Ballykinlar internment camp players: a troupe of prisoners formed during their period of internment

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When: 01 January 1921

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This interesting Hogan photograph shows a group of men who were interned in Ballykinlar together. Here shown after taking part in some amateur dramatics.

Ballykinlar Internment Camp, County Down, was a detention centre for republican prisoners during the War of Independence, and while it's possible that the photo was taken there circa 1921, the troupe also performed in Dublin in 1922 (after release).

Whether it was during internment or afterwards, sharon.corbet and Carol Maddock highlight some incredible sources (including the fantastic program and posters sourced by Sharon from the camp itself). The Freeman's Journal article of 1922, which Carol sourced, indicates that the Ballykinlar Players are likely shown here in costume for "The Lord Mayor", a play in three acts by Edward McNulty. From the article:

 The leading role is filled by Mr. K[it] Mullen, who makes the ideal “strong, silent man of the Corporation”, and his scheming wife, Mrs. O’Brien, is well represented by Miceal O Leimne. Dick Saunders sustains with marked ability the part of Moira O’Brien. Jimmie [Seamus or JJ] Mulkerns (The Rajah) interprets Gaffney faultlessly, and Paddy Byrne acts with spirit as Gaffney’s clerk. The other parts are taken by Liam Wilson, Tom Fullam, George Hogan (creditors), Mick Gaynor (Major Butterfield), Jas. Mallon (servant), Peter Mulvey and Sean Connolly (charwomen).

 Freeman’s Journal, 7 February 1922


Photographer: W. D. Hogan

Collection: Hogan-Wilson Collection

Date: circa 1921

NLI Ref.: HOGW 132

You can also view this image, and many thousands of others, on the NLI’s catalogue at catalogue.nli.ie

Info:

Owner: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 51206
hoganwilsoncollection nationallibraryofireland ballykinlar ballykinlarplayers internmentcamp actors amateurdramatics prisoners warofindependence rajahoffrongoch thelordmayor seamusmulkerns williamdavidhogan wdhogan

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    D.G-S

    • 07/Sep/2015 07:47:25

    Not a happy bunch! Understandably!

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    sharon.corbet

    • 07/Sep/2015 07:52:11

    There's program from the "Ballykinlar Players" from April 1921 as well as a poster from October (1921?) in South Dublin Libraries.

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    sharon.corbet

    • 07/Sep/2015 07:53:58

    Apparently they went on in 1922 to play in the Queen's Theatre.

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    derangedlemur

    • 07/Sep/2015 08:20:45

    Odd that it's called "Ballykinlar" with an 'a'. It's Ballykinler on the map, as far back as the 6", and also on the roadsigns: www.google.ie/maps/@54.257872,-5.7995965,3a,43.3y,222.49h... Looks like they wouldn't let the gogglemobile in to look at the camp.

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    derangedlemur

    • 07/Sep/2015 08:22:29

    You can see it over the fence here: www.google.ie/maps/@54.256589,-5.7989077,3a,16.3y,200.14h...

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    sharon.corbet

    • 07/Sep/2015 08:40:30

    Louis J. Walsh mentioned the following in "On my keeping and in theirs : a record of experiences "on the run", in Derry Gaol, and in Ballykinlar Internment Camp": "On Easter Sunday we produced two plays a touching little curtain-raiser entitled " The Four Provinces," which was played with superb skill by George Nesbitt and Tom Meldon and the rest of their little company, and my own comedy, 'The Pope in Killybuck.' " "The caste for " Killybuck " was filled from my Ulster friends, Frank Doris, P. MacGartan, Tom Larkin, John Bonner, E. Cooney, Hugh Bradley, Georgie Goodman and F. Kearney, with Jim Lalor, from Kilkenny, as the auctioneer. They all played their parts very skilfully."

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    Niall McAuley

    • 07/Sep/2015 10:24:42

    Previously, at Ballykinler: An army marches on its stomach

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    guliolopez

    • 07/Sep/2015 11:02:35

    Based on the names in the incredible posters/programs that [https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]] found, and depending on whether the dates match-up, it would seem likely that one of the men pictured is Seamus Mulkerns (given that he was producer and lead in pretty much everything). The Mulkerns family seemed to be quite active in entertainment/acting (and later film) circles - I am not familiar myself, but perhaps he's the same Mulkerns who was also interned with Collins in Frognoch after the rising?

