By Stan McCormack

The death of Sean Connery was the end of an era for many people, who loved the James Bond films. He has played an Irishman in a number of movies and one of the films that had a very strong Irish connection was The First Great Train Robbery (1979), where he nearly fell off a train, which would have shortened his great career.

In 1975, Michael Crichton wrote this bestseller, and he went on to have a No. 1 movie Jurassic Park, directed by Stephen Spielberg, and a No. 1 TV series ER among other successes.

The First Great Train Robbery (1979) cost seven million dollars to make and it was based on the true story of the first ever robbery on a train in 1855, in which gold was robbed while being shipped to the British Army.
Sean Connery originally turned down the film after reading the script, judging it “too heavy”. He was asked to reconsider and after reading the original novel, met Crichton, and changed his mind.

The stars of the film were Connery, best remembered as the ultimate James Bond in six films between 1962-71, and winner of Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards in 1988 for his role in The Untouchables; Donald Sutherland and Lesley Anne Down the English actress best known for her TV role in Upstairs Downstairs.

Nuala Holloway from Moate, Co Westmeath and former Miss Ireland (the only winner from Co. Westmeath) had a part in the film, and also doubled for Miss Down. She went on to become a noted portrait artist for her portraits of President McAleese, Seve Ballesteros etc

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own