An Cosantóir

Dec 2018 Jan 2019

An Cosantóir the official magazine of the Irish Defence Forces and Reserve Defence Forces.

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Page 33 of 47

An Cosantóir Dec 2018/Jan 2019 34 | I t was the month of August in 1946 when Mullingar, a town still in "Emergency mode" following the ending of the Second World War the previous year, exchanged its hereto- fore-Military manoeuvres and searchlights for the glitter and bright lights of Hollywood's fin- est. Mullingar, for a brief moment, had become the home to such Hollywood Greats as movie director Frank Launder, actors Stewart Granger (King Solomon's Mines), Robert Donat (Hitch- cock's The 39 Steps), Irish actress, Kathleen Ryan (Christopher Columbus) and also the legend- ary Dublin actor Noel Purcell (Mutiny on the Bounty), to name but a few. These artistes of stage and screen were all present in Mullingar to shoot the racing scenes at Newbrook Racecourse for the historical movie 'Captain Boycott'. The movie was based on the writings of Irish author, Philip Rooney, in his factually based Irish Novel 'Captain Boycott'. An Interesting point to note at this juncture, is that Philip Rooney had a number of years previously, worked as a bank official with the Hibernian Bank in Mullingar. He had lodged with the Keane family in Mount Street while he lived here. Unsurprisingly, his chosen abode was right beside that Mullingar Citadel of the Arts, the County Hall (later Mullingar Arts Centre). The movie was set in Co Mayo during the period of the Irish Land War in the early 1880s, in which a Mayo land agent by the name of Captain Charles Boycott was socially ostracised by tenants and locals alike under the tuition of the local Land League, for demanding large payment's for rents and ruthless evictions for those who could not pay. Consequently, the name Boycott today, has become another noun in the English language meaning, to Ostracise. It was in July 1946 that an article appeared in the local West- meath Examiner informing its reader's that Producer, Mr Sidney Gilliat representing Denham Studios, had made contact with Dr A. J. Stanley, Chairman of the 'Mullingar Little Theatre Com- pany' requesting the cooperation of the local theatre company regarding filming scenes for a movie in Mullingar. The article further stated that it also sought 2,000 locals to appear in the crowd scenes to be filmed at the race course. Notwithstanding that the movie was mainly shot in locations in Kildare, Wicklow and of course Mayo, Mullingar's central location and the fine equine racecourse at Newbrook, which was noted for its Victorian architecture, ensured that it was to have its piece of Hollywood. Ledestown House, Mullingar also featured in the movie and for the novelty of the "Big Screen", became Lough Mask House, the Mayo residence of Captain Charles Boycott. To further ensure that the production company would receive the support of Mullingar's fine citizens as extras, a delegation from the movie company visited the local cinemas in Mullingar, that's right there was more than one cinema in the town, to speak with the townsfolk to encourage them into "threading the boards" as it were. This delegation included Assistant Producer, Mr Percy Hermes from London, Cecil Forde (Producer) and Irish Actor, Liam Redmond, who played the role of character, Martin Egan in the movie. It is also worth noting that members of the Defence Forces based at Columb Barracks, Mullingar were also involved as extras in the movie. This of course, long before the modern movie inven- tion of computer generated imagery in which a handful of extras can now be generated onto the screen and appear as to number in their thousands. Extras were paid in the region of 10/s with it increasing to 20/s a day if the local's brought their own 19th Cen- tury costumes. Indeed, other anecdotal reports suggest that the remuneration was far greater then that already outlined. Due to BY JASON MCKEVITT Mullingar 'Extras' in 'Captain Boycott'. Photo: Billy Gilligan, Westmeath Examiner, 1991

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