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robes on film

Famous Irish movie costumes saved from "dying in an attic" or being dumped

Now they’re going on show in the Little Museum.

MOVIES LIKE CALVARY, My Left Foot, and the Crying Game show that Ireland punches above its weight in the movie world – but not just when it comes to filmmaking.

The costumes featured in the movies often take centre stage, but when the filming is over, they sometimes get discarded or left to die in attics.


Now a fashion journalist and historian have teamed up with a top Irish costume designer to bring some of the most famous items from the screen to the Little Museum of Dublin.

They are collected – along with some props and other items from film sets – for Ireland at the Movies: Costume in Irish Cinema 1987 – 2015.

It launches this weekend at the Ireland Funds Gallery at The Little Museum of Dublin, in collaboration with Irish Design 2015.

From trunk to exhibition

It’s a real treat for fans of movie and fashion, as costumes that have been preserved in the private collections of designers and actors are now on view for the first time. It’s also a trip through Ireland’s cultural history, with costumes that reflect many different points in Ireland’s 20th and 21st century.

It’s all thanks to lauded costume designer Eimer Ni Mhaoldomnaigh and costume historian Veerle Dehaene, along with journalist Jo Linehan from Image Magazine.

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Linehan told that she met Ní Mhaoldomnaigh while interviewing her on set at the start of 2015.

We started talking about the fact so many great Irish films were either created in the country or produced here. We talked about all the work that goes into creating a story and character, and [how] those costumes designed by people in Ireland either get thrown away or lost. I thought it was the saddest thing.

Ní Mhaoldomnaigh told Linehan that she had long wanted to exhibit some of these items, which she knew were “either dying in a box or in someone’s attic”.

She was able to use her extensive contacts in the industry to bring people on board when the Little Museum gave the go-ahead for hosting the exhibition.


“I think it’s a celebration of Irish film and everything that’s been done here,” said Linehan. “Eimer is amazing – her CV is a who’s who.”

Linehan said she would love to see a national archive of film costumes being put together, which is something Ní Mhaoldomnaigh would also love.

“Film and fashion are two of those things that fall between the gaps in terms of funding,” noted Lenihan. “I’m a film fanatic so I always thought that was sad.”

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Some of the costumes come from the Costume Mill on Capel St in Dublin, which was set up by renowned designer Joan Bergin.

Linehan hopes this new exhibition “generates buzz and interest” in the area.

The whole reason this exhibition is taking place is because of this green coat (pictured below) in the film Calvary.

“This film really resonated with me and struck a chord with me,” said Linehan. “When I saw that coat and saw that image, it really stuck with me.”

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The exhibition explores costume design in Irish cinema from the iconic My Left Foot to more contemporary productions, shining a light on work by Oscar-winning designer Sandy Powell and Joan Bergin amongst others.

Actor Brendan Gleeson commented:

Good costume design, like everything else in film-making, demands individual creativity in the service of the narrative and the film as a whole.

Ireland at the Movies: Costume in Irish Cinema 1987 – 2015 is on show at the Little Museum of Dublin.

Read: “This area’s gone to the f**king dogs”: Why this writer was inspired by Dublin’s rubbish problems>

Read: Fatsuits, priests’ robes and corsets… Backstage with the Abbey Theatre’s costumes>

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