Documentary: Hidden Treasures – Rod, Rhyme and Spinning Wheel

We’re delighted to bring you ‘Rod, Rhyme and Spinning Wheel’, the penultimate episode of Anne O’Leary’s acclaimed four-part documentary series ‘Hidden Treasures’ which examines the history of Irish folklife. It explores trades, crafts and traditions widely practised in rural Ireland from the 1850s to the 1950s. Each episode reveals how self-sufficient the rural Irish and crafts people were, and how they used natural materials to make vital objects for use in their daily lives. 

The series is based on restored old 16mm archive, (produced by the National Museum of Ireland from the 1950s to the 1970s), with contemporary recordings of traditional rural crafts and rituals. 

This fascinating episode ‘Rod, Rhyme and Spinning Wheel’ focuses on the end of Harvest and the beginning of winter, with its short days and long dark nights. There’s spooky footage of the pagan ‘Samhain’ festivities, when on the eve of Samhain’, (Halloween), the local people and children dress up in eerie, mischievous masks, as Pukas and Spirits, to mark the night where the land of the living come in close contact with the dead.  

The film also examines how vital basket making was for the survival of rural life. Using Sally and Hazel rods the men would make sturdy baskets for eggs, lobsters, potatoes, vegetables, for cribs, for fleece and for the animals to carry loads, while the women weaved and spun linen and wool to make clothes. This film also presents stunning footage of Mummers and Straw Boys, dressed in straw hats and costumes, performing plays and songs as part of the ancient Irish tradition.

Made in 1998 Hidden Treasures was created and Directed by Anne O’Leary. Executive Producer Sé Merry Doyle. Music composed by KILA. The Series was produced by Loopline Films and is part of the Loopline Collection, housed at Irish Film Institute, Dublin.

The film is available to view here.