My thanks to @bigmonsterlove on Twitter for sending something my way recently, in the form of some brilliant archival footage just posted online by the Irish Film Institute.
A hugely important and much-loved institution in Temple Bar, the IFI are now bringing some of their archival holdings to the general public online with their new IFI Player. To start with, we have 1,200 minutes of material from the vaults (thankfully only about a minute of this involves Bob Geldof), including some footage from Gael Linn’s Amharc Éireann series.
Amharc Éireann: Eagrán 126, Dublin Students Protest, available to view here, captures a 1961 anti-nuclear protest in Dublin city centre, led by students from Trinity College Dublin. The demonstration is small, but the footage is telling of its time, in terms of politics and fashion! Some students carry the now-iconic peace symbol of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), which had been born in 1958 in England, while others carry placards which reference the tragedy of Hiroshima. One student carries the image of Yuri Gugarin, a hero of the Soviet Union and the first man in space.
The march was a bit of a disaster, with The Irish Times reporting the next day that:
A peace march by some 200 placard-carrying members of the Irish students’ Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in Dublin yesterday turned out to be anything but peaceful. The “ban the bomb” marchers were heckled by a rival group of students shouting “we want the bomb!”. Scuffles broke out between rival students and were broken up by civic guards, and over-ripe tomatoes and bags of flour were showered on students and guards alike.
The CND logo, so prominent in the footage, was designed in 1958 by Gerald Holtom, a professional designer and artist. In explaining what the symbol means, Holtom recalled:
I was in despair. Deep despair. I drew myself: the representative of an individual in despair, with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of Goya’s peasant before the firing squad. I formalised the drawing into a line and put a circle round it.
As the CND themselves note, “the symbol continues to be used as shorthand for peace”.