Brooklyn brings magic of the movies
Filming continued in the streets of Enniscorthy last week from Monday to Friday for the hardworking cast and crew of 'Brooklyn', often until close to 11 p.m. at night.
Castle Street was the main centre of activity, indoors and out, with interior sets created in several premises and much of Wednesday spent staging a dance in the Athenaeum, which was re-opened and re-decorated for the occasion.
The movie makers ventured down on to the banks of the Slaney on Friday morning, when the office at Ned Kavanagh's garage became a temporary hairdressing salon for actors involved in the riverside scene.
During the afternoon, the cameras rolled on John Street, while vintage petrol pumps were erected outside the old courthouse in Court Street. The effort to re-create provincial Ireland of the early 1950s extended to removing all the modern litter-bins in the areas being used by the production. Friary Hill and Lower Church Street too featured during the week when movie making took over the town.
Stasia Maguire was one of hundreds of 'Brooklyn' extras recruited by Sunset Films. She spent much of Friday afternoon walking up and down John Street carrying a batch loaf and a head of cabbage in a wicker basket.
'I walked up and down the street. Saoirse Ronan was going the one way and I was going the other. I reckon we did it about twenty times,' she said of her day as an actor.
'It has actually been a great experience, learning what goes on behind the scenes. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and they have looked after us one hundred per cent.'
Philip Kenny, resident of Friary Hill in the house belonging to his grandfather Phil Harris, was able to watch some of the film work from close range a the house was given a fake door covering the modern entrance to his home.
'We were allowed to look out the window and that's as close as we got to Saoirse. It was fine. They haven't really disturbed us.
'It has been a bit of excitement for the town.'
Philip was impressed that the 'Brooklyn' team even went to the bother of chipping paint off the old pump near his front door.
Siopa Bróg proprietor Geraldine Wilson was happy to let Sunset Films give her premises a complete makeover under a new name and indicated that she liked the 'Brooklyn' look.
'We will revert to Siopa Bróg but we are leaving the window as it is. We tried to get some of the props - old fashioned shoe trees - but they were rented from England.
'We were closed for three days but we are not complaining. I have enjoyed it very much - they were one of the nicest bunches of people we have ever met.
'They work at a phenomenal rate. They briefed us beforehand and it all happened exactly to schedule.
'I met Saoirse Ronan and I thought she was very easy going. I went over and welcomed her to Enniscorthy.
'Brooklyn is on the Leaving Certificate curriculum and I think it will bring people to Enniscorthy when they know that the film is set here.'
Photographer Ibar Carty also had the experience of seeing his business put back half a century in the cause of cinema.
'For what it brought to the town, my disruption was minimal. The only days we really closed own were Monday and Tuesday. Brooklyn has put Enniscorthy on the map.
'I love the colour they painted my shop but it is only a temporary coat of matt paint. It is amazing how they transformed the place in a matter of hours. And they did a great facelift on the interior of the Athenaeum too.
'I think Enniscorthy should cash in on this. The author (Colm Tóibín) is from the town and the film has been shot in the town. It will create an extra interest in the town once the film is released.
'It's just a pity we don't have a big cinema in the town for the premiere - though I hope Wexford or Gorey will be used instead.
'I was talking to Domhnall Gleeson and he's a lovely fella. It's been wonderful - the amount of people taking photographs. Hopefully we will get a few more films. Why not make Enniscorthy the film centre of Ireland.'
Ibar Carty revealed that he has been busy with his own camera, with a view to staging his own 'Brooklyn' exhibition next year: 'I have had access to areas that other people did not get.'
Feel good factor
Town clerk David Minogue enjoyed the 'Brooklyn' feel good factor.
'It's brought a smile to people's faces. Everyone's been in great form and everyone wants to be part of history.
'The Town Council and chamber of commerce have been head and shoulders behind this. Our visitors have been the most amenable and approachable crew. We love what they have done with Castle Street - that has definitely captured the imagination
'There is a strong economic spin-off though I don't have a figure on it. There's been 100 people staying in the town for a week for a start.
'The film people will undoubtedly be talking about how well they were received in Enniscorthy. We think that we have made a good impression and goodness knows where that might lead.'
Michael Bennett of Enniscorthy Chamber of Commerce gave the credit to Sunset Films locations manager Gordon Wycherley for the decision to shoot the Irish leg of 'Brooklyn' on Slaneyside.
'We were absolutely charmed to get it. Thanks to Gordon Wycherley for brining it to town.
'They are a great bunch of people. I didn't hear any complaints.
'If the film gets an Oscar, then Enniscorthy is made up. I think it's great. Colm Tóibín has to be thanked most of all but he is in New York and it's not possible for him to get away, which is a pity.
'It's what the town needed badly. Positivity. It's infectious and I am very happy for the town.'