The Accidental Anthropologist: Benjamin T. Gault

BSL-English supported event

An extremely rare and precious silent film collection, discovered in the US, depicting rural life in Ireland in the 1920s, and presented at HippFest by Kathy Rose O’Regan of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

In 1925-1926, during the early years of the Irish Free State, American naturalist Benjamin T. Gault spent time in west Kerry and Cork, collecting seabirds and other wildlife specimens.  By that time filmmaking was a tool for documenting fieldwork, like notetaking, sketching, or photography. As any thorough scientist would, Gault also turned his lens to the wider habitat, capturing the local people as they went about their business, swarming out of church, gathering at the races, and even goofing for the camera.

Upon his return home, he filed his footage away and it was never seen.  A search started by a curious local, Mícheál Ó Mainnín, who had heard tales of Gault’s visit from his grandfather, led to the discovery of 19 rolls of 35mm nitrate negatives among Gault’s fieldnotes. 

Now we have the unique chance to step back in time with Kathy Rose O’Regan, who directed the digitisation of the films, and who will unravel the story of how the films were unearthed and what they reveal about Ireland’s past and present. 

With thanks to: San Francisco Silent Film Festival, Irish Film Institute, and Chicago Academy of Sciences

Performing live: Günter Buchwald (violin)

Run time 1h 5m approx. including Q&A


10 Hope Street Bo'ness
EH51 0AA

01324 506850


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