Virtually viewing the past
Recently the Irish Film Institute (IFI) re-mastered a number of nitrate films, carefully digitising them and making them available online for the first time. The Irish Independence Film Collection portrays in graphic detail what life was like during the 1916 Easter Rising, the War of Independence, Civil War and Ireland post-1924. We can see how people dressed, what their faces looked like, what buildings they used, how the transport system worked and much more.
The films can be viewed independently and these moving records can be used in tandem with other archive resources to inform us about economic, social and other developments in Ireland in the past. So, the ‘Preparing for the Electricity Era’ film can be viewed on the IFI website while the ESB Archives is available on another, providing access to 90 years of virtual archives on innovation, rural and urban electrification, the Shannon Scheme, and more.
On a wider scale, you can also compare how other countries and cities developed their social and economic infrastructure by having a look at the Library of Congress material. Here for example, is footage of a boat passing Roosevelt Island in New York in 1906 as it moves towards New York City's charitable and penal institutionsis, and here is the opening of Ireland’s new harbour in Waterford in 1929 .