Skip Trinity Banner Navigation

Skip to main content »

Trinity College Dublin

Skip Main Navigation

Film Details

Production companyHibernia Films
Thomas Cooper Productions
Country of originIreland
ProducerCOOPER, Tom
DirectorCOOPER, Tom
Script/AdaptationCOOPER, Tom
PhotographyLAWLOR, S.B.S.
Sound recordingO'SULLIVAN, T.
Music performancePat Crowley's Dance Band (Incidental Music)
CastBrian O'Sullivan (Brian Malone), Eileen Davis (Eileen O'Donovan), Tom Cooper (Dan O'Donovan), Donal O'Cahill (Billy Malone), Jerry O'Mahony (Black and Tan OC), Bill Murphy (Sergeant Geary, R.I.C.), James Gleeson (John Malone), Marian O'Connell (Mrs Malone), Jack Scully, John McCarthy, Herbert Martin, Dado Hurley, Oliver Mason, John Cooper, Paddy Looney, Nora Burke, Mary Meagher, T M O'Sullivan, Mick Devane, Peter Gardiner, J G McDonnell, Con Woods, Peter Rahilly, Bill Daly, T O'Donoghue, Tom Hill, Dan Culloty, Tommy Cooper.
Release date1936
SummaryPrologue, 1866. During the planning for the Fenian uprising, Brian Malone is one of those training and arming. While a small group of Fenians are gathered in a deserted cottage one day, Brian's girlfriend, Maria Cooper, wanders by, and with the leader's permission, he goes to meet her. During their stroll the young lovers do not notice that an informer has seen the Fenians and he rushes to tell the police. The cottage is raided and the Fenians are arrested. The informer makes it appear that Brian had told the police and, thereafter, 'the stain lingers on through the generations'. In 1919, once again young men are drilling and arming to fight the English, this time under the banner of the Irish Republican Army and the local leadership of Dan O'Donovan. The grandson of Brian Malone, and his namesake, of the Fenian times hears from his mother the story of his grandfather's alleged treachery, but Brian declares that such a mistake could not happen nowadays. His mother is not so sure. Brian, an active member of the IRA, is in love with O'Donovan's sister, Eileen, but Brian's brother. Billy, is an enigmatic figure. He disapproves of Brian's connection with the IRA and tries to convince him to leave the organisation, while also appearing to have pro-English sympathies. The old taint of informer is resurrected against Brian, and combined with Billy's hostility to Republicans, he is expelled from the IRA, much to the chagrin of O'Donovan and his sister. Stung by this blow to his pride, and taunted by Billy, Brian joins the Royal Irish Constabulary, and with it Eileen's love for him appears to die. Months pass, and the War of Independence intensifies. Eileen's brother and her friends are fighting for independence, while her sweetheart is in enemy uniform. Mrs Malone seeks to comfort her son's girlfriend, while Eileen tries to warn Billy that the IRA are losing patience with him for fraternising with the enemy. Brian is transferred to his home barracks, and on arrival joins a raid on the O'Donovan's house. Eileen's icy contempt shows him that he is 'just as welcome as the friends he brought'. Meanwhile, the IRA debate Billy and his fate, while O'Donovan declares that Brian is now a legitimate target. Billy's case is referred to the Brigade Intelligence Officer whose brilliant work has made the Brigade one of the most effective in the country. At the local barracks the Tans are planning a raid on the IRA, having learned of their whereabouts. After witnessing a summary execution by the Tans of an IRA prisoner, Brian decides to desert and warn the IRA of the impending attack. Returning home, he enlists his father's and his younger brother's support to try to halt the Tans' advance. Billy tries to stop them, but he is overpowered by Brian. The trio leave, and block a mountain road with stones, until word is got through to them by the IRA that the Tans were being lured into an ambush. The road is cleared, and the Malones join with O'Donovan and the other IRA men to mount a spectacular attack on the Tans' motorised convoy. Capturing the convoy, they disarm the Tans and send them away. A lone man is spotted by Tans in the countryside. They shoot at him and he is killed. It turns out to be Billy, who is brought to the IRA's hideout where the Malones, distressed, accuse the IRA of having killed him. It is only then revealed by O'Donovan that Billy had been the IRA's Intelligence Officer and had used his pro-English disguise as a means of getting information for them and of evading capture. After Billy is buried at dawn, Mr Malone speaks directly to camera and declares that the 'struggle must go on'. (V).
NoteUSA title DAWN OVER IRELAND. Filmed in the Killamey area of Co Kerry during 1934 and 1935. THE DAWN was the first full-length indigenous Irish sound feature film. 'The film captures all the glamour, romance, and especially the glory and tragedy of the wars of independence... The producer has backgrounded his theme with the terror of the 'Tans', the beauty of Killarney scenery, the tragedies of Kerry and the determination of a proud people to carry on.' (IP 28/5/1936:1). DAWN OVER IRELAND see THE DAWN 8,090 ft; GB: 7,900 ft, 87 mins. IR Rel 27/5/1936 (Dublin premiere); 21/8/1936 (general release).
Reference5{ald 25/3/1937:10; DEM 22/8/1936; Dublin Opinion Oct 1936:679-81; EH 30/5/1936; EH 22/8/1936:7; FMR Vol. 29, No. 9, Sept 1936:481-2; FMR Vol. 29,
No. 10, Oct 1936:557-8; FMR Vol. 30, No. 4, Apr 1937:215-18; II 22/8/1936:12;
n 28/5/1936; IP 22/8/1936; IP 25/8/1936:5; IP 1/9/1936; IP 26/1/1937:5; Irish
Today Vol. 1, No. 5, Oct 1936:59-60; IT 25/8/1936:4; Kerryman 30/5/1936:3;
Leader Vol. 72, No. 19, 6/6/1936:443; MFB 1937:10; An Phoblacht Vol. 11, No. 13,
6/6/1936:1; SI 23/8/1936:4; World Film News 1/4/1937:7. Gifford 10048: Aug 1936; IP 10/2/1980; IT 27/5/1982:10; O'Leary, 1976:23;
Rockett et al, 1987:62-66; SI 17/2/1980.

