Enthusiastic welcome for ‘Strokestown on film’

More than 250 people attended the launch of Strokestown on Film in the Percy French Hotel last Friday night where an eagerly-awaited film that captures aspects of the sporting, cultural, and religious life of Strokestown from 60 years ago was released for the first time. The DVD is adapted from video footages of various scenes from around Strokestown that were filmed by the late Billy Chapman between 1948 and 1952. Billy Chapman owned the Club Cinema in Strokestown. He died in 1958. ‘Strokestown on Film’ is 150 minutes long. It features pricelessly rich images of Strokestown from half a century ago. Deputy Mayor Tony Ward, Roscommon County Librarian Richie Farrell, Mr. George Reynolds, Mr. Mike Lennon, and the CEO of Mayo-Roscommon Hospice, Ms. Cynthia Clampett, spoke at the DVD launch in the Percy French Hotel. Mayor Ward and Mr. Farrell effusively lauded the importance and quality of the Strokestown on Film as a historical resource. ‘I want to pay tribute to the people who have had the foresight to save this vital evidence of an eventful period of our history,’ said Cllr. Ward, who launched the DVD.  ‘The Library Services, through its Archives and Local Studies section, is very pleased to be involved and associated with this project which preserves and promotes the recorded material of the county. We are delighted to play our part in protecting resources for future generations,’ said Mr. Farrell. Mr. George Reynolds and Mr. Mike Lennon produced Strokestown on Film. George and Michael are natives of Strokestown. Mr. Reynolds is a retired banker who spent time in Washington before returning to Dublin where he worked as Assistant Director of the Central Bank. Mike Lennon is Chairperson of the Roscommon Association in Dublin. Addressing patrons last Friday night, Mr. Reynolds remembered Mr. Chapman and his wife. He stressed the visual quality of the DVD and commented that it was a ‘rich resource’. George is custodian of the Chapman reels. He received them as a gift from Ms. Teresa Chapman.  ‘Billy Chapman arrived at our school one day when I was a boy growing up in this town. Brother Kevin asked us to sing for Billy and when we had finished he played it back to us. That was absolute magic for us at the time,’ he remembered. ‘Some time around 1970 I called to see Billy Chapman’s widow at her house on Church Street, Strokestown. She was engaged in some vigorous spring-cleaning at the time and she gave me the film roles that underpin this DVD that day. I didn’t see them for many years because it was impossible to get a 16mm projector. I did try to keep them in good condition and I think I succeeded in at least that respect. They are a rich resource and I hope that you will find this DVD interesting.’ Mr. George Reynolds extended his thanks to the Director of the Irish Film Archive for his assistance with the project.  ‘I want to thank its Director, Manus McManus, who has been of immense importance to this project, and whose work on it has gone way beyond the call of duty,’ said Mr. Reynolds. Mr. McManus was present for the launch. Deputy Mayor Ward acknowledged the work of Paul Healy, Managing Editor of Roscommon People, who produced the beautiful book that accompanies the DVD.  Tribute was paid to Mike Lennon on Friday night. Deputy Mayor Ward, County Librarian Richie Farrell, Ms. Cynthia Clampett, and Mr. George Reynolds all thanked Mr. Lennon for his efforts. ‘Above all I want to thank Mike Lennon. Mike did just everything to get this project going and to see it through to its completion here tonight. He spent hours and hours researching, liaising with the media and arranging tonight’s launch. The project simply could not have been completed without Mike Lennon,’ said Mr. Reynolds. Mr. Lennon responded that it gave him ‘enormous pleasure to be part of the project to bring 60 year old footage back to my native town.’ A 17-minute extract from the 2½ hour DVD was a feature of the launch. Strokestown on Film is available at the Percy French Hotel, at ‘Dawn till Dusk’, at Percy Hanly Spar, and at McDonagh’s newsagency, Strokestown. Funds are for Hospice Money raised by the sales of Strokestown on Film DVDs is providing much-needed funding for Mayo-Roscommon Hospice. It is hoped that the DVD, which is priced at €20, will generate €10,000 for the Hospice.   Speaking at the launch of Strokestown on Film last Friday the CEO of the Mayo-Roscommon Hospice Foundation, Ms. Cynthia Clampett, effusively thanked Mike Lennon, George Reynolds, and others associated with the DVD for their support. ‘I am delighted to be here tonight at the launch of the Billy Chapman DVD. We at the Mayo-Roscommon Hospice were thrilled some months ago when Michael Lennon contacted us to ask us if we would like to be associated with this production,’ said the Hospice representative. It is hoped that Strokestown on Film will raise €10,000 for Mayo-Roscommon Hospice. Speaking to Roscommon People last Tuesday Mr. Mike Lennon thanked everybody who bought the DVD last Friday night and said that €6,000 has already been raised.