ARDEE’S great archivist and historian Vincent Farrelly, who died recently left Ardee a great legacy, one of the best home movie collections in the country.
His films show people coming from Mass on a Sunday morning, walking down the centre of Ardee, or riding home on their bikes when there was hardly a car in sight.
There is An Aer Lingus Dakota plane at Dublin Airport, old GNR buses, roller skaters on stage at the old Bohemian Cinema.
There are men waiting to get into the pub after Mass and then there’s the fun fair at the Fair Green with swing chairs and dodgem cars, there’s a tilly lamp in a shop window, and a man riding a bike on frozen ice of the river Dee.
The man riding the bike on the frozen river is the filmmaker himself.
Most of Vincent’s films are a celebration of Ardee and reflect his love of filmmaking which began when he started to work in the Bohemian Cinema.
“Those were the great days of the cinema,” he once said. “You’d have to book a week in advance to get in on a Sunday night. People came from all over the town and from a radius of about ten miles”.
At that time, the ESB was cut off at night, but they got power from the chair factory and it was heated from the factory as well.
At Christmas they put on a free show for the children of the town. The film renters, MGM, Paramount, and 20th Century Fox, all gave a free reel for the show.
It was at the Bohemian that he met Joan his wife who worked as an usherette.
He began making his own films in 1944. His work includes a remarkable documentary on the An Tostal Parade in Ardee in 1953.
Vincent’s film archive includes Dermot O’Brien’s father heading the Brass and Reed Band, and the Old IRA and Order of Malta and the Ferdia Boys’ Club and the De la Salle Brothers and the Mercy nuns in their pre-Vatican Council habits that hadn’t changed since mediaeval times.
Senator James T McGee is there and a young Fr James Kearney and the Gaelic scholar, Fr McIvor, leading people on a tour of the historic sites of the town.
Other films include the May procession in the town, Cardinal D’Alton’s visit to Ardee and many more shots of life around the town.
Vincent was born near Sean O’Carroll Street, just behind the railway station, and his other great interest was trains.
When they were children they would skate on the platform on Sunday mornings and they all knew the drivers and the firemen. Sometimes they would go to Dromin on the engine with the drivers.
He was a member of the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland and filmed many events including the 100th anniversary commemoration of the Boyne viaduct.
Vincent started with 8mm film back in the second world war years but transferred his treasures to video tape and added some soundtrack.