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THE LAD FROM OLD IRELAND (1910)

Production company: Kalem Co.
Country of origin: USA
Producer/director: Sidney Olcott.
Script: Gene Gauntier.
Photography: George Hollister.
Scenic artist: Henry Allen Farnham.
Locations: Killarney and surrounding area, Co. Kerry.
Black and white; silent; length: 824/1,009 feet; format: 35mm.
USA release 23 November 1910; re-issued 1 August 1914. GB distr: Markt & Co.
Copy: Irish Film Archive; National Film & Television Archive.
Cast: Sidney Olcott (Terry O’Connor), Gene Gauntier (Aileen), Arthur
Donaldson (priest), J P McGowan, Robert Vignola (men in campaign office
on election night), Thomas O’Connor (Murphy, a landlord), Jane Wolfe
(Elsie Myron, an American heiress), Laurene Santley, Agnes Mapes.

Summary In the rural Ireland location of Rathpacon, County Cork, Terry is working in the fields. Determined to improve his poverty-stricken existence, he decides to emigrate to America. He bids a sad farewell to Aileen, his sweetheart, who is left in the care of her mother, but he promises to return to her. Arriving in New York, Terry works on a building site and eventually rises to become the Tammany Hall mayor of the city. Forgetting about Aileen, he is seen in the company of an American heiress on the night of his electoral victory. However, he finds a letter from Aileen informing him of her family’s desperate economic plight and declaring that they are in danger of being evicted from their home. Returning home, Terry is seen on a ship in mid-ocean conjuring up an image of Aileen. When he arrives at Aileen’s cottage the eviction is in progress. He enters the cottage and confronts the bailiff. He thrusts the rent arrears into his hand and sends him out of the house. The following Sunday the banns are read by the priest announcing the forthcoming marriage of Terry and Aileen.

Note. Filmed in Ireland and USA. Farnham, whose name is sometimes given as ‘Al(l)an’ or ‘Farnum’, did not participate in the production of scenes taken in Ireland, as Herbert Reynolds points out, but would likely have been responsible for the New York studio interiors. Unpublished cast members Donaldson, McGowan and Vignola have been identified by Reynolds in the extant film.

The Lad from Old Ireland is regarded by some as the first American-produced fiction film made outside the USA (Sight and Sound, Oct-Nov 1953:96), though this may have been confused with what is contemporaneously described as ‘the first production ever made on two Continents’ (Bioscope, 12 January 1911:47). It may have been the first integrated fiction film made in Ireland. The available print, with intertitles in German, ends with the penultimate scene, at the cottage.

References: Bioscope, 12 January 1911:47; Bioscope, 6 April 1912:v; Bioscope, 21 August 1913:21; Kalem Kalender, 1 August 1914:2 (reissue); Motion Picture News, 10 December 1910:9; MPN 17 December 1910:19; MPN 21 October 1916, Sec 2:109-10; Moving Picture World, 26 December 1910:1246, 1249; MPW 3 December 1910:1296,1343; MPW 17 December 1910:1405; MPW 1 August 1914:732; NYDM 2 November 1910:29; Variety, 3 December 1910. AFI Catalog 1893-1910:574; Eileen Bowser, The Transformation of Cinema, 1907–15, 1990:153-5; Kevin Rockett, et al, Cinema and Ireland, 1987:7-8.

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Contact: irishfilm@tcd.ie | Last updated: Nov 09 2011.