Rare footage of Padraig Pearse to be shown in new film

Oration at the grave of O’Donovan Rossa in 1915 was filmed for posterity

Footage of Padraig Pearse’s famous oration at the graveside of O’Donovan Rossa will be shown in a new film about the revolutionary period to be launched next week.

The grainy footage was used at the time as a propaganda tool for Republicans who were struggling to win support in advance of the Easter Rising.

O'Donovan Rossa's funeral took place on August 1st, 1915. The old Fenian's body was repatriated back to Ireland and the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) organised a show of strength including a volley over his coffin.

Pearse can be seen in the film giving the graveside oration.


The speech ended with one of the best known refrains in Irish history when Pearse made a call to arms eight months before the Rising took place.

“They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools! - they have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.”

The footage, which was sourced from British Pathé, is contained in a 30-minute film entitled Ireland: the Birth of a Nation which will be shown daily at the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin from Monday.

The film is aimed at visitors to Ireland who are looking for a succinct version of the Irish independence story, according to filmmaker Gerard McCarthy .

Translation of the film’s narration appear on the film’s website in German, French, Spanish and Italian The film starts with footage of both O’Connell Street and St Stephen’s Green from 1897. This is the oldest footage ever shot in Ireland.

Other well known Irish people who appear in the film include Roger Casement, James Connolly, Eamonn Ceannt, Thomas Clarke and Erskine Childers.

There is footage of Michael Collins smiling and joking at the wedding of General Seán Mac Eoin.

More details can be found at irelandbirthofanation.com

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times