This newsreel shows a steamship carrying crates of pigeons arriving in Dublin in 1937 for the Irish Hospital Sweepstakes Pigeon Derby.
The crates of birds are unloaded at the Dublin docks, and transported to the Croppies Accre (Collins Barracks), Dublin. As the excitement builds, crowds gather and people in fancy dress (some dressed as pigeons) stand ready to release the birds. Signs show what clubs the birds have come from – many in the UK – and the sky fills as the birds are released and scatter to find their bearings. Afterwards, Dublin’s Lord Mayor Alfred (Alfie) Byrne and an unnamed young woman receive gifts of pigeon eggs from a girl dressed in a pigeon suit.
The Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstake was a lottery established in the Irish Free State in 1930 – with tickets sold as far afield as the UK and US – to finance hospitals and medical services.
This film is part of The Irish Independence Film Collection – The Early Irish Free State that explores facets of Irish society after the War of Independence and up to the birth of the Irish Republic.