Kathleen Mavourneen (1906)

Kathleen Mavourneen
R: Edwin S. Porter. B: Inspired by the play ‘Kathleen Mavourneen, or Saint Patrick’s Eve’ by William Travers. K: Edwin S. Porter. D: Kitty O’Neil, Walter Griswoll, H L Bascomb, W R Floyd, E M Leslie, N B Clarke, J McDovall, Jeannie Clifford, C F Seabert, D R Alien, D J McGinnis, W F Borroughs. P: Thomas A Edison. USA 1906

“At ruins in Ireland Kathleen meets Captain Clearfield, her family’s landlord, who attempts to seduce her. She is rescued by Terence O’Moore, her boyfriend. Clearfield is determined to have Kathleen and arranges to deprive Kathleen’s father of the money he plans to use to pay back a mortgage. Clearfield then tries to blackmail Kathleen into marrying him, but she refuses. Soldiers arrive to take possession of Kathleen’s family cottage, but they are driven off, and then chased by a mob, who force one of them to jump into a river. Meanwhile, Clearfield and his accomplice Dugan go to Kathleen’s home in order to kidnap her. Her father returns to the parlour just as the pair are about to chloroform Kathleen. Clearfield pounces on the old man, knocks him out, and takes off with Kathleen.

Dugan then sets fire to the room where Kathleen’s father is lying unconscious and flees. Terence sees the fire, enters the house, and saves the old man. Disguised as an old woman, Terence discovers the cave where Kathleen is being held. Infiltrating the cave, offers the captors drink. He discards his disguise, and after a fight, overcomes the kidnappers and rescues Kathleen. Terence also fights Clearfield and Dugan who arrive just as the couple are escaping. Celebrations in front of a thatched cottage with Ireland dancers are held for Kathleen’s freedom and to announce the couple’s engagement. After the couple get married they are seen leaving a church while children throw flowers at the couple.”
Trinity College Dublin

“Kathleen Mavourneen” is a song, written in 1837, composed by Frederick Crouch with lyrics by Marion Crawford,  It was popular during the American Civil War. “Mavourneen” is a term of endearment derived from the Irish Gaelic mo mhuirnín, meaning ‘my beloved.’ The Irish soprano Catherine Hayes (1818-1861), the Hibernian prima donna, was the first Irish woman to sing at La Scala in Milan. She learned ‘Kathleen Mavourneen’ while training in Dublin. It became her signature tune during concerts and in fact, Catherine Hayes sang it for Queen Victoria and over 500 royal guests during a concert performed at Buckingham Palace in June 1849. During several very successful years in Italy, Catherine Hayes became the foremost ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’ in the 1840’s. She toured around the world between 1851 and 1856. (…) The song ‘Kathleen Mavourneen’ gained popularity with American audiences as a direct result of the extensive touring of Catherine Hayes. The song plays a prominent role in Michael Shaara’s Civil War historical novel The Killer Angels and its film adaptation Gettysburg [1993]. (…)

Several silent films were titled ‘Kathleen Mavourneen’ with the first such drama being produced in 1906 starring Kitty O’Neil, Walter Griswoll and H.L. Bascomb. Other such silent film titles were produced in 1911, 1913, and 1919. This last one starred Theda Bara. Two other films with this title, but using sound, were produced in 1930 and 1937. Of the 1919 film, Irish and Catholic groups protested not only the depiction of Ireland, but of a Jewish actress in the leading role. Fox Film Corporation pulled the film after several movie-theater riots and bomb threats.”
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