I will not attempt a critique of the film as it would take a good deal more study and consideration though I have been aware of Jim Gralton for quite a while having read Des Guckian’s book on Gralton when first published. I also knew Gralton’s close relative Maggie Gralton from quiz encounters. Other local connections are the Ryan’s of Ballyfarnon Sean and Boyle Celtic’s Joe.
The film will certainly revive interest in a man who was an alternative voice with a broad life experience. This voice would be regarded as a much too radical and threatening voice for the time and place.
The stand out performance in the film is that of Jim Norton as the local parish priest Father Sheridan who represents the dominant position of the church in local, particularly rural society. While Barry Ward is fine as Gralton he does not portray the fire or threat one might expect from a radical political activist. For general reasons there are quite a few liberties taken with the character of the real Gralton who was a much older man at the time depicted in the film. Films do that regularly of course.
Amongst the scenes which really interested me was the ‘Pathe News’ coverage of the arrival of the Papal Nuncio at Dun Laoghaire with all the pomp, ceremony and deference that the state could muster at that time. Things and times have changed of course.
An interesting scene is the noting of the names of those attending ‘Jimmy’s Hall’ for a dance and the subsequent reading of these names from the altar. In my own time I remember the contributors to particular church collections being read from the altar!
In local terms it will provide a subject for discussion especially in Leitrim, perhaps even reviving some old debates! That the film was made in Leitrim had to make a contribution economically for a time. It also provided an opportunity for quite a few people from the region to participate. So, while it is a slight distraction, one cannot resist keeping an eye out for familiar faces. The music side is well represented by John Carty, Harry Bradley, Mossie Martin. The highly regarded Lennon brothers are also there. Maggie Carty is also quite prominent while John O’Dowd has a short but strong showing.
So in conclusion the film revives a very interesting true story of the clash of ideologies of those and subsequent decades. It showed the dominance of the power brokers. The social power of the church has waned and the recent elections show that people are more willing to adopt radical representation relegating, in part anyway, the establishment. The film has resonances for our time also as reading this week’s Roscommon Herald, Boyle Town Focus, page 56, the first notice announces: ‘Meeting of Roscommon/Leitrim Irish Land League’!
Roscommon V Mayo in Hyde Park on Sunday :
This game will tell us where Roscommon are at in terms of development and progress. In recent years Roscommon have suffered heavy defeats by Mayo. Mayo were in the All-Ireland final in 2013 and closer than we give them credit to an all-conquering Dublin side. So it is a big ask of Roscommon on Sunday. For Mayo, while they will be taking one game at a time their real goal and aspiration will be the ultimate winning of an All-Ireland title. As a Roscommon supporter one always hopes and wants to be there when that hope is realised. In 1952 Mayo were after winning the All-Irelands of 1950 and 1951 but were defeated by Roscommon in the Connacht Final of 1952. There was a newspaper strike at the time so everyone relied on Radio Eireann for news of results but they held back from announcing the result as it seemed incredible. Boyle’s John Joe Nerney starred in that game. But as the Mayo paper ‘The western People’ reported on Gerry O’Malley’s display ...’He gave a display so outstanding that no praise of mine could give him just merit’. Thankfully both are still with us.
Could the hand of history repeat itself as it sometimes does? Recent results have shown the resilience of the underdog with Limerick hurlers beating Tipperary; Tipperary footballers beating Limerick; Waterford hurlers drawing with Cork and Laois hurlers being just two points short of Galway. So good luck to Roscommon and all who sail with her especially our local representatives Donal and Enda Smith.
Keep in Mind:
Two events I hope to go this week-end are Mister Frank Tivnan’s talk in and on the Church of Ireland, Green St. on Friday evening at 8.30. Then there is the concert in aid of the ‘Join Our Boys Trust’ on Saturday night in St. Joseph’s Hall.
Boyle Celtic who saw their League campaign through to a successful conclusion on Friday evening last. Celtic Park was in celebratory mood all through the evening with no real fears that it would not be achieved. There was a fine crowd present including veteran Celtic supporters Hal Cawley, John McPhearson and Liam Kerins. Team captain Kyle Suffin gave a wide-ranging post-match thank you to the people who contributed to the win. Also present to make an attire presentation was the popular Mister Troy.