An evening of cinema 1950s style, Co. Monaghan
On 16 April 2019, the Irish Cinema Audiences project visited the U3A Monaghan Film Club at Smithborough Presbyterian Hall for a screening of ‘The Student Prince’ (1954) starring Edmund Purdom and Ann Blyth. Although the leading role of Prince Karl was played by Purdom, the vocals on the film’s musical numbers were provided by Mario Lanza who had originally been cast for the part, but reportedly quit the film before shooting was finished (Green, 1999). Despite being visually absent, ‘The Student Prince’ is very much remembered by participants of the Irish Cinema Audiences project as a Mario Lanza film. His distinctive singing voice certainly left an indelible mark on the memory of cinema-goers in Monaghan who sang-along to Lanza’s rendition of ‘Drinking song’ and ‘Deep in my Heart’.
An afternoon of cinema 1950s style, Swinford, Co. Mayo
On 15 February 2019, we held a free screening event at Swinford Cultural Centre in collaboration with Age Action and the local U3A group. Participants enjoyed a free screening of the 1959 film ‘Pillow Talk’ starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson.
Locals shared their memories of the Lyric cinema, which opened in the early 1940s and was a focal point of social life in Swinford until it closed down in 1970. Although it is now vacant, the town’s former cinema still stands behind the main street on Brookeville Avenue.
Irish Audiences Studies Network – Inaugural symposium, Maynooth University
The inaugural symposium for the Irish Audience Studies Network took place on 5 December 2018 at Maynooth University. In addition to presentations about audience research in television, radio and digital media, the programme of speakers also featured a panel on cinema audiences with presentations from Dr Denis Condon (Maynooth University), Dr Sam Manning (Queen’s University Belfast), Dr Carol O’Sullivan (University of Bristol), Dr Gwenda Young and Dan O’Connell (UCC) and Dr Sarah Culhane (Maynooth University).
For a full round up of the symposium, check out Dr Sam Manning’s report for Film Hub Northern Ireland: https://www.filmhubni.org/blog/irish-audience-studies-network-symposium-report/
Waterford U3A Meeting
On 3 December 2018, we joined the Waterford U3A group for their Christmas celebration. Following a presentation about the Irish Cinema Audiences project, members of the group shared their memories of the Savoy Cinema (now the Book Centre), the Coliseum (fondly known to locals as the ‘Col’) and the Regal.
Positive Ageing Week at the Stella
On 3 October 2018, as part of Age Action’s Positive Ageing Week, we held a free cinema afternoon at the Stella Theatre in Rathmines. The audience was treated to a screening of the 1953 classic film ‘Roman Holiday’ starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.
The event was attended by 200 Age Action members, many of whom used to attend the Stella in the 1950s and 60s. The opportunity to return to this beautifully restored space of their youth was met with an enthusiastic response. Chatting with members of the audience as they entered the auditorium and again after the screening, it was clear that coming back to the Stella stirred up a lot of fond memories. Others who had been regular cinema-goers in their youth, revealed that this was the first time that they had come to the cinema to see a film in years.
If the aim of Positive Ageing Week is to reflect on how we can support older members of our communities to ‘enjoy living longer and getting older’, this event showed how cinema-going can play an important role in that.
From the moment when crowds began to gather outside the lobby doors, to the collective laughter of the audience at Gregory Peck’s slapstick gags, the afternoon illustrated how effectively the ritual of cinema-going can bring people together. And even if it’s just for the duration of the film, this can help us to feel connected to a wider-community.
We are very grateful our sponsors Bonovox and Bank of Ireland for making this event possible. We’d also like to thank all of the management and staff at the Stella Theatre for making it a truly unforgettable afternoon.
Thank you to Leo “George” Devitt for sharing the photos below
Rathmines U3A Meeting
On 5 September 2018, we met with members the Rathmines U3A group who shared their memories of the Stella, the Princess and Irish Film Society screenings at the State cinema in Phibsboro.
Rialto Active Retirement Group
On 4 September 2018 we met with members of the Rialto Active Retirement Group who shared their memories of going to the cinema in Dublin 8 and the surrounding areas.
Wellbeing for Older People at Richmond Barracks
On July 12 2018, we joined Age Action, Age and Opportunity, Home Instead and Siel Blue for a programme of events dedicated to wellbeing for older people and their carers. During a presentation about the newly launch Irish Cinema Audiences project, participants were invited to share memories of favourite films from the 1950s. This event was held in the beautifully restored Richmond Barracks in Inchicore, Dublin 8.