportunities presented to rural communities in the form of new technology and scientific research. The existence of a separate rural calendar is evident from the coverage of agricultural shows and county fairs, as is the community social life that is connected to the farming calendar and events such as communal sheep-shearing, the ever-popular ploughing competitions, and the Young Farmer of the Year competition.

In spite of the nostalgic tendencies so evident in many of these films on rural life, the forward march of technology is palpable. Research and development is shown to be having an effect on the working of Irish farms thanks to...

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