An author has discovered that one of the most famous films in Irish history features an actor who took part in the Easter Rising.
Dermot McEvoy is an expert on the Easter Rising and he reveals that the man who played the Reverend Mister Playfair in The Quiet Man was one of the rebels imprisoned in Stafford 36 years earlier.
The Quiet Man stars John Wayne as an Irish emigrant who returns to his homeland to reclaim a farm that is rightfully his.
The 1952 hit movie also featured Dublin born brothers Barry Fitzgerald and Arthur Shields. Both were born on Walsworth Street in Dublin in the late 19th century. Both men often played Catholic priests in their films but were actually born into a Protestant family.
Shields was tasked with running the Rising’s Radio Station
Arthur was a member of the Irish Volunteers. He had hidden a rifle under the stage at the Abbey Theatre. On Easter Monday he retrieved the rifle and joined James Connolly and his men at Liberty Hall.
He was part of the group that occupied the General Post Office along with Connolly, Michael Collins, Patrick Pearse, Tom Clarke and Sean MacDiarmada.
Arthur Shields was one of a small group of the Volunteers tasked with running the Rising’s Radio Station. Using stolen equipment they broadcast news of the Rising to the world. They continued for about 24 hours until the British shelled the building on the corner of Lower Abbey Street, and it burnt to the ground. This was a world’s first in the use of radio by any revolutionary group.
Shields was captured and imprisoned in England and later in Wales along with Collins. They were both released at Christmas 1916.
Fitzgerald was born William Joseph Shields and went on to win an Oscar for his performance in Going My Way. The building where the brothers were born is next to the Jewish museum in Dublin and contains a plaque to commemorate Fitzgerald’s birthplace.