Humphrys genealogy

Genealogy research by Mark Humphrys.

My ancestors - O'Mara - Contents

The film "Knocknagow" (1918)

Knocknagow. Click to play.
Length of this video: 2 hours.
The film is in fact 1 hour 30 mins.
Then, in this video, the last 30 mins of the film repeats.
From See download.
[Donovan, 2012] says this is the oldest complete print of an Irish-made fiction film.

Jim Sullivan (see his films) produced the film Knocknagow (1918).
Film directed by Fred O'Donovan, who also starred as Arthur O'Connor (one of the two heroes).
Shot in 1917. Released Jan 1918.
First shown on 30 Jan 1918.

This was based on the novel Knocknagow by Charles Joseph Kickham. The novel is vast, with many characters. The film made many changes, additions, cut much material, and changed the spelling of some characters.
Set in Co.Tipperary in 1840s. Though it is focused on evictions. There is no mention of the Famine.
It was filmed in Co.Tipperary.

It was a very popular film in Ireland and Irish America, especially in the new, post-1916, Irish nationalist atmosphere. It did good business in Britain too.
An English review [Bioscope, 1919] finds some charm in it, despite being put off by what it sees as heavy-handed anti-English politics.
It does not seem particularly anti-English to me, though [Donovan, 2012] notes that "The spectacle of an English soldier being soundly beaten by an Irishman" (Mat beating up the dragoon) would have been controversial.
[Irish Limelight, Feb 1918, p.8] described it as "the greatest attraction ever offered to Ireland's cinema-loving public".
[Irish Limelight, July 1918, p.8] described it as "Ireland's first big production".
[Donovan, 2012] describes it as "Irish cinema's first national and international success".

People who appeared in it:

Ad in Irish Limelight, April 1917, about the upcoming film.
Says it was "adapted by Mrs N. F. Patton".
From here.
The Clonmel Chronicle, 2 Feb 1918, quoted here, says: "The scenario was written by Mrs. Patton, a Dublin lady".

Title in the film says copyright is held by Jim Sullivan's wife Nell O'Mara (who died shortly after in 1919).
How Nell ended up with copyright is unclear.
Did Nell write it, and is "Mrs. N. F. Patton" a pseudonym for her?



Sources yet to be consulted

The Rynnes


Mrs. Kearney.
From 4:20 in the above video.
This is Mary Rynne (age 41).
See video.

Credit for Mrs. Kearney ("Miss Peg Casey").
From 4:07 in the above video.

Mrs. Kearney (Mary Rynne) and her husband.
From 14:38 in the above video.
See other frame.
See video.

The Kearneys, including Mrs. Kearney (Mary Rynne).
From 1:22:37 in the above video.

The hurling match.
From 28:51 in the above video.
Click to play.

Nellie Donovan feeds the evicted Brian family (including 7 year old Cyril Cusack).
From 46:01 in the above video.
It was said that Mary Rynne's character fed the starving child, but this is not so.
Nellie Donovan was played by Sheila Rooney.

Letter from Michael Rynne in Irish Times, 7 Jan 1975. See photo.
This incorrectly says that his mother's character fed the starving child.
Rynne did not act as a "starving teenager" either. It is true that the destitute Brian family have no food, but the boys in the hurling match are not "starving".
This references a recent interview with Cyril Cusack, Irish Times, 3 Jan 1975.

Carrick St, Mullinahone


The Christmas Day parade.
From 1:12:11 in the above video.
See other frame and other frame.
See video.

[Donovan, 2012] identifies this as Carrick St, Mullinahone.
The green house is George Cashel's house.


"It is common talk among exhibitors in Ireland that no picture was ever shown in the country that secured anything like the enthusiastic support given to Knocknagow. It is probably the only picture that is given repeats in nearly every village and town in Ireland, in the same picture house, in many instances four and five times, and many picture houses are now under contract with the company for the annual presentation of Knocknagow to their patrons."
- Freeman's Journal, 28 January 1920, p.5.

Return to Films of James Mark Sullivan.

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