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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 Eight: Irish language and culture


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Irish language and culture

Gael Linn’s concept of Irishness is the underlying subject of the entire Amharc Éireann series and nowhere is it more clear what this entails than in the films that deal specifically with traditional Irish culture. The representation of various markers of Irish identity in the series is the visible testament to Gael Linn’s Irish Ireland philosophy, which promoted the advancement of all things Irish. These years may be characterized in hindsight as the “years of change” in a very real political, economic and social sense, but for Gael Linn and Colm Ó Laoghaire, the Ireland in the Amharc Éireann series must also maintain its traditions. While progress and development in domestic industry and the international sphere are applauded and highlighted throughout the series, it is in the films celebrating Irish Ireland that the message of Gael Linn is most discernable; the protection and promotion of Ireland’s traditional, Gaelic identity.

The series highlights the work of Gael Linn and other groups that are actively promoting Irish language education and culture. It showcases the wealth of Irish talent at the national traditional music and Irish dancing competitions, draws attention to Irish subjects and players in film and theatre, and allots extensive coverage to traditional Irish sports – hurling, Gaelic football and camogie. Irish culture is more than traditional music, dance and sport, however. The series pays significant attention to rural and and urban working-class entertainment by focusing on...

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