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watch the tapes

RTÉ is making public a massive archive of old news clips

Think of it like Reeling In The Years on demand.

PastedImage-94274 Inside RTÉ's archives

AS MANY AS 9,000 hours of RTÉ News broadcasts are being released to the public after they were recovered from perishing tapes.

The recordings cover from 1985 to 1999, and events such as the divorce referendum, the Omagh bombing, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

During this period RTÉ camera crews recorded on Beta SP, a videotape format made by the same manufacturer as Betamax. Archivists at the state broadcaster say these are ‘vulnerable to decay’, and needed to be digitalised.

The mammoth undertaking, which RTÉ undertook in association with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, involved processing 13,332 tapes. Before they could be recovered, they first had to be sent to Amsterdam to be baked in a specially-designed ovens to improve the audio and visual quality.

Currently just 1985 is available on the RTÉ Archives website, with the rest up until the turn of the millennium being uploaded each day.

You’ll recognise a few familiar faces in the recordings, from Des Cahill trying out Aer Lingus’s new transatlantic service… / YouTube

… to Tommie Gorman, explaining the switch from film to what was known as “electronic news gathering”. / YouTube

Head of RTÉ Archives, Brid Dooley said:

The broadcast recordings and materials managed and preserved by RTÉ Archives are a distinct part of our collective cultural memory, offering unique insights into the unfolding Irish State from 1926, when Radio Éireann was founded, right up to the present day.
However, over a quarter of a century after its introduction, the video tape format, which replaced film, is now in peril and must be reformatted to be preserved. Without this intervention valuable content is at risk of being lost to future generations.

Explore the collection so far here >

‘I hate to go, but I’m afraid I’ll have to leave’: Bryan Dobson signs off on his final Six One >

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