The Irish Tapes

THE IRISH TAPES was one of the first major video documentaries produced with 1/2-inch portable equipment. From 1971 to 1973, John Reilly and Stefan Moore shot over one hundred hours of footage in Northern Ireland, profiling one of the most volatile and violent moments in the decades-long conflict from the vantage point of those who lived through and remembered it. Includes rare interviews with members of the Provisional IRA, individuals suffering from unrelenting violence in Belfast and Irish-American perspectives on "The Troubles." Originally shown as a three-channel, twelve-monitor installation at Global Village. Edited and kinescoped for broadcast by WNET in 1975. Originally shot in 1/2" B & W video. Permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, Lincoln Center, 2013, Brooklyn Academy of Music 2014. In 2014, curators at the Brooklyn Academy of Music described THE IRISH TAPES as "a striking example o the creative and political potential of the then-new video technology... offering an immediacy, intimacy, and unabashed subjectivity that was then unheard of in broadcast television journalism."

01:10Copy video clip URL The sound of marching snare drums opens to a rolling shot of Belfast, North Ireland.

01:24Copy video clip URL Title. A sign from the city of Belfast appears next to bombed-out buildings and piles of brick rubble.

01:48Copy video clip URL Wall erected by the Provisional IRA that says, “No Go Area.” Window signs for a “Bomb and Fire Sale.” Images of IRA soldiers, civilians running through a plaza, anti-British graffiti, and children bearing guns. Amateur militia members training for combat are juxtaposed with Emerald Society members of the police department in New York City.

03:09Copy video clip URL “St. Patrick’s Day, New York City, 1972.” Parade footage on 5th Avenue features flag bearers, baton twirlers, and a marching band.

04:28Copy video clip URL Interview with parade spectators. Louise Denver asks, “What does it mean to be Irish?” Various Irish Americans are asked about “The Troubles” in Ireland.

05:12Copy video clip URL More parade footage.

05:41Copy video clip URL A man dressed in Irish Americans speculates about the supposed Communist influence behind the fight for North Ireland’s independence. Another man adamantly defends the IRA as fighting for the Irish people.

06:50Copy video clip URL A group of bagpipe players. A man holds up a depiction of the Easter Rising from 1916 led by James Connolly.

07:45Copy video clip URL Images of a family surrounding a young woman whose face is soaked in blood.

08:11Copy video clip URL Northern Ireland, April 1972. Children sing together in a circle. Another child plays a war game. A young man describes a recent shooting of an eleven-year-old boy. A funeral procession and service is held for the boy. A woman whispers the details surrounding the shooting.

10:11Copy video clip URL At the graveside committal, a young girl describes how she witnessed a seemingly indiscriminate killing of a woman by soldiers. A large group of young adults and kids throw rocks and broken shards of concrete at an armored military vehicle. The vehicle chases them and fires shots.

12:20Copy video clip URL A young woman describes the impact of The Troubles extent to the lives of children and families. More footage of kids and adolescents fighting in the street with an armored military vehicle.

13:41Copy video clip URL Interview with Rose McCadory, whose husband was killed by British soldiers in 1971, and Rose Creig, whose husband was interned. McCadory praises the kids and young adults who risk death by resisting military occupation. Creig recalls helping kids to hide petrol bombs from soldiers.

15:25Copy video clip URL The same young woman talks about local neighbors’ strategies for self-defense and the collective action taken by these local families. She also describes the atrocities of occupying soldiers who shot a 14-year-old boy.

16:38Copy video clip URL News footage from August 9, 1971, a time of mass arrests and internment by the British Army, also known as Operation Demetrius. Brian Faulkner, Prime Minister of the Unionist government of Northern Ireland, gives a speech to re-introduce internment targeted at the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

17:59Copy video clip URL Interview with Pat Mullen, whose husband was interned. She describes the raid on her house by government forces.

18:57Copy video clip URL A young man explains the Special Powers Act, first introduced in 1922 by the British loyalist government in Northern Ireland. The young man recalls a quote from John Vorster, Prime Minister of South Africa, who upon introducing a coercion bill in 1963 said that he “would be willing to exchange all the legislation of that sort for one clause of the Northern Ireland Special Powers Act.” He describes the uses of the Special Powers Act while footage plays of a young man being beaten in the street by government forces.

