’Amharc Aneas’ (View from the South), a four part archive documentary series for BBC Northern Ireland and TG4 starts on Monday, March 8th and takes a look at relations across the border before the time of ‘the troubles’.
Making use of a nigh-on unseen Gael Linn cinema newsreel ‘Amharc Eireann’, which ran from 1959 to 1964, the ‘Amharc Aneas’ looks to reveal an account of life in Northern Ireland before the Troubles.
Director and producer Joe Marcus explains why this newsreel is so important. “There’s over two hours of newsreels from the North, covering sport, religion, industrial progress, politics and much more.” he says. “We managed to find nearly thirty people who had direct experience of events covered in the newsreels nearly fifty years ago.” These include Dubliner John Wynne, who survived the Belfast to Dublin train crash in 1964; John O’Donnell, who organised the Unemployment march in Newry in 1963; Belfast man Raymond Spence, who won the Skerries 100 in 1962 and Jim Heyburn, who sang at Finaghy Field on the 12th of July in 1961.
The documentary series also features input from reputable individuals such as Póilín Ní Chiaráin, former Northern Correspondent for RTE; Reverand Gary Hastings, who is a Belfast born Church of Ireland Minister; former lecturers in Irish Risteard Mac Gabhann and Diarmaid Ó Doibhlin and Doctor Maurice Hayes, former senior civil servant and Irish Senator.
Joe goes on to explain to IFTN that there are some fascinating clips of original newsreel commentary throughout the series: “In one report on the Stormont elections, it’s referred to as ‘the quietest election this side of the iron curtain’ and in another report on the 12th of July parades in Belfast, the commentary announces over a shot of a coloured man ‘This is the only black Orangeman we found’, it’s quite revealing,” he finishes.
The series’ episodes cover topics from the Rás Tailtain building and the Belfast Arts Centre to the Orange Parades and The Beatles visit to Dublin.
Director Joe Marcus has waited a long time to make this documentary and describes one of the driving forces to IFTN, saying, “The south always seems to see the north as a little brother that it’s sharing the island with.”
‘Amharc Aneas’ is produced by OMAS Media Ltd, with support from Northern Ireland Screen’s Irish Language Broadcast Fund. ‘Amharc Aneas’ starts Monday, March 8th on BBC2 at 10.00pm. It is expected that ‘Amharc Aneas’ will broadcast on TG4 also but a broadcast date is TBC.