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Thursday, 26 July 2012

RTE Archives holds a free record of Irish life

RTE Archives has launched its new free-to-view website this week and it's crammed full of life in Ireland over the last century.

The broadcaster is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and some of the vintage film from its early days are remarkable documents of a society still struggling with appalling poverty, political turmoil, and, as always, emigration.

I lost myself in the archives for a few hours last night, concentrating mainly on the House and Home Exhibition.

In it, I found a series of videos showing the desperate condition of public housing in the 1960s, the plight of young families trying to get a new home, and the reaction of those who were rehoused in Dublin's newly built suburbs. There were also documentaries about the construction methods of old houses, films of the Celtic Tiger housing boom and of the ghost estates left in its wake. Absolutely fascinating stuff.

A rummage around the site tells me that there's still loads more to explore. Some of the exhibitions that I've filed under 'Must See' are Emigration Once Again, which tells migration stories spanning six decades; the band U2, from their first TV appearance in 1978 to recent times; and Halloween, another series of short videos and audio recordings telling of local traditions on this popular festival.

And that's before I even start looking at the Photographic Stills collections!

I think these archives might be a little bit addictive...