Irish Film Series: Secrets of the Dead: Irish Escape – 10/26 at 7pm

“The Irish in Film,” the free movie series sponsored by the Irish Studies Committee at Fairfield University, opens on Wednesday, October 5 with four diverse films. Now in its fourth year, the series is part of Fairfield University’s “Arts & Minds” season of cultural and intellectual programs.

The final film in the series on October 26 is “Secrets of the Dead: Irish Escape” (2009), a PBS documentary on the Irish political prisoners, The Fremantle Six, and their improbable escape from Fremantle Prison in Western Australia. The six men were Irish-born British soldiers and Fenians, a secret revolutionary group committed to violently overthrowing British rule in Ireland. They were arrested in 1866, convicted of treason, and sent for life to Fremantle, Australia, described in the film as “the most notorious jail in the British Empire.” One of the six, James Wilson, writes to John Devoy, the prisoners’ civilian leader, who was allowed to exile to America where he was working as a journalist for the New York Herald. Devoy responds to Wilson’s appeal by raising money from Americans sympathetic to the cause of Irish independence and devising an escape plan. This involves the recruitment of Captain George Smith Anthony of New Bedford, Mass., and his whaling ship, “Catalpa.” In 1874, Anthony sails to Australia and, in an attempt to rescue the prisoners, engages in a sea battle with the “HMS Georgette.” The suspenseful and realistic reenactment of the drama is directed and produced by Lisa Horney and narrated by Liev Schreibek. Dr. William Abbott, associate professor of history, will present the film and field questions from the audience afterwards.

The films will be shown in the Multimedia Room of the DiMenna-Nyselius Library on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. The films will be introduced by professors who teach in the Irish Studies program. Fairfield University welcomes students as well as the greater community to this free event. Light refreshments will be served.

For more information, please contact Marion White, Irish Studies Committee, at (203) 254-4000, ext. 3021 or e-mail her at mwhite@fairfield.edu.

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