Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Lost Son - The Brian MacNeill RTE Programme

The programme on the killing of Brian MacNeill on Benbulben mountain in Sligo during the Civil War in 1922 was shown last evening on RTE 1. It is available online on the RTE Player at the moment It was produced and directed by Niamh Sammon for RTE.

The programme was well done and covered a lot of ground in less than an hour and showed clearly how it happened that one son died fighting the army and government in which his father and two brothers were serving. The family tragedy aspect was well covered contrasting with the unfolding of the important national events. The research, especially as regards the deaths themselves, seems to have been thorough and McDowell made a great presenter.

Good use was made of photographs, some newly discovered, but some of the film clips used are by now becoming overused. There is a Pathe newsreel piece about a meeting in Sligo on Easter Sunday 1922 which I saw recently used in a programme about the attack on the Four Courts in Dublin and was used again last night as if it showed Civil War events. The great clip of Sean MacEoin chopping a tree which was blocking a road also comes from the Sligo Easter Sunday film.

It's very interesting to be involved to any degree in the making of a TV programme. My involvement in this programme was small. I was not one of those consulted during the making of the programme, there are many who know a lot more than me about that particular incident.

I was interviewed to give some background on the general situation in Sligo during the War of Independence and Civil War. The interview took place in Rahelly House in north Sligo which was the anti-Treaty headquarters at the period and from where the IRA fled to Benbulben when the Free State troops attacked.

The director had this great idea of putting myself and Michael McDowell sitting in front of a screen commenting on photographs which were being shown on a screen. He was asking questions and I was answering. This was developing the story of the programme, McDowell coming to Sligo to find out what happened.

This was filmed from many angles, we spoke the same words over and over again. The scene in the programme lasted only a minute but was very effective. The still above shows us talking about Sligo IRA O/C Billy Pilkington.

I was delighted to be involved with the programme and especially glad that the programme turned out as well as it did. Nice also to have my new book mentioned on the caption. Well done to all involved.

1 comment:

Connie Roberts said...

Well done, Michael. Another feather in the ould cap. Is there no end to your talent, man?