Cumann na Daoine

A community based organisation in Youghal, Co. Cork, Ireland.

A Step Back in Time: free archive film screening of Bobby Chapple’s work

Bobby Chapple home movie archive film screening at Cumann na Daoine as part of the Lifelong Learning Festival.

A free screening of the home movie archive of the late Bobby Chapple is taking place on Monday, 27th, March, at 3:30pm in the Cumann na Daoine Community Café on Catherine Street.

Amateur filmmaker Bobby Chapple captured the hustle and bustle of everyday life outside his front door shop on North Main Street, Youghal from the 1950’s to the 1970’s. This wonderful collection of archive 8mm film will be screened for the first time at Cumann na Daoine.

Bobby Chapple had a radio and TV shop once located where the Priory shop on North Main St. is now. It was at this shop you purchased your old valve radios. It was a time before rural electrification so you had to bring in your wet, and dry, batteries to be topped up by Bobby to power the radio and amplifier.

In the early half of the 1960s, Bobby installed the old black and white TV’s and the huge VHF aerials on the chimney pots. The fascinating footage not only shows Bobby climbing the wooden ladders as he put up the huge aerials but in the clips you can see none other than the familiar face of newsreader Charles Mitchel in grainy B&W, as the RTE TV signal fades in and out in the early years of the national broadcaster.

Bobby was well known as having a great intellect and his knowledge of the town’s history was second to none. Bobby’s archive is not only contained in the home movies he filmed but also in his own collection of writings and drawings of the town and in particular of St. Mary’s Collegiate Church.

He captured many local events, street scenes, cycling races, vintage cars, angling and fishing at the quayside. One clip shows the metal boat ‘The Dewadden’ passing as the old Iron Bridge opens up to let the ship through.

Bobby was a gifted signwriter and he painted many of the signs for the filming of John Huston’s ‘Moby Dick’ back in 1954. In the 1950s, most exterior shots of “Nantucket, New Bedford” in John Huston’s movie adaptation of Moby Dick were filmed in Youghal, as New Bedford itself had changed too much in the intervening century to be usable for this purpose. Names such as Peter Coffin’s ‘Spouters Inn’ (where Moby Dick’s pub is now), P. Starbuck – Ship Chandler and shop fronts with unusual names like ‘Pildash Mayhew…all Nantucket type names from the time that Herman Melville wrote the classic book in 1851.

The archive has been compiled and edited by Michael Hussey with Bobby’s son, Ken Chapple, narrating the film. Ken recalls his dad through the home movie combinations “It was a relatively expensive hobby at the time. Looking back it was pre-digital. It was very much mechanical driven. The cameras made a lot of noise and the projectors made even more noise. It was quite an operation to get the film from the camera to the projector. The film had to be sent away, and when it came back, it was then spliced together with other films onto a larger spool. It was quite a job to join the films together. Ken continued “I wanted the films to be preserved and contacted Michael Hussey and we decided the best thing to do is to archive them for the people of the town for the future.”

There are many and varied scenes shown in the silent home movie clips: The busy dockside with the boats entering and leaving the harbour; the building of the new Lighthouse Hill as we know it; the Lifeboat launch at The Mall; the marching bands like St. Mary’s Brass & Reed Band and the Cork Hill Pipe Band; the opening of the New Bridge in 1963; a workers strike outside the Youghal Post Office; trains arriving at Youghal Railway Station; shark fishing and weigh-in (not for the squeamish!). Jazz Healy’s gymnastics team performing at Green Park; the huge fire at the Atlantic and Pacific hotels at Upper Strand in 1972; factory workers; bonfire night; the collapse of Cal Flavins’s shop at the corner of Main Street and Nile Street. Armistice Remembrance Day outside the British Legion building in the 1950s and St. Mary’s Collegiate Church are also featured. The Church is where Bobby spent much of his time documenting historic church talks of folklore legends and of Oliver Cromwell’s daughter buried beneath the tiles in the church. The building of the landmark water tower at the top of Cork Hill is surrounded in metal scaffolding and the tourist ‘Glass Boat’ as it was known locally doing the river trips are also featured and not least to mention the well known cartoon outside his shop that Bobby himself painted.

All in all, this is a packed archive of nostalgia and memories and proof once and for all that the weather really was much better and sunnier back then.

Local Community Development Worker with Cumann na Daoine, Hayley Fox-Roberts, said “We are delighted to be screening this wonderful home movie archive as part of the Lifelong Long Learning Festival. We have screened similar events like this before and it’s so good to see previous audiences’ participation when they see faces and places from the past. The names keep on rolling out throughout the screening. This one, though, is specially dedicated to the late amateur filmmaker Bobby Chapple and I’m very much looking forward to it”

Michael Hussey who edited and compiled the archive said “It will be a bit like Marty McFly going Back to the Future in the Cumann na Daoine premises time machine. So set your present time for Month: March: Day 27: Year 2023: Hour: 15:00: Minute: 30 and your destination time for Youghal 1950s to the 70s. The audience will love it – but their kids are going to hate it.”

Step back in time for a bit of fun and chat and teas and biscuits. Please come along to the free launch this Monday, the 27th March, 2023 and delve into the town’s past.

WHERE: Cumann na Daoine

WHEN: Monday 27th March

TIME: 3:30pm

Info: Hayley Fox-Roberts

Local Community Development Worker, Cumann na Daoine,

024 91900 / 087 9890336