The Radharc Collection

Founded in 1959, Radharc is considered one of Ireland’s most important independent documentary production companies. It initially comprised of a small group of Dublin priests lead by Father Peter Dunn and Fr Desmond Forristal. The team made over 400 documentaries which were screened on RTÉ, Ireland’s national broadcaster, between 1961 and 1996. Their insightful and challenging filmmaking garnered many critical accolades.

The Radharc documentary series had a remarkably broad reach both geographically and thematically. It was shot in more than 60 countries around the world and looked at life from a range of religious, social and cultural perspectives. The team were not afraid to tackle difficult and often controversial topics and their standing as clergy allowed a level of access that lay filmmakers may not have been able to achieve. The Radharc output is significant, in both Irish and international terms, as a body of finely-crafted documentary work and an insightful record of Irish cultural, social and ideological engagement from the 1960s to 90s. The Radharc cameras shone a light onto a changing Ireland and recorded values, rural and urban traditions and indeed topography that no longer exist. Their international output was equally valuable as the team covered five continents in search of globally-significant subject matter.

The Radharc Trust is responsible for The Radharc Collection and deposited it with the IFI in 1998.

You can find out more at The Radharc Trust. 

Christy Brown, My Left Foot – Radharc

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This Radharc film originally aired in October 1962 and documents the life of the famous Irish painter and writer, Christy Brown. In the film, Father Peter Lemass visits Christy at home in Crumlin, talks with him and shows us his work. Christy Brown was born on 5th of June 1932 in Crumlin, Dublin, the tenth […]

Retreat – Radharc

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This short documentary presents St. Anthony’s Retreat House in Raheny, a Capuchin-run house which held annual retreats for the public to escape the hum-drum of everyday life and “get closer to God”. During weekend retreats a wide variety of talks on matters of interest were offered including: prayer and reflection, readings from spiritual books, and […]

Tax on Kerry Cows – Radharc

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This programme presents an unusual initiative introduced by the parishioners of Asdee and Ballylongford, in the Diocese of Kerry, to raise funds for the renovation of their churches which had fallen into disrepair. The inventive scheme called for farmers of each diocese to impose upon themselves an annual levy of £1 per cow, for a […]

Kylemore Abbey – Radharc

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Shot in 1962, this Radharc film was made during a visit to the rebuilt and extended Kylemore Abbey in Connemara.  The film celebrates the fine architecture and includes an interview with the Lady Abbess. Kylemore Abbey was built in 1867 as a family home for the family of Mitchell Henry, a wealthy doctor from London. […]

Stamps for the Missions – Radharc

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At the time of the film’s production, Irish adults and children collected stamps and sent them off St. Stanislaus College in Tullamore ‘for the missions’. This story looks at what happened to the stamps and shows how the clerics from the college meticulously sorted and organised the thousands of stamps so that they could be […]

Sick Calls – Radharc

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This short film describes the rites and rituals involved in administering the Sacrament of Extreme Unction – also known as the ‘Last Rites’ to people. It shows what preparations should be made at home for the reception of this sacrament. Radharc was an independent production company established by Father Joe Dunn, Father Desmond Forristal and […]

Village With the Most Vocations – Radharc

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The film explores the unusually high number of vocations emanating from the parish of Doon, Co. Limerick. In 1962, when the documentary was made, there were 117 living nuns who were born in Doon. Through a series of interviews with the parish priest, nuns and the children from the local convent school, the Radharc team […]

Manners in Church – Radharc

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This quietly humorous instructional film from the Radharc series shows church-goers how to behave courteously and correctly in church. It cautions against: unpunctuality; noisy entrances; inappropriate attire; loud whispering of prayer; skulking at the back of the church; smoking outside. The film is testament to the capacity of the Radharc team (comprised at that time […]

Blessing the Aer Lingus Fleet – Radharc

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Originally broadcast in 1962, this story from the Radharc series explains how Aer Lingus planes are named after Irish missionaries. It also shows the mechanics of the aircraft and marvels at how they transports passengers to their destination. The blessing of the planes, a tradition since 1947, is also featured here. Radharc was an independent […]

Penal Crosses – Radharc

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This short film examines the history, design and function of Penal Crosses in Ireland. The crosses date from the time of the Penal Laws in Ireland when Roman Catholics were forbidden to practise their religion, own property or gain positions of power. Penal Crosses were a portable, easily concealed, relic of worship for Catholics whose […]

Glenties Tidy Towns – Radharc

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The Tidy Towns competition established in Ireland in 1958 has proven to be a great initiative, bringing communities together and encouraging residents to look after their town and keep their locality tidy. Glenties in County Donegal is no stranger to the competition and has taken the crown for tidiest town in Ireland for three years […]

Irish College Ranafast – Radharc

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Father Joe Dunn introduces Ranafast, the Gaeltacht area in the Rosses region of Donegal, telling us: “We hear a lot about the vanishing Irish, the flight from the land, and the depopulation of the Gaeltacht. But the little village has not suffered any depopulation, particularly during the summer months when the famous Irish college is […]