Transcript: Interactive Discussion on Ireland's Easter Rising

The following is a transcript of the LIVE members' chat hosted here at TheWildGeese.com on Saturday, April 11, 2015. Some editing has been applied for clarity.

The Wild Geese:   Céad míle fáilte, a chairde! So glad to see each one of you who have stopped by for today’s LIVE Community Chat here at TheWildGeese.Irish.

We are discussing the events of and themes around Ireland's 1916 Easter Rising.  We are joined by a special panel of guests and sponsors of this Easter Rising focus, including Dave and Colin Farrell of Tile Media, author Mary Thorpe, and our own Miltary Editor, Robert A. Mosher.

We’ll be giving away a number of items to participants in the chat whose names will be drawn at random at the end of our time together today.

These items are:

     * One copy of “A Terrible Beauty," courtesy of Wild Geese Irish Heritage Partner Tile Media; 

     * Two 15”x10” copies of the Easter Proclamation, courtesy of AnLar.TV;

     * An Easter Rising Commemorative Coin from our Irish Heritage Partner 1916Uprising.ie

My name is Ryan O’Rourke, and I’ll be the moderator for our discussion.

Welcome to everyone!

Jim Curley:  Excellent timing. Our little club in NJ is looking for ways to commemorate the 100th anniversary next April and I hope to get some ideas from this.

The Wild Geese:  That's great, Jim.

That's Just How It Was:   Hello everyone. My name is Mary Thorpe. I have written a number of blogs on The Wild Geese about the 1916 Easter Rising. I am also the author of That's Just How It Was.

Colin Farrell:  Hi Mary

The Wild Geese:  Hi, Mary. Great to have you with us.

That's Just How It Was:  Thank you

Gerry Regan:  Hi Mary, delighted you could join us! And thank you for your stupendous labor of love, your series on the leading figures of 1916 that graces our pages.

Colin Farrell:  Hi everyone!

The Wild Geese:  Glad to have you with us.

Colin Farrell:  Glad to be here.

The Wild Geese:  Colin, we'd love to have you tell us just a bit about "A Terrible Beauty.”

Colin Farrell:  'A Terrible Beauty' is a film we made about the Battle of Mount Street Bridge and the fighting around the Four Courts area.

Gerry Regan:  Colin, what commended that focus to you and your team? Why not Jacob's Factory or St. Stephen's Green? or the GPO?

Colin Farrell:  We were looking to make something that was a little different to what was already out there so we decided that instead of focusing on just the Irish Rebels, we would broaden it to look at the story from three different perspectives: The Irish Volunteers, British soldiers and also the civilians caught in the middle. We also decided to focus on the 'ordinary' foot soldiers on all sides.

Gerry Regan:  How did the combat at Mount Street Bridge lend itself to that approach, Colin?

Colin Farrell:  For a start, Mount Street saw some of the fiercest fighting during Easter week and had a huge number of British casualties

Gerry Regan:  BTW, I want to express my gratitude to have Robert Mosher with us today too. Robert toils as our Military History Editor and is an amazing resource for we devotees of the Irish military experience worldwide.

Kelly O’Rourke:  Colin, did you have extensive knowledge of the Rising before you started working on the film? What sort of research did you do?

That's Just How It Was:  It must be wonderful to be able to do something that that you enjoy ; and you are doing just this in your film making .

Colin Farrell:  I would have had some knowledge before we started but I couldn't claim to have been an expert.

Robert A Mosher:  I think you can confess to the label now, Colin.

Colin Farrell:  The narrative for the film came directly from the first hand accounts that were left from all sides.

Colin Farrell:  Haha, thanks Robert!  To be honest, the Rising is such a complex story that I'm still learning new things all the time.

Robert A Mosher:  Aren't we all, thanks for your contributions.

Gerry Regan:  By the way, Colin, Mount Street Bridge came to my attention when I learned how so few men tied up hundreds of British soldiers for the better part of Easter Week.

Colin Farrell:  Yes Gerry, that is perhaps the most interesting part of the battle.  It's amazing that so few men were able to hold off thousands of British soldiers. The tactics by the British of course helped.

