The Horgan Brothers Collection

The Horgan Brothers’ films (1910- 1920) are some of the earliest moving images made in Ireland. Brothers George, James and Thomas Horgan began their careers in the late 19th century in Youghal, Co. Cork as shoemakers and photographers. They ran magic lantern shows in Youghal and in the surrounding villages and townlands. From 1900, following the success of their photographic studio and shows, James Horgan began to use a motion picture camera to capture current events and their local community.

In 1917 the brothers opened the purpose-built 600-seat cinema The Horgan Picture Theatre in Youghal, where they screened The Youghal Gazette – their local topical newsreel featuring events of local interest and contemporary international feature films. This practise was not uncommon among early cinema owners. Many owners would also film events (such as fairs, processions etc) which were well-attended by locals. Screening this guaranteed a sold out show as the locals were keen to see themselves on the big screen. The Horgans experimented with photography and models and this collection includes the earliest surviving Irish animation which dates from about 1910. It features the Youghal Town Hall Clock standing on its head and pirouetting.

This collection was donated to the IFI Irish Film Archive by Jim Horgan, who is the grandson of James Horgan. Soon after acquisition, the nitrate rolls were transferred to modern safety stock. Although most of the reels had suffered the ravages of time, enough had survived to provide an invaluable moving image record of what appeared on screen a century ago in a rural Irish cinema.

Leaving Church – The Horgan Brothers Collection

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As future cinema owners, The Horgan Brothers had the foresight to know any event that attracted enormous crowds was worthy of filming. From 1917, their amateur newsreel The Youghal Gazette was shown in The Horgan Picture Theatre, and people from the locality would come to catch a glimpse of themselves on the big screen. This […]

Declan’s Well- The Horgan Brothers Collection

AaronH IFI
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Located in Ardmore, Waterford, Saint Declan’s Well dates back to the 14th century. In this film the viewer is shown parts of the oratory and Saint Declan’s tower but perhaps the most interesting is footage of a man and a woman walking underneath Saint Declan’s stone. Legend has it, on the feast day of the […]

Hunger Strikers – The Horgan Brothers Collection

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This film captures the return to Ireland of Irish Republican prisoners who had been on hunger strike in HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs, London. After the 1916 Rising a large number of Cork men were interned for their active role in the rebellion and often they resorted to hunger strikes as a means of protest. The […]

Clock Tower Animation – The Horgan Brothers Collection

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The Youghal Clock Tower is a light-hearted and playful exploration of the possibilities of animation in its infancy. In this short, the well-known landmark is depicted dancing into frame as the clock gate comes to life, spinning and dancing through the main street of the Cork town. It is likely that James Horgan was one […]