Irish Film Institute -RIP MARTIN MCLOONE (1950 – 2023)

RIP MARTIN MCLOONE (1950 – 2023)

It is with sadness that I write that Martin McLoone, a dear friend to many in the film community north and south and whose connection to IFI goes back over forty years, has passed away after a short illness. Having graduated in English from UCD (1970–73), he began his career in a secondary school in London where he was one of the first to teach film and media education. In 1980 Martin saw an opportunity to return to Ireland when the IFI was looking to appoint their first Film Education Officer, a position to which he was eminently suited.  Speaking to him at the time, I highlighted the fact he was bringing what was then rare in Ireland, a knowledge of the evolving field of film studies as pioneered by the British Film Institute’s Education Department and the Society for Education in Film and Television.  

Coupled with passion and commitment, Martin took as one of his initiatives the model of the BFI’s residential summer schools and applied it here. He choose Clongowes Wood College, Co. Kildare, as the venue for what were culturally ground-breaking film education schools, informed by the emerging disciplines of film theory and history, and attended primarily by educators. The lecturers and seminar leaders besides Martin were John Hill, his future colleague at Ulster University, Coleraine; Jim Cook of the BFI; and myself. Martin also promoted film and media education in Irish schools, encouraging the Department of Education to introduce the discipline, something brought to fruition by Stephanie McBride, Martin’s successor as IFI’s Education Officer. Additionally, he organised joint RTÉ/IFI television studies’ events that led to the landmark publication Television and Irish Society: 21 years of RTE (1984), which he co-edited. 

One of my abiding memories of Martin is our walking through the Eustace Street buildings, then owned by the Quakers, back in 1986, as a possible location for the IFI, then housed in unsuitable accommodation at 65 Harcourt Street. The premises on Eustace Street was perfectly matched to the ambition of the then IFI Board members, most of whom had become involved with IFI from around 1980, and who, wishing to modernise the organisation, were imagining a home for film culture in Ireland complete with cinemas, an education department, library, film archive and a convivial place to meet. It look six years for this dream to be realised, with the complex opening in 1992, though by then Martin had moved nearer to his childhood home of Derry, having taken a fulltime academic position at Ulster University.  

While there he wrote on a wide range of cultural topics from film and television to music and sport. His books include Rock and popular music in Ireland: before and after U2 (2012, with Noel McLaughlin); Film, media and popular culture in Ireland: cityscapes, landscapes, soundscapes (2008); and arguably the best single-authored volume on Irish cinema, Irish film: the emergence of a contemporary cinema (2000). His many publications and contributions to conferences marked him out as an elegant and reflective writer and speaker, and lead to his being awarded a doctorate based on his writings. A popular and engaging lecturer, many of his students now hold university positions. He retired from university life in 2014, by then professor of media studies, but continued to follow his many passions, including his beloved Spurs to whose games he regularly travelled. He will be missed by his many friends and wide family.  

Our thoughts are especially with his wife Cindy and daughters Katie, Maeve and Gráinne.  

May he rest in peace. 

Kevin Rockett, Fellow Emeritus of Trinity College Dublin, is an IFI Council member. He served as an IFI Board member from 1979 to 1996, and as Chairman from 1984 to 1991. 

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