DVD shows Strokestown scenes from 60 years ago

Over two hours of historic scenes from Strokestown and surrounding areas filmed between 1948 and 1952 are captured on a DVD to be launched at the Percy French Hotel on Friday night, 14th March at 8.30 pm. The total proceeds from the sale of the DVD will go to the Mayo Roscommon Hospice.   The movies were filmed by Billy Chapman and were originally screened in the Club Cinema, which Billy established in 1940. Some years later he acquired a movie camera and began recording what was happening in and around Strokestown. The result is a fascinating view of mid-twentieth century sporting, social, cultural and religious life in the Strokestown area.    The DVD, Strokestown On Film, The Billy Chapman Collection 1948-1952, consists of 31 segments. These include agricultural shows in the Fairgreen, fairs on the streets, Corpus Christi processions, sports days in Cloonfree and Killina, a political rally with Taoiseach John A. Costello and several ministers in attendance, the funeral of Canon Currid, the FCA and Fire Brigade in action, and Bord na Móna operations in Mount Dillon.        Most of the scenes were shot in black and white but some are in colour. The original movies have been technically enhanced to improve the picture quality.   Billy Chapman died in 1959. Some years later his wife, Teresa, moved to Dublin to manage the Grafton Cinema. She gave the reels of film to George Reynolds, a native of Strokestown. When George retired a few years ago, he donated the films to the Irish Film Archive, a division of the Irish Film Institute. However, he also wanted the movies to be seen once again by the people of the Strokestown area and in the process to financially benefit the Mayo/Roscommon Hospice Foundation.   In pursuing the DVD project, George was assisted by Mike Lennon, chairperson of the Roscommon Association in Dublin. Through the good offices of Richie Farrell, County Librarian, Roscommon County Council has generously provided the necessary financial support to produce the DVD.    A 16-page booklet has been prepared with the kind assistance of Paul Healy, editor of Roscommon People, to accompany the DVD. The booklet describes each segment and lists some individuals who have been identified.   An open invitation is extended to the people of Strokestown and surrounding areas to the DVD launch on Friday night in the Percy French Hotel, kindly made available by Leo and Chrissie Cox. The DVD will be available for a contribution of €20 to the Mayo/Roscommon Hospice Foundation. Contact: Mike Lennon 087-252-3305. mtlennon@eircom.net