As I write, 10th February 2016, having been "rescued" from being destroyed, the film Mise Éire is being restored and this newly restored version will be released this year on DVD and Blu-ray as part of the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising. While funds were found to create this restoration, I sincerely hope extra funds will be made available to restore Saoirse?, which takes up where Mise Éire finished. There is a story behind all this and it happened before the above confirmation of restoration was given. It was related to me by a staff member at Gael-Linn in Dublin. It goes: "we knew that the negatives were stored in a lab in Amsterdam, Cinetone, and when I tried to make contact with them, with the idea of making a new print, found that they had gone bankrupt shortly before. They were in the hands of a receiver and I was told that the receiver had contacted any companies who’s films were in the vaults and that they were going to destroy any unclaimed films. They hadn’t contacted us (maybe because we had moved), but luckily I was able, with the help of the Dutch Film Archive to find out that our films were still there and would be released to us when we had paid some storage fees which had accrued. Took a little while to sort it, but we have had the negatives and some positives of the films returned here and we have them downstairs, because unfortunately they have no more room in the Irish Film Archive, where our other films are stored.
We are hoping to make a new print, with the guidance of the Archive, but even that is costly (around €30k) but have been told that actual restoration would be prohibitively expensive, and as the film is so old, would only really improve the rostrum shots. George Morrisson (the Director) stretched the film when he collected it, which means it’s not as bad as it might have been in terms of jerky movements! We have applied to the government who have a (small) fund for 1916 commemorations, but they haven’t agreed to fund the project."
UPDATE: Since the above background story was related to me (in May or June 2015), the Government have indeed come on board. As to how extensive the restoration will now be, remains to be seen. I would imagine great care is being taken to do the right thing, as I would suggest this may be a one-off project. Regardless of whether one thinks these two films are a one-sided version of these events or not, what cannot be denied is they contain an incredible wealth of priceless footage of the time and, for that alone, it is worth it. Both films are of the greatest importance in the history of Irish film making and deserve to be restored and preserved to the highest standards.
UPDATE (30th March 2016): The restoration of Mise Éire is coming to the end of the process. I have been informed the result will be a considerable improvement on the existing DVD. I will update again when there is specific information with regard to a release date.
UPDATE (30th May 2016): Good news. I have just been informed that while the restoration process has taken longer than expected, there is currently a slight delay while waiting on bonus material and some additional picture fixes. However, it is hoped the files will be handed over to the DVD producers within a couple of weeks.