04: Portraits 1916

Portraits 1916 is a collection of interviews made for television recording the personal memories of women and men who took part in the Easter Rising.

In the early 1960s Telefís Éireann (RTÉ Television) began to record interviews with people who had taken part in the Easter Rising and the War of Independence. 

Individuals were interviewed under a working title of 'The Survivors'. The first of these interviews were organised by Jack White and recorded at the television studios in Donnybrook on 31 August 1964. Further recordings were organised by producer James Plunkett with the same working title of 'The Survivors' although none of these interviews were broadcast as full programmes. 

In 1965 meetings were held to discuss what Telefís Éireann should do to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. Veterans continued to be interviewed despite the fact that no decision had been made as to what type of programme, if any they could be used in. James Plunkett did not see 'The Survivors' recordings working as individual programmes. 

In April 1965 producer Aindreas O Gallchoir took over the project continuing to organise recordings with the initial intention of using the interviews to create one programme.  By September Aindreas O Gallchoir decided to produce seven thirty minute documentaries on the leaders of the Rising but many more people needed to be interviewed.

This new project had the working titles of 'Portraits 1916' and 'Seven Signatories'.  With very little time over thirty people were interviewed for this series. The interviews took place mainly in studio between October 1965 and January 1966, with the exception of Kathleen Clarke and Leslie Bean de Barra. These interviews would eventually form the basis for the series 'On Behalf of the Provisional Government' which was first broadcast in 1966. 

The interviews recorded form an extensive record of the events and the people involved in the Easter Rising, and were never broadcast in their entirety. Presented here under the title of 'Portraits 1916' are the personal recollections of men and women who took part in or witnessed the events of the Easter Rising.