Ireland a Nation

Ireland a Nation
R: Walter MacNamara. B: Walter MacNamara. D: Barry O’Brien, P J Bourke, Fred O’Donovan, Barney Magee, Patrick Ennis, Dominick Reilly. P: MacNamara Feature Film Co. USA 1914. Irish release (Gaelic Film Co) 1917.
Part 2 – 4, including actuality footage (1914-1920)

“The film is mainly concerned with Irish political and military events between 1798 and 1803. A review of the original version of the film in Irish Limelight in February 1917, following the first Dublin screenings, is the most complete and critical account seen of the film (…):
Ireland A Nation was marred by anachronism and inaccuracies. Some of these, in fact, were too patently ridiculous for serious criticism. The film opened with the passing of the Act of Union, in which an excellent reconstruction of the scene of the old Anglo-Irish House of Commons was spoiled by the delineations of Grattan and Castlereagh – the former depicted as heavy and opulent, and the latter – probably to please the gallery – as the very acme of masculine ugliness. A messenger from Dublin was shown bringing the news of the passing of the Act of Union in 1800 to Father Murphy (who was killed in 1798) as he was addressing his parishioners after Mass, and straightaway the priest (then two years dead) converted his congregation into an insurrectionary band and placed himself at their head. At the same time a deputation of Anti-Unionist M.P.s burst in on the studies of Robert Emmet, told him the Union was passed, and asked him to go to Napoleon for armed aid which, according to the film, Emmet immediately did. Fr Murphy with Emmet in Marshalea Lane Depot, Emmet taking the oath, giving evidence, and defending himself – in typical Yankee fashion – at his own trial, and Michael Dwyer apparently marrying Anne Devlin, and certainly taking off with her to Australia, were amongst other outstanding anachronisms and inaccuracies.’
The surviving film, amounts to approximately 26 minutes of dramatised material and about eight minutes of actuality footage, which are reels 2, 3 and 4 of the re-issued 1920 version of the film. (…) Actuality footage follows of a Home Rule meeting (1914); of Eamon de Valera’s visit to the USA (1919-20); of the deaths on hunger strike in 1920 of Terence McSwiney and Michael Fitzgerald; of the auxiliary military force, the Black and Tans, being reviewed by the British Prime Minister, Lloyd George, before being dispatched to Ireland; of the burning of buildings and military patrols during the War of Independence.”
Trinity College Dublin

Ireland a Nation was not a Hollywood production. The film was a highly charged political melodrama, the brainchild of Walter MacNamara, an Irish born American filmmaker. MacNamara formed his own company to produce a film about Ireland’s long struggle for independence with the intention of garnering sympathy in America for this Irish cause. To this end, the film’s narrative is rich in nationalist commentary that links the Irish cause to America’s own historical struggle for independence.”
High Beam Research

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