Film Ireland began publication in 1987 under the title Filmbase News. The magazine was initially a photocopied newsletter distributed to members of the organisation. The first issue contained news about current short and feature film productions, information on funding schemes, and film festival reports. According to the magazine’s first editor, Johnny Gogan (who shared the credit “compiled by” with Mike Collins and John Gormley in early issues): “The 1987 Film Base AGM had called for a better distribution of information to the growing membership. Ireland was a word-of-mouth culture where information was guarded and opinions often verbalised on bar-stools but less often committed to print. The film scene was no exception. Vinny McCabe and Mike Collins had taken up the cause of a newsletter after the AGM and I was dragged in to assist their information sub-committee, joined by John Gormley (now TD)”.
In 1992, after thirty issues, Filmbase News changed its name to Film Ireland. Editor Patrick Barrett explained that the change of name was intended to reflect the magazine’s widening audience, but former editor Johnny Gogan later stated that “the name change [was] presented as a fait accompli to the board and the organisation”. Gogan opposed the move to make the publication into a national magazine “out of a belief in the parochial which has endured”, while later editor Hugh Linehan considered it “a progressive and ambitious move, but one which threw up its own challenges”.
Other editors of the magazine included Paul Power, who maintained the magazine’s status as a journal of record by keeping “local writers, directors, and producers in the frame of almost every story”;Hugh Linehan, who went on to edit The Ticket, the weekly entertainment supplement of The Irish Times Ted Sheehy, Ireland correspondent of Screen International, “who was often critical of the lack of a professional film grammar within much Irish film production”; and Tony Keily, who believed that film criticism and publication “should be radicated in a common film culture. And the job of a publication like Film Ireland is to provide a small space for that culture to grow. A pluralist space that doesn’t obviously belong to anybody”. The Film Ireland website, FilmIreland.net, was established in 2002.
In early 2013, after over 25 years in publication, Filmbase decided to cease publication of the magazine. Reductions in funding to Filmbase made the continued publication of the magazine unsustainable and, despite the commitment and dedication of staff, contributors and the Irish filmmaking community, the cost of print publication was deemed unfeasible. The decision was made to make Film Ireland an online-only resource and is currently under the editorship of Steven Galvin.