Kerry ETB Team Helps Restore ‘The Dawn’ For Friday Screening

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The local brigade in their headquarters in The Dawn Davie Hurley, Pat O'Meara, dado Hurley, Paddy Looney and Vince Doyle which was released in 1936. Photo off original film by Michelle Cooper Galvin

The local brigade in their headquarters in ‘The Dawn’. Davie Hurley, Pat O’Meara, dado Hurley, Paddy Looney and Vince Doyle which was released in 1936. Photo off original film by Michelle Cooper Galvin

“THE Dawn”  –  the celebrated classic film shot and directed by Killarney film maker Tom Cooper in Killarney in 1936 is now restored with the help of a team from the Kerry ETB centre in Tralee and ready for public screening on this Friday  in Killarney Cinema.

This film was the inspiration for “The Dawn Workshops” – A successful series of master classes by top international and award winning film makers which are now run on a regular basis for film and television practitioners by The National Digital Skills Centre at Kerry ETB Training Centre Tralee.

Continued below…

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“The Dawn” written and directed by Tom Cooper from Killarney was the first talkie made in Ireland.

He used Killarney talent from technicians to local actors, family and friends  to shoot a story loosely based on the war of independence and of course featuring the dazzling beauty of Killarney’s mountains and lakes.

Some of the local young men, who actually took part in the war of independence, found themselves roped in as actors, no doubt deemed suitable candidates to play a familiar role in Cooper’s film.

For some years now the original film has been held in a specially controlled environment in The British Film Institute in order to preserve the delicate film substance from deterioration.

Now in co-operation with the Cooper family, Brian Nolan and the Digital Skills Production  team at Kerry ETB Training Centre have digitised and restored this classic film to its former glory. It will get its first screening on 9th December in Killarney.

Brian Nolan explains the process, “the restoration process took over three months of careful, delicate work at very little cost, we used a range of software tools and it was an exciting project in which the digital skills trainees could also get involved”.  He added “ it was a labour of love and it was great to get the support of the Cooper family and in particular Diarmuid Galvin who is the great grandson of Tom Cooper and who was a former trainee on our course”.

Tom Cooper was no doubt the first Indie film maker in Ireland.  As a boy  he was  probably influenced by the visit of Kalem Film studios of New York to Killarney around 1910 to make films based on local stories like the Coleen Bawn.

Kalem’s plan to set up a studio near Killarney ended with the arrival of war in 1914.  After Tom Cooper’s well received  film “The Dawn” in 1936 some held out the hope that Killarney could become the Hollywood of Europe.  Another war ended that dream.

In the late 30s “The Dawn” was screened in England and New York where it was well received and was said to draw praise from Maud Gonne and others in the Literary Revival.

Now it’s a legacy; a focus of family pride,  with the family lore recalling stories of Walt Disney visiting Kerry in the 50s and meeting Tom Cooper – the man who made ‘The Dawn’.

Michelle  Cooper Galvin recalls her grandfather with affection, “he was an  innovator, his two big passions were films and tourism, I think he made the film to promote Killarney as a  tourist destination;  he founded The Glebe Hotel and opened a cinema in Killarney and was the first to bring bus-loads of visitors to Killarney”.

But today “The Dawn” is also a motivator for some talented Kerry people who live and dream about filmmaking and want  to build on that legacy and bring a bit of Hollywood back to Kerry.  Diarmuid Galvin, a great grandson of Tom Cooper is a co-creator with Brian Nolan of “The Dawn Workshops”.

These  large scale film-making workshops are part of a series of Masterclasses – called “The Dawn Workshops” – led by Brian Nolan an instructor in Digital Production at Kerry ETB.

They are aimed at emerging filmmakers, directors and technicians who will get an opportunity to learn from top international professionals at a fraction of what they would have to pay if they participated in the same workshops in America or the UK.

Filmmakers from all over Ireland and beyond have attended these highly acclaimed masterclasses which showcase the top practitioners in all the skill-sets in film and television production.

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