Tuesday, 1 December 2009


Named after the poem by Irish Republican leader Pádraic Pearse, Mise Éire documents Irish history from 1896-1918, particularly the 1916 Easter Rising and its effects. In mimesis of Seán Ó Riada’s dramatic score, the film is split into three parts. In Part I, we are given a concise summary of history before the dawn of cinema. British soldiers are seen training for the Boer War. We hear briefly about the foundation of the Gaelic League, Sinn Féin and the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union. We also see rare footage of Thomas Clarke and Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, two revolutionaries who had spent long stretches in prison for their actions. Part II deals with the Easter Rising, the insurrection by the Irish Republicans which led to the eventual establishment of the Irish Republic. Part III presents an Ireland newly imbued with hope and purpose, and simple descriptions of positive events such as the release of Irish Volunteers from English prisons end the documentary on an optimistic note.

Mise Éire, while not pretending to be anything but a patriotic chronicle of Irish history, is charmingly artless in its delivery. Director George Morrison is said to have trawled through approximately seventy hours of silent newsreel footage to piece together his work, and the occasional discontinuity between event descriptions is an endearing reflection of this. However, the film’s meticulous recitation of history has little effect in a modern context, particularly as most of the facts and footage are accessible to anyone via the internet.

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