‘Hibernia Films proudly present The Dawn’ (17/5/1956), souvenir programme from first screening of the film The Dawn. Held at the Tiernan MacBride Library of the Irish Film Institute.

Short review of The Dawn (publication undetermined). Held at the Tiernan MacBride Library of the Irish Film Institute.

Cinema and Ireland, 1988:62-66, ‘1930s fictions’, analysis and background to The Dawn, Ireland's first sound fiction film (Kevin Rockett, Luke Gibbons, John Hill).

The Kerryman, 10/1/97:9, ‘House clear-out inspires unique Killarney sale’, props from the film The Dawn to be sold at auction in Killarney (Catherine Halloran).

Sunday Times (Culture), 5/7/98:11, ‘Bluffer's Guide to The Dawn’, short synopsis and trivia of film The Dawn (Shane Hegarty).

Summer 1977 (publication undetermined), ‘Irish films’, brief paragraph on film.

New York Times, 19/2/38:19, ‘At the Belmont’, review of 'The Dawn'.

Variety, 23/2/38:15, ‘Dawn over Ireland’, review of 'The Dawn'.

Kinematograph Weekly, 17/9/36:22, box office for 'The Dawn' surprises all.
DistributorInternational (GB)
Production creditsp.c: Hibemia Films. A Thomas G Cooper Production, p/d: Tom Cooper,
sc: Cooper assisted by Dr D A Moriarty, Donal O'Cahill, tech. d/c: James S Lawlor, s: T O'Sullivan, P Kleir, interiors: P O'Connor, P Griffin,
incidental m: Pat Crowley's Dance Band.
Genre/CategoryHistorical Drama
War Film
Feature Film Drama
KeywordsWar of Independence
Fenian Uprising

Contact: | Last updated: Nov 27 2006.