Robert A Mosher:  The fighting at Mount Street does raise some interesting points about what might have happened if the full numbers of Volunteers etc had turned out

That's Just How It Was:  And if the armoury had been available...

Colin Farrell:  It's something I think about all the time Robert

Robert A Mosher:  Yes - the British commanders on scene were told to hurry it up and push for speed rather than prudence.

Robert A Mosher:  The major problems for the Volunteers were lack of numbers, lack of automatic weapons and artillery, and poor communications.

John G. Molloy:  Good afternoon all. I'm sorry that I'm late. My Grandfather fought at St. Stephen's Green with the Countess so I am very interested in the subject.

The Wild Geese:  Hi, John. Welcome to the discussion.

Rose Maurer:  I finally realised the pinging meant the chat was underway! Greetings to all from South Africa,

Colin Farrell:  Hi!

The Wild Geese:  Hi, Rose!

Gerry Regan:  The killing done by the Irish volunteers portrayed in the film seemed, not staged, not mechanical, but calculating and even cathartic. But I never lost sight of what each life represented -- a human being. An astounding feat. Here's a trailer for the film, clocking in at 1:56. Well worth watching!

This film is a cinematic coup in my view, nothing less. It has raised the bar for docudramas, as far as I'm concerned.

Colin Farrell:  Thanks Gerry, you're very kind

Jim Curley:  The 50th anniversary celebration in 1966 focused almost entirely on the rebels. There is some talk about making the centennial event more inclusive, i.e., as your movie does, by including those Irish who fought on the other side. How do you stand on this issue?

Colin Farrell:  I feel that almost 100 years later, it is very important to tell the story from all sides to see the 'real' history but I don't think we should be ashamed to celebrate our history either.

Robert A Mosher:  Colin - agreed - you have to have as many sides of the story as possible to get close to a real understanding.

Colin Farrell:  I'm all for inclusiveity but I don't really think it's appropriate to have the royal family over for the celebrations.  For them as much as us. I'd like to see the ordinary soldiers recognised a little more.

Robert A Mosher:  Agreed, Colin - always most interesting to hear about the poor bloody infantry of any army.

Colin Farrell:  They were just young guys who signed up to fight in France so to be listed as 'dying on the home front' to me doesn't honour them; almost like a training ground accident, not in combat.

Robert A Mosher:  But that itself is an interesting aspect of the story as some of them were Redmond's Volunteers who enlisted.

Colin Farrell:  True

Kelly O’Rourke:  Mary did a good job in her series of honoring some of the lesser-known fighters.

Colin Farrell:  I'm looking forward to reading them.

The Wild Geese:  Yes, be sure to check out Mary Thorpe's series of articles here.

Jim Curley:  Colin, would you talk a bit about the reception the movie has received?

Colin Farrell:  Jim - The film as been received really well with very few exceptions.  In certain screenings to a staunchly republican audience, we were a little nervous about the reaction but it never really materialises.  Everyone seems to be able to see it for what it is - A story that is trying to be impartial.

Gerry Regan:  Colin, I was struck by the arrogance displayed by the British army officer cadre heading to Mount Street, to their slaughter. It was hard to find them sympathetic, but somehow your film doesn't demonize them, but shows them as the all too flawed human beings.

Robert A Mosher:  The mixed qualities of the leadership are an interesting aspect and the planning was a mix of genius and ineptitude - perhaps typical of amateur soldiers everywhere

Rose Maurer:  The tragedy of any war, is that the 'footsoldiers' averaged 16 - 18 years, and were actually cannon fodder, so to speak - what a waste of so many young lives.

Kelly O’Rourke:  True, Rose.

Colin Farrell:  I suppose people need to draw their own conclusions, we just tried to present the story in as real a way as possible...I agree Robert.  To me, that is a very important point too, Rose.

Robert A Mosher:  Gerry - I didn't take as arrogance as much as not expecting what they were coming up against - and higher level commanders told them to hurry it up.