20:41Copy video clip URL Bus from Long Kesh Internment Camp. Louise Denver interviews family members visiting interned men.

23:28Copy video clip URL A group of women sing “I Love Old Ireland Still.”

24:32Copy video clip URL Rose Creig, with the Ardoyne relief center, inquires how long a young man who is getting married can be released from internment. The marriage ceremony takes place and a celebration happens outside the church. The mother of the groom holds up a copy of THE IRISH NEWS with a headline about the release of 73 internees and detainees. She explains that her son will only be released for 10 hours. The bride and groom are welcomed by women banging metal trash bin lids on the street with white ribbon tied around the handle.

28:25Copy video clip URL “News at Ten” footage from the British-based Independent Television News (ITN). Footage from a speech by William Craig, leader of the Unionist Vanguard Movement, at a rally of the Apprentice Boys in Carrickfergus. Footage of William Whitelaw as the newly appointed Secretary of State for Northern Ireland after the imposition of British Direct Rule.

29:25Copy video clip URL Protestant Women Demonstration for “Loyalist” Prisoners. A group of protestant women protestors accuse Whitelaw of appeasing the Catholics and the IRA. One woman says people who want separation from Britain in Northern Ireland should go back to Ireland and stay there. Another women woman says, “But we are not oppressing Roman Catholics and we do not want to see them oppressed. We want freedom for everybody in Ulster and we want this to remain Ulster.”

32:12Copy video clip URL Footage of Rev. Ian Paisley, Protestant religious leader and member of the Democratic Unionist Party, on television. He says that there can be no successful uprising against the British.

33:10Copy video clip URL Patrick “Paddy” Kennedy, MP-Belfast of the Republican Labour party, speculates on what might happen if the Protestant community were to enter the uprising against the British, and the possibilities of Catholics and Protestants uniting in common cause.

34:09Copy video clip URL Interview with Cahill Goulding, a member of the IRA. Speaking about the mostly-Catholic Irish nationalists, Goulding says, “Until such time as they make some overtures to the Protestants and work side-by-side with them, not on a sectarian basis but on a class basis that this is essential. That is, this is the essential pre-requisite for any advancement either in their social positions in the six counties or in any advancement towards the establishment of a worker’s republic.”

35:04Copy video clip URL A group of women sing, “Belfast Brigade,” set to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

35:19Copy video clip URL Louise Denver interviews a group of children about missing school and nearby bombings.

35:52Copy video clip URL Images of the Europa Hotel after being bombed on April 4, 1972. Denver interviews a British soldier about possible motivations for bombing the hotel. The soldier narrates the events of the bombing. Denver interviews another man removing broken panes of glass from a window frame. A worker of the hotel explains she has now come to expect bombings. Another man gives his reasons for not supporting the bombing. A young man gives his reasons for supporting the bombing and an Ireland free from British rule.

40:35Copy video clip URL “Free the People” first sung by a solo member from the group of singing women, with the group later joining in.

41:15Copy video clip URL More footage from a “News at Ten” broadcast from ITN. A report by Keith Hatfield about a confrontation between a group of Protestant women protesting the IRA at a local school and another group of IRA supporters.

42:15Copy video clip URL Interview with the journalist Seamus Bradey. Bradey praises the everyday sacrifices of the working-class Catholic woman, mother, and wife.

43:12Copy video clip URL House raid in Belfast.

45:07Copy video clip URL Interviews with local supporters of the Provisional IRA.

45:39Copy video clip URL Interview with IRA members wielding sub machine guns a barricade.

46:50Copy video clip URL Footage from an official IRA training camp.

47:48Copy video clip URL Interviews with IRA trainees.

48:30Copy video clip URL A singer performs “A Nation Once Again,” as a crowd claps and sings along.

49:36Copy video clip URL A woman shot in the face in her home by British soldiers (the same shown at 07:45Copy video clip URL) is carried to a car by her family. A woman cries in anguish at the British soldiers.

50:36Copy video clip URL End credits.

 

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