Tomb or Treasure House, 1988 Video

Tomb or Treasure House, 1988 Video

The first premises of the Irish Traditional Music Archive when it was founded in 1987 were in what had been the Irish Quaker Library, in no 6 Eustace Street in Temple Bar, Dublin 1, a complex which then housed a number of arts organisations and is now the Irish Film Institute. During its foundation years there, the first video documentation of ITMA, Tomb or Treasure House, was filmed in September 1988 by Cathal Goan, an RTÉ radio producer from Belfast who was then training as a television producer-director with the national broadcaster. Selections from a resultant VHS copy of his documentary are reproduced here with his permission.

Cathal would go on from television production and direction to become Editor of Irish-Language Programming in RTÉ in 1990; to found the national Irish-language television channel TG4 in 1994; to become Director of Television in RTÉ in 2000; and to become Director General of RTÉ from 2003 to 2011. He is now Adjunct Professor in the School of Irish Language, Celtic Studies, Irish Folklore and Linguistics in University College Dublin. In his spare time Cathal was, for twelve years, a highly effective Chairman of the ITMA Board.

From the video, it is striking on the one hand how the essentials of the ITMA project were in place from the very beginning, but also how future developments, and especially the transformative effects of digitisation and the Internet, were as yet undreamed of. It was also unknown that television crews would be filming regularly in ITMA over the next twenty-plus years for the archival television series Come West along the Road on RTÉ and Siar an Bóthar on TG4.

With thanks to Cathal Goan, Paddy Glackin, Dermot McLaughlin, Seán Potts, Seóirse Bodley, Adrian Munnelly, & the others who contributed to the making of the trainee film.

NC & TH, 1 August 2012