But the DVD is more than just a record of great hurling achievements; it also provides us with a snap shot of an Ireland long gone. The camera team skilfully recorded the excitement in the capital on match day as they follow the crowds from Heuston Station, down O’Connell Street, and up to Jones’s road. For me these crowd scenes are almost as compelling as the match footage. Other highlights are the small details: Mattie Fouhy and Willie John Daley playing bootless, a canine spectator invading the pitch and being escorted to the sideline, crowds hanging from the railings and lining the wall behind the score board in the days before health and safety spoiled the fun, linesman smoking as they wave their flags, and footage of the opening of the new Hogan Stand in 1959.
However, I don’t think there will be much debate about the fact that it is Micheal O’Hehir’s rousing commentary that steals the show. In the early days much of the action was missed by a single cameraman struggling to keep up with the fast play, but O’Hehir’s enthusiastic commentary more than fills the gaps, creates a sense of occasion, and succeeds in building an air of tension for the audience who already would, of course, have known the score.
The 11 matches contained on this DVD are the beginning of what we hope will be a series of All-Ireland DVDs from the Archive collection. We aim to follow up with the football finals of the same period. The fact that this footage survives is due to the on going work of the IFI Irish Film Archive. The DVD serves as reminder that our moving image heritage is invaluable and needs to be given the same protection as the cultural collections held in our museums, libraries and paper archives. The proceeds of the sale of this DVD will go towards the cost of preserving our national moving image collection for the benefit of current and future generations.
Head of Irish Film Archive