REPUBLICANS in Laois took up arms and prepared to carry out attacks around the county last week. Armed men and women were spotted in various locations around the county in the last week carrying out manoeuvres.
But don’t worry, it’s only a re-enactment of what took place around Laois on Easter Sunday, 23 April 1916.
It was at Clonadadoran, a townland between Portlaoise and Abbeyleix, that the first actions of the Rising are reputed to have taken place.
Filming took place over a four-day period last week in several locations around the county − The Swan, Killenard, Wolfhill, Stradbally and Abbeyleix.
Up to 30 cast members were involved in the filming, with Fair City actor Leah Egan in the starring role.
The film is an adaptation of local historians Brendan and Jim Fleming’s book 1916 in Laois, which was published in 1995.
The Flemings’ uncles Eamon and Patrick J were part of the unit that carried out the attacks in 1916. Also involved at that time were Patrick J Ramsbottom, vice-O/C, Michael Gray, Michael Walsh, Patrick Muldowney, John Muldowney, Colum Holohan and Michael J Sheridan (all Portlaoise), Terence Byrne (Knockalde), James Ramsbottom (Fossey), John Frawley (Wolfhill), Seán Maguire (Dublin), Breda Conroy (née Brady), Lorcan Ó Brádaig QM, May Conroy (née Brady), Thomas F Brady, Noreen Brady and Kathleen Brady (Lalor’s Mills).
The filming took four days to complete, which included some gruelling hours, with cast and crew working from 5am to late into the night.
The company behind the film is Brick by Stone Productions, which is run by Micheál Fleming, Jim’s son. The executive producers are Jim’s daughter Malvina Walsh and Jim himself.
Other locals who took part as extras include Michael Keogh and Eamon Leech (St Joseph’s NS), Kathleen Wheatley (Wolfhill), Pádraig Fleming (The Swan), Ailish Carey (Killenard), Michael and Marian Condren and John Hendy from Luggacurren, who also provided the Ford Model T that was used in the making of the short film.
Some of the locations include the former Protestant school in Abbeyleix that is now owned by Arthur Lappin, the producer of My left foot, Kilamuck Bog in Abbeyleix and in Stradbally Woods, where a railway line was constructed to carry out the re-enactment of the track being blown up.
Bosco Ramsbottom from Stradbally and Portlaoise supplied the catering needs of the large crew and cast each night, who stayed in The Swan locality for the duration.
Mr Fleming said the film is being self-financed, with some funding coming from Laois County Council. He also stated that he was grateful to all who had donated items and cash to the film to date, including Eoin O’Shea from O’Shea’s Furniture Demesne in Abbeyleix, who supplied almost all of the antiques that were used as props during filming.
Leah Egan’s part in the film revolves around her (Saoirse) love for her husband Rory.
Speaking to the press on the last day of filming, she said that she had never been to The Swan before the filming and had to check Google maps top find out exactly where it was.
She said that she felt her role in the film portrayed women 100 years ago, most of whom didn’t take up arms, “which has changed radically since 1916.”
She also said: “To meet people (Fleming family) who are directly related to those in this true story was amazing. It was great the way people accepted us in The Swan as well.”
An accomplished martial arts technician as well as an experiences stunt actor, Leah joked that using her “ninja skills was a real teat”.
It is hoped that the short film will be released around Easter next year and will be shown at film festivals and on TG4.
Mr Fleming said that anyone who wishes to know more about the film or is willing to assist with production costs can contact him on 087 266 3573.