News, Film Reviews and Festival Updates from the Irish Film Institute (www.ifi.ie). Irish Film Institute is principally funded by the Arts Council.
Please note: as of September 2014 we've moved our blogs and news stories to www.ifi.ie/category/news/
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
The Horgan Projector
This 35mm cinema
projector, which is displayed in the window of the Tiernan MacBride library, was
donated to the IFI Irish Film Archive by Jim Horgan, Furbo, Co Galway, who is
the grandson of James Horgan, photographer and shoemaker of Brown Street,
Youghal, Co. Cork.
In the 1890s and
1900s, James and his brother Thomas Horgan toured Youghal and neighbouring
towns and villages with a magic lantern slide and moving image show. They
projected slides of local and foreign scenes, films from the Lumieré Brothers
and local topicals - films they made themselves of local beauty spots and
Such was the
popularity of these film shows that in 1910 the Horgans began building
Youghal’s first cinema. Seven years later, after considerable delays caused by
the First World War, the Horgan Picture Palace opened in Friar Street on St
Stephen’s night 1917.
The cinema seated
600 people with wooden benches to the front of the auditorium and more
comfortable, upholstered seating to the rear. The walls of the auditorium and
foyer were elaborately decorated with hand-painted scenes.
Variety shows at
the cinema included slide presentations, newsreels, short silent dramas and
sing-alongs, where the words of popular songs were projected on the screen. The
projections were accompanied by the Horgan’s Picture Theatre Orchestra.
The Horgan's Picture Theatre Orchestra
A great attraction
for the cinema audiences was the occasional screening of the Youghal Gazette,
a newsreel featuring items of local interest produced by the Horgans for
exhibition in their cinema. Items included: Corpus Christi processions, people
leaving Sunday mass, the return of local men from Wormwood Scrubs prison in
England (c. 1917) celebrations at the end of World War 1, outings to the sea
and a series of clever photographic animations. These films have been
transferred from the nitrate originals and are preserved at the IFI Irish Film
The Kamm projector
was probably one of the two original machines installed for the opening of the
cinema in 1917, but certainly dates from no later than the mid 1920s. It was
adapted for screening sound films, possibly in 1929, when the Trial of May
Dugan (dir. Bayard Veiller)- ‘an all talking picture’- was shown in
the Picture Palace. The projector was powered by an electrical generator with a
hand-crank built in for emergency use.
lamp-house currently mounted on the machine is not the original one. It was not
unusual to update the lamp-house as more powerful luminants became available.
This Kalee model housed a carbon-arc lamp with a manually advanced arc-rod
system mounted before an adjustable convex mirror.
The film reels
were enclosed within heavy metal spool boxes which provided protection against
fire from the highly flammable nitrate film stocks used commercially until the
1950s. The Kamm machine was somewhat unusual in that the take-up reel was
housed within the lower body of the projector and not jutting away from the
projector frame. The projector carried reels of no more than 2,000 ft
approximately 20mins at sound speed. Feature length films were shown on two
projectors with each projector showing alternate reels.
featured a back-projection system with projectors located behind the screen.
The small space that was created between the projection box and the screen was
used for some time as a bedroom. The cinema remained open until 1988. In 1996
the building reopened as a Heritage Craft Centre.
The IFI Tiernan MacBride Library
This projector was
meticulously restored by Bernard Matthews (Ardee, Co Louth) a member of the
Projected Picture Trust. The Trust, registered in England, is committed to the
preservation and exhibition of still and moving image equipment.
In addition to the
magnificent projector, the IFI Irish Film Archive building also displays the camera on which
the brothers shot their films and the Archive
holds a document collection relating to the administrative history of the
Horgan Picture Palace and spanning the years 1917 -1956 collection. These
include screenings diaries, gross and net takings records, accounts ledgers,
logs of ticket sales, and carbon copied correspondence.
IFI Curator Support the IFI Irish Film Archive Preservation Fund and donate today [here].