Ulster forge IMG_2517

FANCY abandoning those home comforts and taking your family back in time to the late 19th century ? A Newry-based film company is looking for an Irish-speaking family from Ulster to help re-enact one of the most shameful episodes in Ireland’s history.

On December 26 and 27 1881 landlord Hector Frederick McNeill evicted 13 tenant families from their homes at Carrowmenagh in North Inishowen, Co Donegal. According to Sean O Cearbhaill of Big Mountain Productions, McNeill would have had them thrown out on Christmas Day were it not for the fact that the law forbade it. What became known as the ‘ Carrowmenagh Evictions ‘ happened at the height of the Land War when Michael Davitt and Charles Stewart Parnell led a campaign against extortionate ‘ rack rents ‘ imposed on tenant farmers.

RIC and Hussars at an eviction

Appeals by the parish priest of Moville, Fr Michael Farnan, to McNeill to accept a portion of the rent fell on deaf ears and he ordered his agent, James GH Harvey of Derry, to proceed with the evictions. Accompanied by a troop of the ( RIC ) Royal Irish Constabulary and the British Army, the tenants were forced from their homes, which were then destroyed. Many families found shelter with friends in neighbouring areas but some were forced to brave the elements. Now those scenes will be re-enacted in The Lost Village, which is due to be broadcast on RTE in March. The billingual programme will be screened as part of Seachtain na Gaeilge ( Irish Language Week ).

Big Mountain Productions wants two families to spend three days in a traditional thatched long-house at Omagh’s Ulster American Folk Park – a similar residence to those in which the evicted families lived. Mr O Cearbhaill said one family has already been signed up but a second which speaks Ulster-Irish is needed for filming from January 12 to 14. After the traditional overindulgence of a 21st century Christmas participants will revert to clothing from the time and eat a meagre 1880’s diet. The film-makers have already uncovered an amazing link between the evictions and the family already signed up for the production.

” They are a US family who were originally from Carrowmenagh and are coming over as part of The Gathering [ the Irish government’s Diaspora reunion next year ]. They are coming to retrace their ancestors ‘ daily lives in Donegal,” he said. Mr O Cearbhaill said the ideal family would include parents and children over the age of 12. However, the group could also be brothers or sisters or in-laws or indeed any family connection. For the successful family, three days of authentic 1881 living is promised – free from smartphones, computers and even electricity. However, the producers have agreed to give in on one front – the children will not have to go barefoot as they probably did in 1881. Any family interested in taking part can contact Mr O Cearbhaill by calling 028 3083 4046 or emailing



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s