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Monday, 5 June, 2000, 13:20 GMT 14:20 UK
Irish rising film under the hammer
Easter Risisng
Scene from film footage of 1916 Easter Rising
Dramatic film footage of the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule in Ireland is expected to sell for IR£100,000 when it is auctioned this week.

The newsreel, which was taken by a freelance cameraman, captures the violent battle between republican rebels and the British Army in the centre of Dublin that left nearly 500 people dead.

It also records the damage done to the city by the fighting, and the efforts at reconstruction.

The film is due to go under the hammer at Dublin's Whyte's auctioneers on Saturday along with largely unseen footage from several other key events during the bloody struggle for independence and the civil war that followed the establishment of the Irish Free State.

These include the aftermath of the first Bloody Sunday in 1920, when the pro-British militia known as the Black and Tans opened fire at a Gaelic football match in Croke Park.

They killed 11 fans and the captain of the Tipperary team in revenge for the IRA's murder of 14 British spies.

The IRA's capture of Dublin's Customs House in 1921 and the burning of towns and villages in the conflict are also featured.

"Some of the footage was sold to news agencies, but much of it was unwanted and so has never been seen by the public," said a Whyte's spokesman.

There is footage of the 1922 Irish elections, including rebel turned leader of the Free State Michael Collins' campaign in Cork, and the siege and shelling of Dublin's Four Courts, which were held by forces fiercely opposed to the Treaty with the British Government.

Collins is also pictured alongside colleague Arthur Griffith at a wedding, shortly before the two men died in August 1922.

Arthur Griffith died of an illness a week before the assassination of Collins.

A second set of newsreels, which have all been provided by a private collector, shows the first east-west transatlantic flight from Baldonnel, County Dublin, to Greenly Island, Canada, in 1928 in which Irish Air Corps Colonel James Fitzmaurice took part.

Call to government to buy footage

The film has an estimated value of between IR£25,000 and IR£30,000.

Fears that the newsreels could go to an overseas buyer have led to calls for the Irish government to buy the footage.

Brian O'Shea, heritage spokesman for the Republic's Labour party, said the film should be put in the Irish Film Archive.

"It would be a dereliction of duty on the part of the government were this material to be lost to the public," he said.

"These newsreels are priceless historic documents which will help us understand the early development of the state and they would greatly enrich our national archives."

Liam Wylie, head of collections at the IFA, said that although it had the only purpose-built premises in the country for storing film, the archive would not be bidding because it could not afford them.

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22 Jan 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
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