A vast body of work exists and is preserved in the IFI Irish Film Archive. To mark Seachtain na Gaeilge there's a special collection of Irish language short films, selected from this archive and presented digitally, free-to-view worldwide.

With An Cailín Ciúin having made a splash internationally, now seems like the perfect time to take a dive into the archives and showcase older films in the Irish language, like Louis Marcus' bilingual documentary Children at Work which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1974. This gem and other beauties form part of a new collection put together by the Irish Film Institute to mark Seachtain na Gaeilge. It's called Gearrscannáin ón gCartlann and Sunniva O'Flynn, Head of Irish Film Programming at the IFI told Seán Rocks about the collection on Arena.

Sunniva says there's something here for everyone in Gearrscannáin ón gCartlann: drama, history and brilliant documentary features, with footage that will surprise, move and delight the viewer. She invites everyone to have a look at Gearrscannáin ón gCartlann and to spread the word to family and friends across the globe, as there are no geographical restrictions on viewing the collection. Sunniva says they put the collection together to give people an idea of the riches available in the archives:

"What we decided to do was to create this cluster of films that would just introduce people to the short Irish language form. It's just a route in for people, so they can enjoy the route and then start to root and find all sorts of wonderful films."

Seán zeroed on one of the short Irish language dramas, Yu Ming is Ainm Dom (2003). It tells the story of a young man from China who spends 6 months learning Irish before arriving in Ireland. He can see Irish place names on road signs, but is dismayed by the fact that nobody understands him when he speaks Irish:

Frank Mc Guinness in Yu Ming is Ainm Dom

"He spins the globe one day and his finger hits Ireland, decides he’s going to visit and learns that the national language is Irish, so he learns how to speak Irish and arrives into Dublin and expects everyone he encounters to communicate with him in Irish. And of course nobody can."

Documentaries like Ábhar Machnaimh, about the award-winning Irish photographer Colman Doyle and Ocras, Margot Harkin’s powerful documentary on the history and legacy of the hunger strike by Irish Republicans in the Maze prison in 1981 are both included in the collection. And if you’re following Réaltaí na Gaeltachta on Tuesday nights at 7 on RTÉ One, where celebs revisit the Irish College experience in Rann na Feirste, there's a perfect opportunity to see how times have changed in the 1962 short film Irish College Ranafast.

Sunniva O’Flynn says that filmmaking in Irish has been around for almost 100 years, with films like Robert Flatherty’s Oidche Sheanachais from 1934. Films in this special collection Gearrscannáin ón gCartlann date back to 1940 and some of the biggest names in Irish film and television have completed work in both languages, Sunniva says:

"It’s not a new phenomenon at all. There’s a vast history, some of which you can see for free, on the Player and you can get all your 'rellies’ around the world to watch it too."

More chat about the collection as well as audio extracts from the films are in the full interview here. And you can find the IFI's Gearrscannáin ón gCartlann collection here.