Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Dan Donnelly documentary re-screened

There was a Kilcullen interest last night on the TG4 TV channel when a documentary about Dan Donnelly, the legendary 19th century fighter, was screened in a repeat broadcast, writes Brian Byrne.

'Lámh Fada Dan Donnelly', part of which was filmed in Bardons pub during 2009, was produced by Andrew Gallimore, and was originally broadcast on 1 January 2010.

The sequences shot in Bardons included interviews with Josephine Byrne, owner of the famous Donnelly’s Arm relic, as well as Jim Berney and Bernard Berney.

Jim played the part of Dan Donnelly in the famous An Tostal pageants held at Donnelly’s Hollow on The Curragh in the early 50s.

Photographs from the pageant were also shown, as were pictures of Donnelly's Arm with the late Jim Byrne and his son, the late Des Byrne, both of whom gave it a unique 'home' in The Hideout from the 1950s through to the mid-90s.

The arm was a centrepiece in a series of 'Fighting Irishmen' exhibitions during the latter part of the 2000s, in New York, Boston, Omagh, Croke Park and Limerick, curated by New York realtor Jim Houlihan (below).

The biographer of the fighter, Pat Myler, featured continuously in the Irish language documentary (his 1970s book on Dan Donnelly was recently updated and republished and is available on Amazon.) The programme used reconstructions to depict the key fights undertaken by Donnelly, and to show his rise and fall and rise again career. The fighter died of alcoholism complications at the age of 32.

The repeat screening was to mark the 200th anniversary of the fight with George Cooper, which was a month ago and was commemorated in a low key way by local heritage enthusiasts.

UPDATE: An English language version of the documentary is due to be shown on Setanta over Christmas (possibly Christmas Day). It has also been released as part of a DVD set called 'The Irish History Collection'. It's on sale at Eason and Tesco at €10.