Show Less
Restricted access

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.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access



The politicians and civil servants of the Lemass era were more than willing to throw out the baby with the bathwater, so hard as Ó Laoghaire might have tried to unite Irish and modernization in the official mind, his plea fell on deaf ears – the language was cast aside and left to fend for itself, as an uncomfortable reminder of the failures of poor, backward Ireland. A corner was turned during this period in the definition of government priorities, away from the traditional policy of promoting and protecting the language as a marker of Irish national identity, and toward free market commercial and economic success.

The next thirty-odd years saw a decline in stature of the Irish language in the Republic, which was also reflected in the decline in Irish-language television, as RTÉ quickly decided that commercial needs overrode cultural and Irish programming continued to fall as a percentage of the total from the 1960s onwards.1 The Language Freedom movement of 1964, which was really a freedom from Irish movement, was a prelude to the election campaign of Fine Gael in 1972, which promised to end the compulsory status of Irish in the school syllabus. In the early 1970s, this was partly a result of the fact that nationalism of any stripe, including linguistic, fell out of favour thanks to the violence in Northern Ireland. Thanks to this unwillingness on the part of the state to protect the language within the new context of political and economic...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.