Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Video: In Flags or Flitters

This video of archive material is a fascinating glimpse into Dublin city's people and architecture back in the second half of the 20th century, from its painters and poets to pubs and planning.

Director and producer Donald Taylor Black was commissioned by RTÉ to mark Dublin's year as European City of Culture in 1991, but the documentary isn't your usual hollow no-warts exercise for the tourists.

Journalist Frank McDonald appears several times in the video. I love his description of how Dublin's O'Connell Street was "transformed into a honkytonk freeway". He spares most of his venom for the corporation's "bunkers" and the monstrosity of Hawkins House in Poolbeg Street. It was voted the worst building in Dublin in a readers' poll on Archiseek in 1998.

There are loads of curiosities along the way: cars on Grafton Street, the new Abbey Theatre being built, playwright Heno Magee.

One sign of the times: it takes nearly a quarter of an hour into the video before there's any place for female voices, and even this is a brief few seconds. That's not including the woman in the washing powder ad during the commercial break at around 26 minutes in.

But if you hang in there, there's a young architectural student and protester called Marian Finucane at around 31 minutes, and the ever brilliant Ger Ryan at 41 minutes (blink and you'll miss Brendan Gleeson too).