The CEO and Director of the Irish Film Institute says previously-unreleased footage of U2 playing at an outdoor festival in Sheriff Street in Dublin captures an important part of Ireland's social history.

The never-before-seen footage of a young U2 playing on a rooftop in the north inner city can be accessed from today on the IFI player.

The footage was filmed by Sé Merry Doyle in 1982 and is part of his Loopline Collection, which features documentary footage of Irish life over three decades.

View the Loopline Collection

Ross Keane said the footage features inner city life and rural traditions, many of which are disappearing. 

Mr Keane said that the Loopline footage also includes outtakes and exclusive interviews with people including Colm Tóibín, Jim Sheridan and Gabriel Byrne. 

The footage is, he said, "a treasure trove" of Irish names in literature, architecture and the arts.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Keane said the footage also shows a parallel with current social issues such as homelessness and drug abuse.

Merry Doyle has been working with the Irish Film Archive to preserve and digitise the archive of his Loopline Films and it includes plenty of gems from 1980s Dublin including over seven minutes of exclusive footage from the city's best known musical sons, an extended version of footage contained in the documentary 'Looking On'.

Loopline Films specialises in documentary and TV series, in particularly programmes documenting social issues.

In 2015, Merry Doyle received funding from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to digitise the material, including 16mm and 35mm film, tapes and audio material.

From today the Loopline Collection can be viewed free of charge worldwide on the IFI's online platform, the IFI player and via the free IFI player app.

Included in the collection is 'Essie's Last Stand' which looks at an elderly woman's fight to stay in her home when developers move in, and 'Alive Alive O', a requiem for Dublin which looks at issues including the drugs epidemic in the inner city and the plight of the street traders which includes material shot by the subsequently Oscar nominated cinematographer, Robbie Ryan.

There are interviews, too, with cultural figures including Patrick Scott, Margaret Atwood and Richard Ford.

And there is the U2 footage, which shows a young, energetic and vibrant band, clearly enjoying themselves, on the cusp of launching themselves off that rooftop and onto the world stage.

Towards the end of the clip several locals get up on stage to sing with Bono. You have to wonder what they are doing now, and if they remember the day a little bit of Irish musical history was made, literally in their back yard.