Two features “Irish Movie Magic”  and “Padraic Colum: balladeer, poet and cultural mentor, (Dec 3)” set me thinking of a link between Colum and a scene in “The Quiet Man.”

Amongst other things. Colum briefly rented a house in 1914 immediately next to the one I was later brought up in on the Hill of Howth, but he left in the August of that year for New York immediately before Britain declared war on Germany. He took digs in New York with a Russian landlady, and met and talked with Lev Davidovich Bronstein, known to History as Leon Trotsky.

Colum wrote a biography of Arthur Griffith. He recalled how in January 1922 a group of Dail Deputies elected as Republicans for all of Ireland, together with a few elected as Unionists, summoned by Britain’s King George V’s Lord Lieutenant of Ireland as “The Parliament of Southern Ireland”  swore allegiance to that King and established a Provisional Government. There was more Irish spoken in that Rum Parliament on that one day, reported Colum, than at all the meetings of Dail Eireann in the previous three years. Having set up the Provisional Government the Rum Parliament had no further meetings.

I believe the scene in the Quiet Man, between Mary Kate Thornton (Nee Danaher) and Father Lonergan, her parish priest,  is unmatched for comedy by any film ever made.The priest had a prize fish hooked on the end of his line, which he loses, when she comes to explain why she denied her bridegroom his conjugal rights and the poor man is made sleep in a sleeping bag rather than the marital bed.

Mary Kate explains why Sean Thornton is denied his whole entitlement. She does so in Irish, a tongue less widely understood than English, in order to hide her shame,

Rather like the Rum Parliament of Southern Ireland.

The veteran Republican Ernie O’Malley was an advisor on the film. And Arthur Shields, who played the Rev.Nicholas Playfair, had on Easter Monday 1916, taken his rifle from under the stage in the Abbey Theatre to fight for the Insurgent Republic.


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