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Thursday 21 September 2023 Dublin: 15°C
# the irish adverts project
Old Irish ads from the past 50 years are free to view online from today
The Irish Film Institute have been working to restore almost 8,000 rolls of film that had been damaged by mould.


THOUSANDS OF ROLLS of archived Irish film has been restored and made available to view for free online today.

The Irish Film Institute’s Irish Film Archive, supported by a grant from the Archiving Funding Scheme, has catalogued, digitised, restored and preserved a large collection of 35mm film television advertisements made in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

These commercials were made for broadcast on Irish television by a number of prolific Irish advertising agencies including Wilson Hartnell, Birchall, Hunter, and Arks, for a variety of Irish and international corporations.

The advert archives include a cartoon singing about Jacob’s biscuits, a trippy Aer Lingus snippet, and a short and snappy ad for Sudocrem with the tagline ‘A great friend of the family’.

Restoring film reel

Pennys PENNYS / IFI Player Ad for Pennys from the 1970s. PENNYS / IFI Player / IFI Player

The collection, numbering nearly 8,000 rolls of film, had been held in a number of damp warehouses for decades and, as a result of poor storage conditions, had suffered physical deterioration and contracted a mould infestation before it was transferred to the IFI Irish Film Archive in the mid-1990s.

The IFI Irish Film Archive team has salvaged this material, through a combination of painstaking processes including frame-by-frame assessment, extensive physical and chemical conservation, followed by scanning and digital restoration.

The collection has also been catalogued and preserved according to international best practice, thus safeguarding it for the future and making it widely accessible for the first time.

This project has resulted in the creation of a substantial Irish TV advertising archive of leading brands ranging from Cadbury to Calor, and promotional films for state organisations such as Dublin Corporation, and the ESB (Coras Iompar Éireann’s ad Miles Cheaper is particularly convincing).

According to the IFI:

These films may be only seconds long but, taken together, they provide a unique window into Irish society and consumer habits over the course of three decades.
They tell us much about the community they were made for, as well as the era they were made in, reflecting an Ireland of very different social mores, standards, dress sense, and attitudes to gender and race.
Fascinating on many levels, they can be enjoyed from a nostalgic, historical, social or cultural perspective.

Over 200 adverts are available to view now on the IFI Player.

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

Pictures: New online archive gives public access to Dublin’s visual history

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