Featured posts

    0 108

    Seán Hall begins a new series looking at the great directing career of Alfred Hitchcock

    Strangers On A Train was released on June 30th, 1951, directed by prolific auteur, Alfred Hitchcock, who had made over forty films before this in just over three decades. When many people think of Alfred Hitchcock, stars like Cary Grant, James Stewart and Grace Kelly spring to mind, yet, unless one was a Hitchcock aficionado, the cast of this film, which is ranked with the likes of Vertigo and North by Northwest as one of his classics, would be largely unfamiliar.

    The film was an adaptation of a novel of the same name, written by Patricia Highsmith, which had been released the previous year. Hitchcock obtained the rights for only $7,500, a pittance in Hollywood terms, since this was only Highsmith’s first novel.
    Another famous novelist, Raymond Chandler, was one of the screenwriters for the film, who regarded the premise as a “silly little story”. Chandler’s name did not appear in the credits however – all of his additions were removed since he had fallen out with Hitchcock, not just on story, but for deriding his weight!

    Both film and book follow a similar plot: a famous tennis player, Guy Haines (Farley Granger) meets a sociable stranger named Bruno Antony (Robert Walker) whilst taking a train.

    Bruno expresses an unhealthy knowledge in Guy’s private life, particularly the subject of his ongoing divorce and current relationship with a Senator’s daughter, Anne Morton (Ruth Roman).

    Bruno proposes hypothetically that Guy murder his father, who wishes to institutionalise his son, and he murder Guy’s wife, so that no one can tie the other to the murder since neither know each other.

    Guy’s wife decides to cancel the divorce, ruining his love life so she can continue to enjoy the lifestyle of being a celebrity’s wife.

    Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

      0 43

      By Alison Martin

      Over the years, much has been written about Éamon de Valera. Relatively little by comparison, has been written about the life and career of his wife, Sinéad. Unbeknown to many however, Sinéad had her own varied career, first as a teacher and amateur actress, and then as a children’s author.

      Sinéad, or Jane Flanagan, as she was originally known, was born in Balbriggan, Co. Dublin, in June, 1878.
      She was the second eldest of five surviving children born to Margaret Byrne and Laurence Flanagan, a carpenter who later became a clerk of works with the building firm of Kiernan of Talbot Street.

      When Sinéad was seven, the family moved to Munster Street, Phibsboro in order for her father to take up an appointment overseeing the building of St. Peter’s church. Sinéad was educated at St Francis Xavier School in Drumcondra, where from a young age her love for acting was readily apparent. Having written down some memories of her early life for her youngest son Terry’s memoirs, Sinéad later recalled that as a young girl ‘my wish was for the stage’.

      According to her later recollections, she ‘always had a part in the school plays’. Moreover by the age of twelve, she had already begun to compose her own. She also developed an interest in teaching and at the age of twelve, she became a school monitor.

      In 1896, at the age of eighteen, she enrolled at the teacher training college in Baggot Street. Whilst studying at the college, she also continued to pursue her interest in acting and recalled having important parts in two of the drama productions.

      Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

        0 100

        New York washed its hands of Mary Mallon 150 years ago, writes David E. Norris

        Mary Mallon was born in Cookstown, County Tyrone, on 23rd September, 1869. She emigrated to New York, alone, when she was just fifteen.

        At a time when New York’s Lower East Side witnessed over 4,000 typhoid cases a year, she became a cook. Unfortunately she was also one of America’s earliest identified typhoid carriers. As a cook she infected people. As a carrier she needed to be quarantined. She was, for a total of 25 years, and earned the nickname ‘Typhoid Mary’.

        Back in 1906, Typhoid was known to be a disease linked to dirt and squalor. Polluted water was the most common source of infection. Any routine inspection of drinking water, outhouses or cesspools was usually enough to find the cause of an outbreak. Failing that, dairy products and raw food were the second most likely source.

        In Mary Mallon’s case, things took a different turn. An outbreak occurred in a privately rented house on Oyster Bay. The man renting it was the president of The Lincoln Bank. The embarrassed owner of the house, a man named George Thompson, called in a sanitary engineer named Dr. George Soper, whose reputation was built on writing papers on street cleaning techniques, safe waste disposal and efficient air ventilation.

        He analysed the goings on in the household over the 14-day incubation period of a typhoid outbreak and concluded that Mary Mallon was suspect number one.

        She had, after all, a track record of being employed as a cook at rich households which had experienced typhoid outbreaks over the previous six years. When they occurred she simply moved on.

        Unfortunately for George Soper, whereas he excelled at sanitary detection work he was sadly lacking at what are now called interpersonal skills.

        When he marched into Mary’s place of work to demand ‘personal specimens’, she showed him the door by pointing a carving fork at him!

        To make matters worse, he staked out her flat, bribed her partner and made another attempt at ‘extracting some evidence’ from Mary and again she showed him short shrift.
        Only then was the New York Health Department called in.

        Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

          0 111

          As the Rugby World Cup kicks off in Japan, Seán Creedon talks to former Irish rugby international Tony Ward about the many highs – and a few lows – of his sporting life.

