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 34 of 47 THE DEFENCE FORCES MAGAZINE | 35 the extra payment, such was the great demand for 19th Century costumes in Mullingar by those wishing to become extras, that it was reported, that the young ladies of Mullingar were approach- ing its more senior female citizens for long dresses and shawls, that many of these elderly ladies still wore as part of their attire. It appears, anything at all which could be perceived to date from the 1880s was commandeered by these young "Mullingar Heifers" wishing to avail of an extra few bob! During the intervals between shooting the racing scenes, im- promptu entertainment was provided by local Mullingar enter- tainers including, Mullingar Little Theatre actor, Pat Layde, from Patrick Street, who delighted the production company so much with his talents, that he was brought to London to film the mov- ies final scenes. The Harte sisters from the town also sang and danced, entertaining all present, adding a carnival atmosphere for all those budding Mullingar "Actors" gathered at Newbrook Racecourse. The Producers of the movie also sent a special invita- tion to a local 92-year-old Mullingar resident by the name of Mr Ernest Tyacke, to attend the shooting of the racecourse scenes. Why would such an invitation be sent to this local resident, you might ponder? Well, the reason it was explained was that this senior citizen of Mullingar had in fact been a District Inspector with the Royal Irish Constabulary in Mayo during the 1880s and had personally known Captain Charles Boycott during this period. When the movie was finally shown in Mullingar on Monday the 15th December 1947, there was great excitement around the town. Mullingar's citizens queued outside the Hibernian Cinema in Castle Street in anticipation of the screening of the movie. People, it appeared were eager to catch a glimpse of themselves, even fleetingly, on the silver screen. To be sure, many families around Mullingar have plenty of anecdotal stories relating to family members participation during the filing scenes of Captain Boycott in Mullingar. One such story emanates from this writer, and the stories of the "Captain Boycott days" in Mullingar offered to me by my late Grandmother, Teresa, over two decades ago. She would reminisce about accompany- ing her Father, Jimmy Kilmurray, on his Donkey and Cart along the road from their home in the Ex-Soldiers Houses in "Clown" to the Racecourse to make a "Few Bob" as extras on the movie. Suddenly, she would exclaim, "a big black car pulled up alongside the 'Ass-n-cart' and a young man protruded his head from the car and with a loud American drawl, inquired, 'Hi Guys, can you direct us to the "Mool-in-Goor Racetrack", 'Ahh sure, tis only at the end of the Boreen, Gossoon', was the reply of her Father, oblivious to whom he was speaking with. At this stage Granny would in- form everyone, that she 'nearly fell off the 'Ass-n-cart' in shock, indeed, even the "poor auld ass, Nelly" nearly collapsed with palpitations, for who was this young man that suddenly caused this calamity on the Clown road? Only the great Hollywood actor Stewart Granger". "Can you imagine", she would recount later in life, "A girl from 'Clown' getting to meet and chat with the most handsome actor in the world! And him in a limousine and me sitting on straw in an 'Ass-n-cart'!" In hindsight, this could only happen in the Ireland of yesterday. Today, when people hear that one is from Mullingar, the ques- tion is often posed as to why the town of Mullingar has produced so many excellent and fine artists of literature, canvas, stage, film and most tellingly, music? The answer to this, may possibly be, that for many of us, it's in our DNA, sure the older members of our families acted in a major movie during the 1940s, with the Hollywood silver screen icon, Stewart Granger. Tongue firmly in cheek of course, may I add! This ar ticle is by no means a definitive account on the mak- ing of the movie Captain Boycott in Mullingar, nor has every local anecdote been included. Its intention, by using primary source material, is to invoke a sense yearning and pride of an aspect of Mullingar's social and somewhat ar tistic history, that provided a piece of Hollywood, albeit for a brief moment, for many of our towns residents, some of whom have sadly long since depar ted us.

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