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16 October 2014
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Film: General John Regan:

General John Regan (1933) was filmed in Hilltown and starred Henry Edwards as Dr O Grady. We would like to hear from you if you have any information.

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General John Regan (1933) filmed in Hilltown

Can anyone give me any information on the following film. General John Regan (1933) was filmed in Hilltown and starred Henry Edwards as Dr O Grady. Also I am trying to get hold of a copy of the film.

The Plot:
The title character of this comedy is nonexistent - at least in the story itself. General John Regan figures into a jovial conspiracy between American visitor and local doctor. As a joke, the visitor and the doctor fabricate a story about the liberation of Bolivia. It is their contention that a mild-mannered villager is in fact the legendary liberator General Regan. It goes without saying that the gag gets out of hand, but we'll say it anyway.


Directed by
Henry Edwards

Writing credits
George A. Birmingham (play)
Lennox Robinson

Genre: Comedy (more)

Credited cast:
Henry Edwards .... Dr. O'Grady
Chrissie White .... Moya Kent
Ben Welden .... Billing
Pegeen Mair .... Mary Ellen
David Horne .... Major Kent
W.G. Fay .... Golligher
Fred O'Donovan .... Doyle
Denis O'Neil .... Kerrigan
Eugene Leahy .... Sergeant Colgan
George Callaghan .... Moriarty
Mary O'Farrell .... Mrs. Gregg
(more)

Runtime: 74 min
Country: UK
Language: English
Color: Black and White
Sound Mix: Mono

Your Responses:

Brede White - Mar '07
Dear Louisa, I was very interested to read your item on the Hilltown film. Unfortunately I do not have anything to offer you regarding it, but I was delighted to see a name I recognised. You mention your aunt Moya Blackburn. I believe she was a friend of my mothers, May O'Neill, whose parents Laurence and Mary O'Neill owned a shop/pub in Hilltown from around 1903-1930. I have often heard your aunts name mentioned over the years, and would be very interested in seeing the photo's you mentioned at the Downshire Arm's. I have recently come across a good number of old family photo's taken in Hilltown which include many friends of my mothers and her siblings, and wonder if your aunt is among them. I would be happy to let you have some if you would like them. I'm researching my family tree at present and needless to say would appreciate any photo's or information on Hilltown relating the the time period mentioned above, so if you have anything you think might be of use I would be very g!
rateful. That includes, of course, the film if you manage to get your hands on a copy. It would be lovely to see some film footage of Hilltown, and perhaps some familier faces amongst the extras, so hope you are successful in your search. I would be happy to pay for any pictures you can provide me with. I look forward to hearing from you. Best regards, Brede White.

James Macdonald - Feb '07
Most interesting. Had I been choosing a book of George A Birmingham to film Spanish Gold would have come to mind first - all his talents reached their high points together in Spanish Gold. And even at this date well worth considering.

Louisa Blackburn - Aug '06
I have read the book General John Regan recently. It is well worth reading, very funny. I can imagine it as a play and as a film too. I just wish we could find this film and show it to the people of Ireland. I have managed to buy the "stills" of the film and the actors appear quite sophisticated, the way they are dressed etc. They are lovely photographs. As the story is centered around an hotel I am sure the Downshire Arms is featured in the film.

So once again if anyone can think of some way to find this film, that has not already been tried, so that it can come home to us and be put into our archives as it should be, please let me know.

Louisa Blackburn - Aug '06
George A.Birmingham was the pen name of the Rev. Owen Hannay. He was born in Belfast and wrote the book on which the play and later the film were based. There were three film attempts made. One in 1921 and another in 1933 and another one in the forties. The one we are trying to trace was made in 1933. George A. Birmingham was a prolific writer and wrote many interesting books and articles. There is an exhibition taking place in the Linen Hall Library on the 6th to the 26th September of all writers born in the province and he is among them.

The film crew stayed at the Downshire Arms Hotel in Hilltown. It was owned at that time by my grandparents Joseph and Louisa Blackburn. I have two photographs taken at the time the film crew stayed there. One showing my grandmother and father and his sister Moya and the second one of the film crew sitting in a Hudson car outside the Hotel. There is also a Sunbeam car in the photograph.

Louisa Blackburn - Aug '06
The film General John Regan was based on a book by George A.Birmingham which was a pen name for the Rev. James Owen Hannay who was born in the Knock area of Belfast around the late 1800s. He was a prolific writer. There was one play and three films made of the book called General John Regan. The one made in 1933 was made in Hilltown County down. The film crew stayed at the Downshire Arms Hotel which at that time was owned by my Grandparents, Joseph and Louisa Blackburn. I have two large photographs taken outside the Downshire Arms Hotel, one with my Grandmother and Father and my Aunt Moya and one of the film crew all sitting in or on an American car called a Hudson.There is another car in the picture called a Sunbeam.

The actors in the film are very well known. The producer of the film was married to Anna Neagle whom some people may remember, his name was Herbert Wilcox.
Henry Edwards acted in it along with others who were born in Ireland so it has a strong Irish connection. I am sure some local people would have been in the film as extras...We are trying to find this film in order to give people a chance to view a piece of history made on their doorstep as it were. This could have been the first movie made in Ireland, before John Wayne and the Quiet Man, sorry dear John, you were not the first!

So if anyone has any ideas where to look for this film, I would be most pleased. So far I have written many letters and made many phone calls but to no avail.

Most of the rev James Owen Hannay's letters and manuscripts are in Trinity College Dublin. These were donated by a relative living in America in the fifties. Quite a few of his books are in the Linen Hall Library where there is going to be an exhibition from the 6th to the 26th September.


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