Who shot Sergeant Kirwan?

North Dublin film on historic killings getting huge acclaim

by Rose Barrett
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A film made on historic killings in Ballyboughal in April 1921, a tense period before Ireland launched into full civil war, has been picking up awards and nominations in recent months.

The film which was made by the Fingal Old IRA Commemorative Society, supported by funding from Fingal County Council and Creative Ireland has been shown throughout locations across North Fingal and has been arousing great interest.

“The film had been entered in a number of film festivals,” said Cllr Cathal Boland, Deputy Mayor of Fingal County Council who also directed this little mystery in Ballyboughal’s history.

“It was selected for participation in the Underground Film Festival based in Dun Laoghaire which attracts entries from across Europe. It made the official selection, and I was stunned to be presented with a special achievement award!” said Cllr Boland.

“It was really exciting to have the film chosen for the festival. The making of ‘Who Shot Sergeant Kirwan’ was very much a community project, along with some people from outside the area.

“It was an amateur production, and for most participants, their first time in front of a camera. There were 62 people in total on screen – all amateurs.  The local community provided locations for filming and Laurence Ward made his farm at Fieldstown available as the set. We are hugely grateful to them all.

“But the film’s success is largely due to the cinematographer Eric Campbell from Balbriggan who was engaged to film and edit the work, and his wife who provided us with the sound track. They were amazing, the pair of them.”

Before Christmas, the film was further screened at the Milton Keyes International Film Festival and won the Best Drama Award and another nomination for director Cathal Boland.

It will be shown in other festivals,” said Cllr Boland. “One in Achill and a fringe festival in Cannes, France. We have also entered it in a few more festivals and we are optimistic we may get even further recognition!”

The Society is set to continue recording and tell the stories of the period, 1912-1922 as they relate to the Fingal area and are already in pre-production for the next film based around The Sack in Balbriggan.  

Who did shoot Sergeant Kirwan?

The story according to the director centres around an active service unit of the IRA that had been out on a mission to highjack a payroll for the RIC of the time.

“The RIC route had been changed so the IRA lads failed to engage. Some members hung around the village, but others returned to work. Then a car came to the village driven by a black and tan, which included a RIC Sergeant and two Constables.

“As the two groups got into conflict, shots were fired and Sergeant Kirwan along with an IRA man were shot. The film is based around those fatalities and the impact it had on the wider community.”

But who did shoot Sergeant Kirwan? Cllr Boland remained tight lipped but noted, the film is now available free of charge on YouTube following a successful premiere in the village of Ballyboughal.

Cllr Boland has served as a local councillor for FCC across five decades. He was first co-opted in 1983 and served until 2004 when he retired, having served as Deputy Mayor and twice as Mayor.

“I returned to active politics in 2018 when I was co-opted to replace retiring Cllr David O’Connor and am now serving as Deputy Mayor.”

Feature image: Director Cathal Boland with Lou Boland, Charlies and Emma Rooney, Peter and Triona Rooney and Laurence Ward at the awards

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