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    guliolopez

    • 07/Sep/2015 11:12:16

    Transcript of the program (15/16 Oct 1921?):

    The Ballykinlar Players present Cathleen ni Houlihan (by WB Yeats) A play in one act Caste Peter Gillane .... S Mulkerns Bridget his wife .... R Saunders Michael (their sons) .... P O'Byrne Patrick (their sons) .... E O'Moore Delia Cahill (engage to Michael) .... J Hogan Cathleen ni Houlihan ... M Hopper Scene - A cottage close to Killalla in 1798 The Duplicity of David (by J. B McCarthy) A comedy in one act Caste David Hourihan (a farmer) .... S Mulkerns Lena (his sisted) .... R Saunders Jerry Malone (a neighbour) .... P O'Byrne Esther Enright .... P Mulvey Sir Henry Enright .... C Mullins Scene - kitchen of Hourigan's farmhouse subtexts Concern programme by the well known camp artistes at internal Selections by camp orchestra during the evening October 15th and 16th at 2:30pm Plays produced by Seamus Mulkerns Stage manager Padraig O'Byrne (artwork signed by S.O'Suilleabhain)
    And of poster (April 1921):
    Aibrean 24 1931 7pm Sharp Concert Programme Sone - A Father's Love - M Hopper Recitation - A Rogha Fam - T Synott Song - The Wests Awake - N O'Doherty Song - Selected - T O'Kelly Flute Solo - Selected - T Failham Violin Solo - Operate Echos - S Daignan Selections of Irish music by the camp orchestra under the direction of S Daignan Ballykinlar players Hyacinth Halvey James Quirke .... A Flately Fardy Farrell .... J O'Moore Sergeant Cardey .... P Rowsbottom Mrs Delane .... J Rowley Miss Joyce .... W Wilson Hyacinth Halvey .... P'O'Byrne The Rising of the Moon Sergeant .... S Mulkerns Policeman A .... P O'Byrne Policeman B .... C Mullins A Ragged Man .... S Stephenson (artwork signed by Michael O'Riada)

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    Swordscookie

    • 07/Sep/2015 12:43:24

    This is a very interesting and thought provoking shot. I was raised on a diet of British movies showing the determination and courage of their POW's in the hands of the Nazi's and Japanese. It is interesting to read how (a) they treated prisoners themselves and (b) how the said prisoners rose above the treatment and demonstrated both their inventiveness and humanity! The costumes and makeup on the artistes looks excellent and that central character looks as if he could have performed in any of the theaters in the country!!!!

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    sharon.corbet

    • 07/Sep/2015 13:29:18

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/] This article about his son, mentions: "His father, a veteran of the 1916 Rising, was known as "The Rajah of Frongoch", his skills as a conjurer, comedian and impresario keeping his fellow-internees in the Welsh internment camp in good spirits; he later founded the Ballykinlar Players to raise money for the support of ex-prisoners."

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    guliolopez

    • 07/Sep/2015 15:05:12

    Thanks [https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]]. That seems pretty definitive. Based on the photo that accompanies this Rajah of Frongoch article, do we think we can confirm if he's pictured in "our" image? Is he perhaps the guy (with the formal collar and blacktie) on the furthest right? [EDIT] I found another image which makes me question whether my guess is correct. I wasn't convinced before, but am less certain that the man far-right is Mulkerns. If we knew what play/characters were pictured, it would possibly make identification a bit easier....

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 07/Sep/2015 16:35:20

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/nlireland/sets/72157651136879037 I have just added the 100th photo to our 50,000+ Views Album.

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    Swordscookie

    • 07/Sep/2015 16:51:55

    Congratulations NLI on such a terrific achievement! 100 shots with 50K + views is remarkable! Ms. Maddock will be pleased:-)

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    Myrtille T.

    • 07/Sep/2015 17:33:16

    VerY nice picture!

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    Carol Maddock

    • 07/Sep/2015 17:55:43

    I think the play might have been The Lord Mayor. We have the gentleman in the middle dressed in robes and a chain and staff of office, and two “charwomen”…

