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Dublin: 0 °C Thursday 17 January, 2019

Watch: A play about St Patrick from 1958 (with Irish kings and druids)

The clip, made available by the Irish Film Institute, forms part of an advertisement from 1958 promoting Ireland.


HERE’S ST PATRICK’S story told in a way you probably haven’t seen before.

The footage, released by the Irish Film Institute and available on the IFI Player, focuses on An Tóstal (or ‘The Pageant’) which was a series of festivals and events established in 1953 to celebrate Irish culture and draw more tourists to the country.

The highlight of the festival in Dublin was the Croke Park extravaganza shown in the video above, complete with an old Irish king, The Druid, and religious explosions.

Today, only Drumshanbo in Co Leitrim still hosts the annual festival.

Ireland in Spring

IFI Archive 1 A still of St Patrick from the clip. Source: IFI Player/Ireland in Spring

The clip forms part of an advertisement for Bórd Fáilte Éireann, which was released in 1958.

Films like this one proved a useful tool in promoting the country to foreign travellers as an ideal place to visit, by showcasing the nation’s cultural and natural amenities.

With extensive improvements in transportation and local infrastructure, coupled with extensive marketing plans to promote Irish heritage, Ireland quickly became a busy tourist destination in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

The local pride engendered by An Tóstal inspired annual clean-up plans which were formalised into the National Tidy Towns Award, which is still going strong.

You can watch the full video Ireland in Spring here on the IFI Player. It’s worth the watch.

Read: Santa on the Liffey and 1960s Dublin: A look back at Ireland’s Christmas past

Read: ‘Stop daydreaming’: Public service films and bizarre ads from the Ireland of decades past

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