The €35 subscription for membership of the Irish Film Institute seemes excellent value, it entitles the holder to 10% discount in the Institute’s excellent restaurant. Even if I didn’t go to see a single film, the money saved on meals would make the subscription worthwhile.
Cinema never had an attraction equivalent to that of live events for me. Given the choice of either going to see a film or going instead to see a football match or a music concert, the latter two would always be preferred.
Cinema was much more compelling for those of former times. One woman I knew would enjoy recounting her film going days.
‘We cycled everywhere. We cycled to Dublin once. A friend was in hospital so my friend and I decided to go to visit her. We took all our food with us and tea in glass bottles; there were no restaurants along the way, at least not any that we could have gone to.
We stayed in Dublin three or four nights, in different places. My friend stayed with people in Sandymount and I stayed on the North side. We would visit the hospital each day and go to the cinema each night. It was great; I had ten shillings and we hadn’t much chance of the cinema at home.
When the time came to go back, we cycled part of the way and then decided to try to get a lift. A man from the town who had a lorry and who knew us drove straight by us, but a sand lorry stopped and we put the bicycles up in the back.
It was two o’clock in the morning before we were back near home, and then we had to cycle all round to avoid the town. We had no lamps on the bicycles and would have been summonsed if we had been caught’.
Born a century ago this year, the story came from her days as a nineteen year old.
Eighty-one years ago, the days of The Emergency, a time of severe shortages of everything imaginable. How long had two teenage girls saved in order to have ten shillings to spend in Dublin cinemas?
Perhaps spending nothing on transport, accommodation or food had made possible the feast of celluloid. The question I missed was what films had been seen.
In 1941, what was being shown at cinemas that so attracted two country girls that their journey was decades later? What worlds reached them from the silver screen?