This film is part of Free
Ireland Welcomes O'Leary V.C.
In Dublin the newsreel cameras capture a hero’s welcome for a decorated Irish Guardsman.
A simple newsreel story that reminds us history is never simple. Decorated Irish Guardsman Michael O'Leary enjoys a hero's welcome in Dublin, captured in footage filmed with the rough immediacy of the present tense. Within a year, Dublin's Easter Rising would begin the historic chain of events leading to a newly independent nation - forever changing the meaning of images like these.
Cork-born O'Leary was one of the most celebrated Irish war combatants, having won the Victoria Cross for singlehandedly taking two German barricades on the Western Front. As suggested here, he and his story were used for recruiting purposes in Ireland, but following independence the British war service of the likes of O'Leary quickly came to be seen as an awkward irrelevance at best. Ireland today is looking afresh at the complex place of World War I in her national story and films like this have their part to play in this fascinating process.