          The first soccer World Cup was staged in Uruguay in 1930, but it would be another 57 years before sports fans would get to experience a Rugby World Cup tournament.

          The competition, which was staged in Australia and New Zealand in 1987, came too late for many of Ireland’s former rugby stars.

          Players like Jack Kyle, Tony O’Reilly, Willie John McBride and Mick Gibson had to be content with the old Five Nations Championship every spring against England, Scotland, Wales and France to show what they could do.

          However, Tony Ward, who has been the victim of some strange decisions by Irish Rugby selectors during his career, can tell his grandchildren that he did play for his country in the first-ever World Cup tournament.

          Ward wore the number 10 jersey in the 46-19 win over Canada in Dunedin at the end of May 1987, and in the 32-9 win over Tonga at Ballymore, Brisbane in June, 1987. Paul Dean started Ireland’s first game where we were beaten by Wales and Dean was back at fly-half for the final game in our group when we lost to Australia.

          The game against Tonga was to be the last of Ward’s 19 caps in an era where international players didn’t win anything like the number of caps current players do.

          ‘‘What I remember from that game in Ballymore was a banner on the terraces with the slogan K.R.A.M, which meant ‘Keep Rovers at Milltown’, and as a former Rovers player the banner resonated with me,’’ said Tony.

          Ireland has competed at all eight Rugby World Cup tournaments and it will be nine later this month when the tournament is staged in Japan for the first time.

          Our first game is against Scotland in Yokohama on September 22 and the other countries in our group are Japan, Russia and Samoa.

          This time round Ward probably won’t be travelling to Japan as he took early retirement as Rugby Editor of the Irish Independent earlier this year. However, he hopes to write some columns on the tournament.
          I sat down with Tony in the famous Goat Grill sporting pub in Dublin to talk about Ireland’s chances in the Rugby World Cup, but first we rolled back the years to the career of one of Ireland’s most talented rugby players, who also won an FAI Cup medal with Limerick in 1982.

          Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

            0 58

            Cork’s Famous Quays

            As Cork’s famous quays undergo a process of change, Maurice O’Brien takes a look back at their interesting history

            Cork’s Coat of Arms bears a timeless message, namely that sea and seaport are defining features for the city.
            Its accompanying motto Statio Bene Fide Carinis (translated as a safe harbour for ships) can certainly be taken as a reference to the enormous lower harbour between Cobh and Roches Point, where the greatest of modern vessels find sufficient depth to enter the calm waters away from the Atlantic and Irish Sea.

            However, the age-old motto refers also to the fact that Cork city, nearly fifteen nautical miles inland, has for centuries boasted a dockland on its doorstep.

            Coal boats plied to the famous Coal Quay, now part of the city centre. Bridges near the City Hall and Brian Boru Street once had opening spans to allow ships to travel to George’s Quay and Merchants Quay on the south and north channels of the River Lee respectively.

            At the height of its activity the city quays occupied an extremely busy series of wharfs below and around the meeting point of the two channels. From the 1940s to the 1980s these thriving docks were at their maximum tonnage feeding the automotive, grain, livestock and fruit importation industries to mention but a few. They added colour, character, sound and spectacle to city life.

            Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

              0 43

              The Dubliner was regarded as one of the greats in the Irish folk music world, writes Maolsheachlann O Ceallaigh

              “The Fields of Athenry”, the melancholy ballad commemorating the Great Irish Famine, has become such a standard in both concert hall and sports stadium that many people assume it’s a traditional number that has been around forever. However, the song (written by Pete St. John) is a relative newcomer, first released in 1979.

              Its original singer was Danny Doyle, a giant of the Irish folk and ballad revival, who died in August of this year at the age of seventy-nine.

              It was only one of many hits that Danny Doyle enjoyed here in the sixties and seventies; he topped the Irish charts on three occasions.

              Perhaps Doyle’s most frequently cited achievement was to knock Abba, who were at the height of their success, from the number one spot in the Irish charts – “Take a Chance on Me” was replaced by “Dublin in the Rare Auld Times” (also written by Pete St. John) in 1978.

              His other number one hits were “Whiskey on a Sunday”, (which recalls a famous street performer in Liverpool), and the touching “A Daisy a Day”, a song about the enduring love of a husband for his wife.

              Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

                0 88

                As the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks approaches, Ibar Quirke examines the life of the first official casualty, New York City Fire Department chaplain and Franciscan priest Mychal Judge, a figure many believe to be a candidate for canonisation.

                Fr Mychal Judge OFM was born as Robert Emmett Judge on 11th May, 1933, in Brooklyn to Michael Judge and Mary Fallon, immigrants from Keshcarrigan and Drumkeerin, Co Leitrim.

                In order to make ends meet financially for his parents and sisters, Dymphna and Erin, shone shoes at Penn Station, around the corner from St Francis of Assisi Church, from the age of six.

                He admired the work and simple life-style of the friars whom he knew there. Despite his mother’s opposition, he began training for the Franciscans in 1948 and was professed in 1958. Ordained as a priest in 1961, he spelled his religious name ‘Mychal’ to distinguish himself from all the other ‘Father Michaels’ in the Order.

