Local History by Seán Beattie


Donegal’s movie history

In recent years, Inishowen has seen a number of film companies produce major films here but none have gone on the general circuit. Most are available on dvd and one or two were shown on Channel 4. Script writing is nothing new to Inishowen authors. Joyce Cary’s book, THE HORSE’S MOUTH  was the basis for the script of the film of that name starring Alex Guinness and Brian Friel provided some fine lines for Merryl Streep.

I was prompted to write about this topic when I picked up a copy of  THE FOUR FEATHERS  by A.E.W. Mason in the Carndonagh antiquarian bookshop. The book was written in 1902 and was reprinted yearly up to 1939 according to the edition which I have. At first sight, it has little to do with Donegal being a story about the only son of a retired army general called Harry Faversham.  The young man resigned from his army commission when his regiment was posted overseas to fight in Egypt. It was then that he received four feathers, three from his fellow officers and one from his partner. (What I have just learned is that the feathers were regarded as symbols of shame as he was seen as a coward). In the story, the hero sets out to disprove false statements made about him.

My attention was drawn to one of the final chapters, Favershan returns to Ramelton, in which he is described as a well tanned gentleman arriving back from the Sudan. He seeks out Lennon House only to discover that it has been burned down. He is searching for Eithne Eustace who lived in Glenalla. The story moves to the church in Glenalla where he meets the heroine and he learns of her proposed marriage to another person.

It was this section of the story that attracted the film makers to Fanad some years ago. With stories of World War One pouring into the media, the book may see a revival of its popularity although the story pre dates WW1. There have been several film versions of the tale. Heath Ledger featured in the most recent and it is now available in full colour on YOU TUBE. (Sean Beattie  …….I am adding my name as some readers were unaware that I had written the other blogs).


On an August morning of the same year, Harry Faversham rode across the Lennon bridge into Ramelton. The fierce suns of the Sudan had tanned his face, the years of his probation had left their marks. He rode up the narrow streets of the town unrecognised. At the top of the hill he turned into the broad highway which, descending valleys and climbing hills, runs in one straight line to Letterkenny. He rode rather quickly in a company of ghosts. The intervening years had gradually been dropping from his thoughts all through his journey across Egypt and the Continent. One he stopped when he was opposite the church, set high above the road on the right hand, and wondered whether Eithne was still in Ramelton ……….(see AMAZON for a cheap copy to continue the story or go to YOU TUBE). Page 292, 1939 edition, published by Murray.



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