That's Just How It Was:  Yes I do agree with that. However, Eoin MacNeil was on the button when he wanted to call it off.

Robert A Mosher:  Mary - yes and no, Pearse's sacrifice idea was probably closer to the mark even if the entire Volunteers had turned out.

That's Just How It Was:  Also, there was a real issue between the leaders and who they were allowing into the secret planning.

Robert A Mosher:  Mary - yes, the downfall of the conspiracy within a conspiracy approach.

Kieron Punch:  Robert, many of the British who fought at Mount Street bridge were raw recruits who had never fired their weapons before. Some thought they had been shot by Volunteers when they had actually been struck by the recoil of their own Lee Enfields.

Robert A Mosher:  Kieron - yes, being forced to the ground by Volunteer fire forced the British into deeper groups - but they also did move quickly to try and move around the flanks which eventually worked.

Gerry Regan:  Colin, didn't the commanders there demand their men charge into the face of that blistering gunfire, refusing to believe that the Irish would resist to the last? The British at Mount Street, and elsewhere, were victimized, in part, by belief in their own propaganda and belief in their own superiority.

Rose Maurer:  Doesn't this epitomise war over the centuries?

Colin Farrell:  Gerry - The commanders in HQ were responsible for the order to keep pushing forward.  McConkey tried to get them to use a different route but was told to press forward.

John G. Molloy:  In 1963 my Grandfather and I traveled round trip to Europe on an English ship. My Grandfather found a sailor working on the ship who had fought for the English during Easter week. They spent hours together on the ship and were able to identify with each other so well. I learned a great deal.

Gerry Regan:  John, you must write about your grandfather's experience on TheWildGeese.Irish!  Before I forget to mention, gang, among the prizes on offer today, gang, is a gold-plated coin commemorating the Rising, courtesy of www.1916uprising.ie.

Here's a close-up view of the item to be raffled off today.

That's Just How It Was:  Well now Gerry - that would be worth winning.

John G. Molloy:  Gerry - I'll do that.

Robert A Mosher:  John - looking forward to that!

Gerry Regan:  Also, before I forget, here's a great place to learn more about 'A Terrible Beauty': http://www.1916film.com/

Colin Farrell:  We have a DVD to give away also!

That's Just How It Was:  I will look forward to seeing 'A Terrible Beauty. '

Gerry Regan:  Is 'A Terrible Beauty' on the road, screening beyond Dublin in the days and weeks ahead?  If someone wanted to facilitate a screening locally, might they do that?

Colin Farrell:  We have nothing planned outside of Ireland at the moment but later in the year we will be screening again in the States...probably in the autumn.

John G. Molloy:  Please tell us how we can purchase "A Terrible Beauty."

Colin Farrell:  Gerry - Of course, we are always open to any screening.  John - Here's the link - http://www.1916film.com/store/a-terrible-beauty-dvd

If anyone does want to set up a screening you can contact me at colin@tilemedia.ie at any stage

Rose Maurer:  I have a rather naive question - surely the troops are sacrificed, whilst the powers that be sit in the comfort of their panelled offices? I do acknowledge that this was not applicable to the Easter uprising - or was it?

Robert A Mosher:  Rose - it's a fact of life about armies everywhere, especially modern ones.

Jim Curley:  Good question, Rose!

Gerry Regan:  Yes, Rose, I find your question fascinating too.

That's Just How It Was:  Rose - The Leaders and the Commanders were all in situ; which is why they were all caught.

Robert A Mosher:  The size and nature of the force fielded by the Volunteers and the 'mission' that Pearse had for them required that the leaders be present.  Though it's worth noting that the GPO was not the center of serious British attack until later in the week.

Colin Farrell:  Robert - I think the secrecy of it all really hindered things a lot

Robert A Mosher:   Agreed, Colin - and the divisions in the Volunteers leadership.

Colin Farrell:  You had a lot of Volunteers in the outskirts of the Dublin and around the country waiting for orders that never really came.

Kieron Punch:  Gerry, the British troops in Dublin were little different from Kitchener's 'New Army' troops who were slaughtered at the Somme 2 months later. They were so raw that they were not believed capable of sophisticated tactics.

