For the first time since its original broadcast in 1966, RTÉ is to screen the 8-part drama Insurrection over consecutive nights beginning on RTÉ One from Friday 18 March. Originally produced and broadcast by RTÉ as part of the 1966 commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rebellion 1916, Insurrection was set in the style of a special TV News report depicting the events of the Rising as they unfolded day-by-day.
With a stellar Irish cast including Ray McAnally as the studio presenter and such luminaries of stage and screen as Anna Manahan, Jim Norton, Ronnie Walsh and Kathleen Watkins with legendary Abbey actor Eoin O’Suilleabhain as Padraig Pearse, Insurrection was written by Hugh Leonard and produced and directed by Louis Lentin and Michael Garvey.
Insurrection was a hugely ambitious project and was the biggest drama ever undertaken by Telefís Éireann at a time when the television station was still in its infancy having launched only four years previously.
For 50 years, RTÉ Archives has preserved the landmark drama Insurrection, maintaining and preserving the programme’s film materials and telerecordings, catalogue records and documentation, including a large collection of photographs taken on set. Originally recorded onto early 2-inch open reel video tapes for television, intended to be re-used due to the prohibitive expense, the original programmes were saved by creating a film version of the video recordings. Due to the importance of the collection and the degradation of such recordings over time, RTÉ Archives undertook the restoration project for Insurrection, in advance of the centenary of the Easter Rising.
Brid Dooley, Head of RTÉ Archives said, “RTÉ Archives maintains and preserves the largest collection of audio visual recordings in Ireland. It is a significant and unique record of Irish life which we preserve and care for in the public interest. We are delighted to bring this beautifully restored programme to audiences 50 years after it was first created. Our restoration project for Insurrection which was completed in 2007 involved painstaking picture and audio restoration work by RTÉ’s expert archives conservation staff and Windmill Lane post production studios.”
Insurrection will be broadcast as part of RTÉ 1916. A screening of Insurrection will also take place in the Lighthouse Cinema, Smithfield, Dublin as part of RTÉ Reflecting the Rising in partnership with Ireland 2016 (details and tickets at www.rte.ie/1916).
RTÉ Archives is currently presenting an online exhibition They Were There on RTÉ’s official 1916 website www.rte.ie/1916. The site presents 50 witness accounts of 1916 events on an interactive map. The previously unseen and unheard audio and visual collection features men and women who were members of the Irish Volunteers, the Citizen Army, Cumann na mBan, the British Army, the Dublin Metropolitan Police and citizens of Dublin. Together they help build a vivid picture of what was happening across Dublin city and beyond during Easter 1916.
Insurrection will also be available on RTÉ Player to viewers in the Republic of Ireland.