A FILM produced by an award-winning Laois native has just completed filming in the county, with a screening scheduled for early spring in the Dunamaise Arts Centre.
***The Light Within*** by writer and director Denis McArdle from Songway Films and Portarlington-based producer David Butler was the winner of this year’s Laois Short Film Bursary.
Locations for the film shoot were predominately in the Rosenallis area – the Quaker Meeting House and Burial Grounds and Glenbarrow Waterfall, with internal and external shooting at Roundwood House.
Speaking about the film, Denis McArdle said: “The film is set in 1780 and is a family drama with tension between two cultures; namely, the Quaker ethos of religious simplicity versus pre-Christian superstitions that still pervaded Ireland in the 18th century. This is the first Irish film to depict Quakers on screen and the authentic portrayal is set in Laois, which historically held a strong Quaker presence.”
Quakers is the popular name for members of the Religious Society of Friends. The society owes its origins to political and religious turmoil in England in the mid-1600s. In 1642, England was engulfed in civil war, which resulted in the execution of Charles I in 1649.
The first record of Quakers in Co Laois dates from about 1654. Although the Quakers held their first meeting in Mountmellick in 1659, it was not until 1709 that the first official Quaker meeting house was built. Their first school opened in January 1786. The Quaker burial ground is in the southeast of Rosenallis on the Mountmellick Road and is regarded as the oldest graveyard in Ireland. Locally it is known as the Friends’ Sleeping Place. In the graveyard there is an 18th century headstone in memory of William Edmundson, who died in 1712 and who is described as the ‘first member of The Society of Friends who settled in Ireland’. Anne Jellicoe, a noted Irish educationalist who is best known as the founder of Alexandra College in Dublin, was born in Mountmellick in 1823 and is also buried at the Friends’ burial ground.
For more information on the upcoming screening of ***The Light Within***, follow Creative Laois on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and also via the Dunamaise Arts Centre.
***The Light Within*** is supported by Creative Laois as part of the Creative Ireland Programme, in partnership with Laois County Council Arts Office.