Stunning footage of Dublin back in 1915, courtesy of Pathé and of the Irish Film Institute (the IFI)  3 minutes, 37 seconds long in total.    It depicts a city during WWI but far from the front, with civilians going about their daily business, at the bank, the shops, catching a tram, and so on.

The footage was all of course, originally in Black and White.  It has more recently been colourised and also given a basic “atmospherics” sound track, of horses hooves, tram bells, and other ambient city sounds of that era.    Not everyone is a fan of such interventions-  many historians feel they distort original source material-  personally I feel that both these two later interventions add to the experience, bringing it far closer, and making it far more accessible and immediate.

The short film starts as you can see, at the Wellington memorial in Phoenix park, then travels around College Green, Bachelors’ Walk, Sackville St/ O’Connell Street, Eden Quay and elsewhere.    On Sackville/ O’Connell Street (the street changed name around Independence) it is particularly powerful for an Irish audience to look at the GPO (General Post Office)  knowing what great and momentous events would unfold there, less than one year later.

For those interested in architectural history, the gigantic building on the right of Sackville/ O’Connell Street, with the enormous dome on top, towering over the surrounding buildings, was the DBC (the Dublin Bread Company) a chain of cafes in the capital.  This was their flagship store, and that huge overhead dome was a big attraction, providing a viewing platform inside for their customers, with panoramic views over the whole city.   This magnificent old building perished in the conflagration of 1916, when much of the street went up in flames.   Incidentally, one of the factors that made those fires of Easter 1916 so destructive, and so spectacular at nighttime, was the contents of a chemical store on teh street, called Hoyte’s.   Keep an lookout during the parts of the footage in College Green.  A tram passes, festooned in advertising.  Blink and you’ll miss it.  But the eagle-eyed will spot an advert for Hoyte’s on the front of a tram.

Anyhow, that’s enough commentary and interpretation from me!   I’ll leave you to savour this wonderful film.  Enjoy!

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Below:  O’Connell Street after Easter 1916.

Dublin History 1916


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