Friday, August 26, 2011

Ealú - Frank Carty Rescue from Sligo Gaol 1920

I attended the preview of the Carty escape Magamedia drama/documentary for TG4 in the series Ealú which is about prison escapes. It took place in the impressive Cinema North West mobile facility in the yard of Sligo Gaol last Monday.

It's interesting to see how such programmes are put together. Three or four 'experts' were interviewed and their interviews were cut and jig sawed together to make a more or less coherent account. There was also a narrator, someone with one of those authoritative voices which carries the ring of truth about it.

Then there was the reconstruction. Very effective though quite simple. Some shots of a prison wall, rope ladder being thrown and falling, men running in a yard. Nicely filmed sequences of the overpowering of a guard, of the waking of the governor and the taking of the keys and the opening of Carty's cell. Also some nice shots of a small IRA column moving in the mountains, crossing picturesque streams etc. All expertly put together in a coherent story.

I was surprised by how close-up my filming was - though maybe this was just the effect of the big screen. I was pleased that my Irish seemed OK and I didn't spot any glaring grammatical mistake. Nor indeed any glaring historical inaccuracy.

Paddy Hayes, the series director introduced the programme in Sligo and stressed that this was a jailbreak, a rescue not just an escape. Billy Pilkington, the Sligo IRA O/C planned and carried out the rescue. It's ironic that Carty and Pilkington didn't get on well afterwards though both took the anti-Treaty side in the civil war. Pilkington became a Redemptorist priest afterwards and spent most of his life in South Africa. Carty joined Fianna Fáil and became a TD.

I don't know when the programme will be shown, sometime in this autumn or winter. Watch the TV schedules!

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