                Fr. Mychal served throughout the USA and in 1986 returned to the location that first inspired his vocation. He remained attached to that friary until his death.

                The clergyman was beloved of the poor. He served all those in need regardless of gender, race and ethnicity, age, sexual orientation and religious persuasion.

                A famous anecdote recounts how during a visit to Carlstadt he intervened as a distraught man held his wife and child at gunpoint.

                Holding his habit in one hand, the priest scaled a ladder to intervene. Fr .Mychal gently called the man to the window and invited him for coffee. His intervention saved the lives of all involved.

                His involvement with the New York City Fire Department commenced in 1992 when he was appointed Chaplain there and assigned to serve the boroughs of Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island.

                As a Fire Department chaplain, he was a member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Often working for 16 hours daily, he offered prayers at fires and rescues and counselled fire-fighters and their families.
                He visited sick and injured people in local hospitals and consoled those who were bereaved. His power to console was legendary.

                Fr. Mychal was first official casualty of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. On the morning of 11th September 2001, on hearing of the disaster, he changed out of his habit into his FDNY uniform and drove to the scene. As he rushed into the North Tower with fire-fighters, Mayor Rudy Giuliani called out “Fr. Mike, please pray for us”.

                Continue reading in this week’s issue of Ireland’s Own

                  0 136

                  The first Dublin Arts and Human Rights festival to showcase and highlight the extraordinary work of human rights defenders, past and present, in Ireland and around the world will take place in Dublin in mid-to-late September. Here Freda Manweiler focuses on the courageous Irishwomen active during WWII including Katherine Anne McCarthy, Mary Cummins, Catherine Crean, and Margaret Kelly, all who will be featured in the Escape Routes and Freedom Trails – European Solidarity between Nations event which takes place on September 19th.


                  Katherine (Kate) Anne McCarthy, also known as Sr Marie-Laurence, was originally from Drimoleague in County Cork.
                  Aged 18, Kate joined the Franciscan religious order as a nun. This is where she received the name Sir Marie-Laurence.
                  She was transferred to the market town of Béthune, in Northern France, where she worked as a religious nurse and was there when the first World War broke out.

                  The town became a major hospital centre and Kate nursed ‘Allied and some German wounded’. After the war, Kate went to America to work, and returned to Béthune just before the beginning of WWII.

                  She worked as a nurse and joined the Musée de l’Homme resistance group in Northern France, assisting Allied servicemen to escape. She was arrested by the Gestapo in June, 1941, and was tortured and spent over a year in solitary confinement.
                  She was sentenced to death but instead, after time spent in several prisons, she was sent to the notorious Ravensbruck Concentration camp for women north of Berlin, where she nearly starved to death.

                  Kate contracted typhus and was four times designated for the crematorium by the ‘huntsman’ who selected women unfit for hard labour.

                  Kate witnessed women being beaten to death and recalled how she and others were forced to stand in silence for hours in rain and snow, as fellow prisoners collapsed around them from exhaustion and hunger.

                  She was forced to do hard labour for 12 hours at a time – her only food a ladle of turnip. Dogs were unleashed on the prisoners if they were not working hard enough.

                  Prisoners were also severely beaten, a fate Sr. Kate also suffered.

                  Kate helped over 120 allied servicemen escape from German occupied France during the war.
                  Sister Kate survived the war and returned to Ireland where she lived for the rest of her life becoming Mother Superior of the Honan Home Convent in Cork until her death in 1971.

                  Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

                    0 67

                    By Arthur Flynn

                    ‘Into the West’ was one of several top-class films to come from Irish production teams during the 1990s. The other important films included The Crying Game and The Miracle from Neil Jordan, The Boxer, The Commitments, In the Name of the Father, War of the Buttons and The Playboys.

                    Into the West, about Irish travellers, was a Channel Four production from a script by Jim Sheridan and David Keating and directed by Mike Newell. Jim Sheridan did not intend to write simply for children, although the film mainly follows two young children on the run, as the central characters.

                    The cinematographer was Newton Thomas Sigel with music by Patrick Doyle and editing by Peter Boyle.
                    The film had a veritable near all- Irish all-star cast. Gabriel Byrne who played Papa Reilly, King of the Travellers, stated that it was one of the best scripts he had ever read. His leading lady, Ellen Barkin, was also greatly impressed by the script and signed on.

                    After much searching and interviewing the two boys were cast. They were played by six-year-old Ciarán Fitzgerald as Ossie and eleven-year-old, Rúaidhrí Conroy as Tayto. Gabriel Byrne and Ellen Barkin were married to each other when the film was made.

                    The other leading members of the cast included David Kelly as Grandfather, Johnny Murphy as Tracker, Colm Meaney as Barreller, John Kavanagh as Hartnett, Brendan Gleeson as Inspector Bolger and Jim Norton as Super O’Mara.
                    The name of the white horse is Tír na nÓg. This is the Irish for ‘Land of Eternal Youth.’ Some tricks of the trade were employed during filming, with six identical white horses, three Irish and three French, being used as Tír na nÓg.

                    Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own

                    STAY CONNECTED