There are a number of films available online which detail various aspects of Irish History. Viewing these films may help you to better contextualize the history of your family within the history of Ireland. If you know of any other films which you would like to see added to the list, just email me at irisheyesjennifer at gmail dot com.

'O Bhéal go Béal - Scéim n Scol': Mouth To Mouth: The School Scheme

This documentary short film in Irish with English subtitles details the 1937 Irish Folklore Commission programme the Schools' Folklore Scheme. The purpose of this programme, within the Irish school system, was to have children document the folklore and local history of their own home areas.

Each week the children were assigned a specific topic, and were instructed to conduct research on the subject matter, and to talk with their parents, grandparents, and oldest members of their community. Their goal was to gather stories, histories, and memories which were applicable to the subject. Following these discussions they were to write about the topic in a copybook which had been specially provided for the task.

To access this film and others, see my post 'From the pens of babes': Recording Folklore and History in Ireland

Cumann na mBan:

Check out the series of films on YouTube which offer details of the history of the Irish women's revolutionary organization Cumann na mBan. Some of the films are better than others with respect to historical accuracy; however, most of them include original footage. The series Irish Women Revolutionaries (#1-6) is especially good.

See: Cumann na mBan YouTube

Death or Canada aka Fleeing the Famine:

This deeply moving docudrama contextualizes the immigration story of the Willis family within the larger history of An Gorta Mor, the Great Famine of 1845-52, and emigration out of Ireland in the period. The official website of the film offers extensive information including an essay on the famine migration of 1847 by Professor Mark G. McGown with Mark Chard of St. Michael's College, University of Toronto.

You can visit the official site of the film at
You can view the film on the Ballinran Productions site at 
On the Ballinran site click on Films and choose Death or Canada

Faces and Places Wicklow:

If you need a break from the films of a much more serious nature, then this RTE travelogue film from the 1980s is worth a look. It offers a light hearted look at County Wicklow, popularly known as the 'Garden of Ireland'.

View it, along with other 'Classic' films such as 'Connemara and its ponies', on the RTE site at

Remembering A Memory:

This film, produced by Ronald Rudin (Concordia University) and directed by Robert McMahon of the Royal Ontario Museum explores the various stories inspired by the immense Celtic Cross constructed in 1909 on Grosse-Île.

Grosse-Île is a tiny island in the St. Lawrence Seaway, in the Île-aux-Grues archipelago, about 48 km east of Quebec City. It is the landing and quarantine site which was established in the 1830s for those immigrants entering Canada during the Cholera outbreak, and the site of landing for those Irish fleeing An Gorta Mor, the Great Famine of 1845-1852. (See my post: The Great Famine...)

Grosse-Île is the site of the largest cemetery outside Ireland connected with the famine. This film reflects on how and why the memories evoked by Grosse-Île have so dramatically shifted over the past century.

View the film at:


If you are interested in feature films with an Irish theme visit this post
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