FOR THE past week it has become 'Rushwood' as the town of Rush took on the look of a mini Hollywood as the cameras rolled on a number of the most dramatic and climatic scenes from the €6 million feature film 'Calvary'.
Throngs of locals converged on the harbour area on Thursday night for the filming of a crucial part of the major new Irish film-the burning of the pre-fabricated church which had been erected over the previous weeks in the park overlooking the curved coastline. Excitement grew as flames spewed from the special effects equipment, climbing and scorching the night sky, and smoke belched and billowed. But while it all looked realistic and dramatic, the expected burning of the church to the ground did not happen on the night. Friday night saw more intense flames and eventually it all erupted in searing heat and showers of sparks.
By the next morning all that remained was the blackened, scorched aftermath and the original steel frame starkly outlined against the sea and sky at the harbour. The film features Fingal's very own Brendan Gleeson and is the latest offering from John Michael McDonagh, best known as the writer- director of the acclaimed film ' The Guard', which captured an extraordinary performance from Gleeson. Filming took place over three weeks in Sligo, where the film is set, before the production moved to Rush last week for a further two weeks of filming. The green area at the harbour in Rush was chosen because the backdrop of the sea and curved, rugged sweep of coastline is reminiscent of a West of Ireland Atlantic landscape.
Gleeson, who lives in Malahide and is married to a Rush woman, Mary Weldon, plays Fr. James Lavelle, the flipside to Brendan Gleeson's character, Sgt. Gerry Boyle in The Guard. Fr Lavelle, is a man intent on making the world a better place, he is continually shocked and saddened by the spiteful and confrontational inhabitants of his small country town. One day, his life is threatened during confession, and the forces of darkness begin to close in around him. The crowds who gathered on the Thursday night had to endure many hours of watching preparations in progress before the first flames began leaping skyward.
'It may not be the burning of Atlanta' one local joked, referring to the dramatic American Civil War fire scene in the epic movie 'Gone With The Wind', ' but it's the most exciting thing to happen around here in a while". Another said "They built a lovely little church. I was getting fond of seeing it perched there with the sea and cliffs in the background. I will be sorry to see it burned.' As well as filming the dramatic church burning scenes, filming also took place over a number of days in The Carlyan bar and lounge in the town. Filming is expected to continue for most of the coming week. And if the man behind the film, John Michael McDonagh, had time to stroll around Rush he must have been delighted to see that the Millbank Theatre in the town has posters up for their next production-The Lonesome West-written by his brother, playwright Martin McDonagh, which will run from November 14 to December 8.