Humphrys genealogy

Genealogy research by Mark Humphrys.

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The film "Willy Reilly and his Colleen Bawn" (1920)

There is an introductory film for 11 mins.
The film Willy Reilly and his Colleen Bawn then runs for 1 hr 45 mins (from 11 mins to 1 hr 57 mins).
There is then the first minute or two of the American movie Suspense (1913).


Jim Sullivan (see his films) produced the feature film Willy Reilly and his Colleen Bawn (and here and here and here).
It was released Apr 1920. (It was being made in 1919, when the Republican Loan film was shot.)
Length: 1 hr 45 mins.

It was directed by the well known film director and playwright John MacDonagh.
John MacDonagh also appeared in it as "Tom the Fool", under the name "Richard Sheridan".
John MacDonagh was brother of Thomas MacDonagh the executed 1916 leader, who had been involved in theatre and publishing, and was co-founder of St Enda's.
Much of the film was shot at St Enda's.

It is a film of the popular story of 18th century Catholic-Protestant love, Willy Reilly and His Dear Cooleen Bawn by William Carleton, 1855.

The plot

It is set in the 1740s in Co.Cavan, during the Penal Times (persecution of Catholics).
It is the story of the love of a young Catholic gentleman, Willy Reilly, for the "Colleen Bawn" - Helen Folliard, the daughter of a Protestant squire.
St. Enda's is the Folliards' house.
Summary of the plot:

  1. Willy rescues Squire Folliard from death at the hands of the bandit Red Rapparee. Willy and Helen meet and fall in love. The squire likes him, but will only consent to his daughter marrying a Protestant. Willy again saves the family from a second attack by Red Rapparee.
  2. There is a rival Protestant suitor, Sir Robert Whitecraft (a local persecutor of Catholics), whose advances Helen's father had previously approved of, but Helen will not have him. Whitecraft plots against Reilly. He tells lies to the squire about Reilly, saying that both bandit attacks were just set-ups to make Reilly look good, as a plan to secure Helen. Whitecraft pays Red Rapparee to support this story. The squire believes it.
  3. Whitecraft tries to get Reilly arrested and his property confiscated. Reilly flees. Whitecraft burns Reilly's house. The squire now wants Helen to marry Whitecraft. She and Reilly elope. But they are caught. He is arrested on charges of abduction, and a trumped up charge of robbery. Helen is saved from marrying Whitecraft when he is dramatically arrested for arson and other crimes. Whitecraft and Red Rapparee are sentenced to death. Reilly is found guilty of abduction, but not of robbery. He is sentenced to 7 years' exile.
  4. Helen "loses her reason" for 7 years. Her father regrets his opposition to Reilly, and hopes for his return. After 7 years, Reilly returns from exile. Helen's father asks Reilly's forgiveness. Reilly sees Helen again, and we are led to believe that she will slowly recover with his love.

The film shows a forbidden Catholic mass in the open, raided by soldiers with guns, the priest arrested.


Willy Reilly meets Helen Folliard, the "Colleen Bawn", for the first time.

Jim Sullivan.
From the introduction.


Return to Films of James Mark Sullivan.

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