    ACTORS FROM BALLYKINLAR Very lively interest centred in the presentation of “The Lord Mayor” at the Queen’s Theatre last night by the Ballykinlar Players. It was the ex-internees’ debut to the public, and judging by the reception accorded them, the company is destined to enjoy a successful week. The cast is made up entirely of men who spent long periods in captivity in the North. Founded in Camp No. 2, the company is specially trained by Mr. Seumas Mulkerns, more popularly known to his comrades as the “Rajah”. The last occasion on which “The Lord Mayor” was performed by the Ballykinlar Players was on the bleak sandhills under Slieve Donard, before an audience of 1,800 of their comrades. Under more auspicious circumstances last night’s show aroused enthusiastic interest, and the performers were cordially greeted. The leading role is filled by Mr. K. Mullen, who makes the ideal “strong, silent man of the Corporation”, and his scheming wife, Mrs. O’Brien, is well represented by Miceal O Leimne. Dick Saunders sustains with marked ability the part of Moira O’Brien. Jimmie Mulkerns (The Rajah) interprets Gaffney faultlessly, and Paddy Byrne acts with spirit as Gaffney’s clerk. The other parts are taken by Liam Wilson, Tom Fullam, George Hogan (creditors), Mick Gaynor (Major Butterfield), Jas. Mallon (servant), Peter Mulvey and Sean Connolly (charwomen).
    Freeman’s Journal, 7 February 1922

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    Carol Maddock

    • 07/Sep/2015 17:56:24

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/swordscookie Delira, as always! :)

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 07/Sep/2015 18:46:35

    And by gosh I think https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] has it. The lead actor is undoubtedly in the garb of a mayor or counsellor. And, while it may be difficult to confirm that this photo was taken in Dublin in 1922 (rather than of the same play in the camp during internment), it does seem more likely that this is the case. Or, at least, I don't think we have any other Hogan photos which were taken inside an internment camp during the years of the war itself - suggesting that perhaps it was taken afterwards. The description duly updated to reflect this possibility. Thanks again all for the fantastic contributions!

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    oaktree_brian_1976

    • 07/Sep/2015 20:25:10

    Yes, internment camp has such negative implications during the Wars. This seems rather interesting. Rather ugly looking ladies, men in drag though, so it's ok

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    excellent start

    • 08/Sep/2015 00:14:45

    You should anticipate this image being removed from Explore by Flickr staff due to the presence of the photoborder.

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    judojudo

    • 08/Sep/2015 05:20:04

    VERY BEAUTIFUL SHOT, CONGRATS ON EXPLORE !!. Look at my photo, thanks! Roma - Bioparco - Mostra Pesci Alieni - Nikon D 7100

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    Niall McAuley

    • 08/Sep/2015 06:19:26

    The play is by Edward McNulty, according to the Abbey website. Written in 1914, according to wikipedia.

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    sharon.corbet

    • 08/Sep/2015 06:36:42

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/gnmcauley] It's available to read online.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 08/Sep/2015 06:43:20

    Partial typescript from 1914 is apparently at some place called the National Library of Ireland

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    sharon.corbet

    • 08/Sep/2015 06:47:55

    Speaking of which, the NLI also has a couple of things from Ballykinlar Camp including some autograph books, another copy of the play programme, and a Certificate of Proficiency in Irish.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 08/Sep/2015 06:48:08

    From Sharon's link, the character list with descriptions: Mr. O'Brien, an Ironmonger; afterwards Lord Mayor Mrs. O'Brien, his wife Moira, his daughter Gaffney, a Solicitor Kelly, his Clerk Creditors: Scanlan Doherty Mrs. Moran Major Butterfield, in the Secret Service Mrs. Murphy, Charwoman Mrs. Maloney, ditto Mansion house servants, creditors, aldermen, Councillors TIME - Present Day

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    Niall McAuley

    • 08/Sep/2015 06:55:02

    K. Mullen is O'Brien, the Lord Mayor. Miceal O Leimne is to our left of him as the Mrs, and Dick Saunders on the other side is Moira. There are three other "women", I think the two to our left are the charwomen Peter Mulvey and Sean Connolly. I can't sort out the Major, Solicitor, Clerk and Creditors though, except that the other man in drag must be one of the creditors.

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    maev.kennedy13

    • 30/Apr/2020 15:42:18

    The man in the dark coat on the far right is definitely not my grandfather, the Rajah. I wish I'd got his daughter Val Mulkerns onto this before her death in 2018, but I think JJ is the tall standing woman in the centre in the straw hat - he adored costume parts. He is of course the same JJ/Seamus/the Rajah who was interned in Frongoch in 1916, where he was also a leading light of the entertainment committee - some of the ballads he wrote there are in the Imperial War Museum collection in London. We have - and they will be coming to the library - some of his papers from Ballykinlar, include receipts for the weekly collection to buy a piano. From the backdrop, I'm pretty sure this is the Ballykinlar Players on tour, not in the camp https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]

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