Rose Maurer:  The tragedies of pitting neighbours against each other, there was no trust, and the grieving of wives and children has continued for over a century.

Gerry Regan:  Inspired by your question, Rose ... I'm struck too by the vehemence, the fury evidenced by the Irish in Dublin in 1916. Where did these farm boys and clerks learn to fight, and hate, and so quickly?

Robert A Mosher:  Gerry - can't address the motivations which were probably different from one to another - but the Volunteers had been training for almost two years by Easter 1916

Colin Farrell:  If you look at somewhere like Ashbourne, it was all Irish fighting Irish, except one RIC inspector.

Robert A Mosher:  Colin - yes, the real tragedy that almost from 1916 to 1923 was a civil war.

Colin Farrell:  Robert - very much so 

Rose Maurer:  Gerry, this tragedy, in essence between two different faiths is unforgivable - I have no right, but I'd dearly love to see a united Ireland!

That's Just How It Was:  Guess what Rose; most Irish people would love to see that too. I do not see it happening in my lifetime.

Gerry Regan:  To kill another human being takes a special kind of commitment, it seems to me. Reading about the invasion of North Africa in the fall of 1942, I note that the Americans, engaged in their first combat, did not have that hatred, that fury, that toughness, that they developed a few months later.

Robert A Mosher:  North Africa was a problem because we were facing at first teh French and we wanted them to change sides not fight - we actually tried to hide the Brits a bit there!

Jim Curley:  Any anecdotes about the filming that you'd like to share, Colin?

Colin Farrell:  Jim - We were very lucky with our team that everyone saw the importance of telling the story so went above and beyond what was expected of them. We were also helped a lot by the army; we filmed on a number of barracks.

Gerry Regan:  Colin, you played a leading role in the film, as an actor. Whom did you portray in the film?  

Colin Farrell:  I played a Volunteer sniper called Frank Shouldice, who was firing from the Jameson Malthouse. It was very funny because Dave actually knew him when he was a kid!

The Wild Geese:  We've made the drawing for the four nice prizes, and here are the winners:

Winner of “A Terrible Beauty” DVD -- John G. Molloy

Winner of the Easter Rising Commemorative Coin from 1916Uprising.ie -- Kieron Punch

Winner of the 15x10 copies of the Easter Proclamation, courtesy of AnLar.tv -- Rose Maurer and Jim Curley

Congratulations to the winners!

And thanks to our sponsors for the generous gifts.

We'll wrap the chat up here, folks. Our thanks to our special panel of guests today. And thanks to all who participated!

Views: 872

Tags: 1916, A Terrible Beauty, Arts, Easter Rising, Film, Irish Freedom Struggle, Military History, Movies

Comment by M.J. Neary on April 10, 2015 at 9:00am

I already ordered Terrible Beauty for my own dear Mr. Neary's birthday.  I hope he doesn't read this post. This would ruin the surprise.

Comment by William J. Donohue on April 11, 2015 at 11:27am

Has Netflix picked up A TERRIBLE BEAUTY yet?

Comment by Kelly O'Rourke on April 13, 2015 at 5:03am

I don't see it there, William.  I wonder if they will...

Comment by Mark Henderson on April 14, 2015 at 12:52pm
Thanks I know it was only a small snippet of a discussion wich could have continued all night but thoughroly enjoyed the insight of the making of the movie and look forward to watching 'A Terrible Beauty'.
As a Republican have focussed mainly on that side of things so to see a film from all sides civilians and combatants alike will be most interesting as you said in the discussion theses young British troops inexperienced and the arrogance of British commanders was just a taste of more to come in the fields of France.
So Thanks Again to All Involved.
Comment by M.J. Neary on April 15, 2015 at 8:03am

I watched "Beauty" last night with Mr. Neary.  Couldn't resist and gave him his gift early. What a marvelous piece - and what a refreshing idea to focus on the less prominent stories.  There was so much to the Easter Rising, not just the GPO scene.

 

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