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'5,000 men needed to recreate Bloody Sunday 1920 - no jeans' - Neil Jordan donates archive to National Library

The archive will be digitised and put on display.

Neil Jordan with Director of the National Library of Ireland Dr. Sandra Collins and Chair of the National Library of Ireland Board Paul Shovlin.
Neil Jordan with Director of the National Library of Ireland Dr. Sandra Collins and Chair of the National Library of Ireland Board Paul Shovlin.
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

OSCAR-WINNING FILM director Neil Jordan has donated an archive of his notes and research to the National Library of Ireland.

The archive includes film and TV scripts, production files, storyboards, plays, notebooks and personal correspondence with artistic collaborators and political figures.

At an event announcing the donation, which comes under section 1003 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997, Jordan said he was “thrilled” to hand over the notes, many of which he hadn’t seen.

The archive will be digitised and put on display in the National Library, with a public exhibition due in 2019.

Part of the donation is a newspaper ad calling for 5,000 men to fill Bray’s Carlisle Grounds to recreate Bloody Sunday 1920, when the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Auxiliary Division killed 14 civilians at Croke Park.

The notice asks the men to wear dark jackets and shoes as well as trousers. However, it expressly tells volunteers that they should not wear jeans, runners, watches or other modern conveniences.

Such large-scale turnouts by extras were common in the making of the film and Jordan said it represented a curiosity Irish people had about it. He said that criticism of the historical accuracy of the film didn’t bother him.

“It was 1995 and the Celtic Tiger hadn’t happened, so the city kind of embraced us and gave us access to the entire city – it was extraordinary.

“People were enraptured that their history would be reenacted in front of them.

“The movie can bring people to the history books – they can read Rex Taylor or Tim Pat Coogan. I hope people enjoy the film as a piece of art and not assume it is a definitive word on history.

“I think it has functioned like that.”

Director of the NLI, Dr Sandra Collins, said:

“The National Library of Ireland is committed to preserving the story of Ireland through literature, film, still image, born digital content and more. Neil Jordan has had an indelible impact on filmmaking at home and abroad, and we are delighted that he has chosen to donate his rich and diverse archive to the NLI. We look forward to making this generous donation accessible to fans, researchers and the next generation of Irish filmmakers.”

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