Wednesday 14 November 2018

Ancient clan immortalised by children

Sports day re-enacted at Coolavin for the film 'Heroes and Princes'.
Sports day re-enacted at Coolavin for the film 'Heroes and Princes'.

THE BOND between the MacDermot's and the people of Coolavin has always been close and deeply respectful. When Charles Bay The MacDermot and Madam Felicity returned from their honeymoon bonfires blazes and they were met by a large group of local people led by the De La Salle Boys Band.

The band played the 'Prince's March' composed for the occasion by Rev Br. John and Allo Deely while the people processed with homemade torches from the Quarry to Clogher House. An address of welcome was delivered by Terrny Kelly as they entered their front door.

There was also a similar reception for Charlest The MacDermot and his wife Madam Caroline on the occasion of their first visit to Coolavin after their marriage in 1895. A large crowd awaited their richly decorated train as it arrived at Edmondstown Station. Madam Caroline was presented with a bouquet of flowers by the local children. The horses were taken from the carriage and a few local muscular men took their place. The people formed into a procession and were led by local bands down the long avenue from the high road to their house in Shroofe. The address of welcome was delivered by Rev. Fr. Doyle.

The final part of the film is a powerful piece on 2nd Lieutenant Hugh Maurice MacDermot, Charles Bay's older brother, who died on 9th August 1915 at Suvla Bay. His last letter to his brother Charles Bay on the 7th July 1915 is highlighted in the film. At the age of 18 2nd Lieutenant Hugh Maurice MacDermot was leading Platoon 12 in an attack on Chocolate Hill when he was killed. His body was never recovered.

Following his death one of the Privates in the Platoon wrote a lengthy letter to Lieutenant Hugh Maurice's parents. In the letter Private MacKinney paid tribute to the Lieutenant on behalf of Platoon 12 of the 6th Royal Irish Fusiliers describing him as a true gentleman who instilled a mutual respect among his men. The letter remains part of the MacDermot history and a plaque was erected by his parents (Charles and Caroline) in St. Aiden's Church.

Patsy McGarry, Religious Correspondent with the Irish times, was interviewed on St. Patrick's Day 2010. His article in the Irish Times on Saturday 1st July 2006 'Bringing their Memory Back to Life' was one of the inspirations for this film. Thirty-nine men from the parish of Ballaghaderreen lost their lives in WW1 and were airbrushed from history after 1916 and the War of Independence.

One of the highlights of the year was the Parish sports held on the MacDermot estate. Charles Bay revived the sports that were originally held behind Clogher Hall in the Barrack field. From 1954 until 2003 the sports were held in front of Coolavin House. In April the children of 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th classes spent a day in Coolavin re-enacting the sports for the film.

'Heroes and Princes' is easily the most ambitious project the school has undertaken since the Fis programme started in 2004-2005. The planning process started in October 2009. Filming commenced in March 2010 and the editing in May.

This year was the first time the editing committee used wide screen format 16:9. All was finished by 30th June with not a minute to spare. The film 'Heroes and Princes' will be a valuable education resource for the pupils of St. Aiden's N.S. for many years to come. The school are very grateful to Madam Felicity MacDermot for allowing filming in her home and grounds and for all the material provided for the film.

It is available in Foley's shop, Monasteraden; Imelda Towey's shop, Ballaghaderreen; Supervalu, Ballaghaderreen and from St. Aiden's N.S., Monasteraden, Co Sligo.