Filming of 1916 SS Alondra rescue finished

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Published on: October 21, 2013

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The film recalling the dramatic rescue of 23 people from a steamship off Baltimore during the First World War was finished on Sunday after a very busy weekend. A professional film crew from the UK, sponsored by Arts Council England, visited Baltimore to produce the film in a collaboration with the RNLI and the Baltimore Drama Group.

The production is part of an RNLI heritage project. It will focus on the work of the RNLI and coastal communities during World War One will feature in a four year exhibition entitled Hope in the Great War. Opening in February next year, this family friendly exhibition will see some of the untold stories of the RNLI’s work during WW1 brought to life with six stories from around the coast of Ireland and the UK.

The dramatic rescue goes back to the 29 December 1916 when the steamship Alondra was wrecked on the Kedge Rock, off Baltimore. Sixteen of her crew left in one of the ship’s boats, but drowned before reaching the shore. The Venerable Archeacon John Richard Hedge Becher (Honorary Secretary of Baltimore RNLI) and some volunteers launched a boat but it failed to reach the vessel. They returned to Baltimore but put off again as some of the ship’s crew had made the rock. Failing to reach the wreck they put back to shore again. At daylight they set out with rocket apparatus. About the same time, two Royal Navy trawlers came upon the scene and the efforts of all, saved 23 survivors some of whom were lowered down a 150 foot cliff.

RNLI Silver Medals for Gallantry were awarded to Archdeacon Becher and Lieutenant Sanderson for their role in helping to rescue the 23 men from Alondra.

Among the cast retelling the story at the weekend were Baltimore RNLI crew member Tadhg Collins, sea safety officer Michael Walsh, former crew member Pat Flaherty and Bernie O’Driscoll, wife of the late Bernard O’Driscoll, former Honorary Secretary.

Pat Flaherty, who plays the role of Archdeacon Becher and is the chair of Baltimore Drama Group said filming went well: ‘The Drama Group and the lifeboat crew worked very well together on this project and it created great interest locally in the history. People who’d never heard of the Alondra went and did research and found books about it’.

Michael Walsh, who played the role of one of Becher’s crew enjoed being involved: ‘I had got interested in the subject matter of the Alondra. Coming from an RNLI background, I found it a privilege to work on the historical account and an honour to work with such a professional film crew’.

Director Paul Fitzgerald of I Made This, said it was pleasure to work with all involved: ‘I had no idea what to expect before we arrived in Baltimore, but it couldn’t have gone better. The cast and crew all behaved like professionals and were a pleasure to work with’.

The cast included Pat Flaherty – Archdeacon Becher, Cornie Bohane – Man in Chair, Tadhg Collins – Alondra Crew, Michael Walsh – Baltimore rescue crew, Rupert Stutchbury – Captain, Bernie O’Driscoll – Woman and Olan Marten – Narrator.

Film crew – Paul Fitzgerald Director, Rory Fitzgerald Camera, Jude Cowgill Assistant Director, Sheelagh Broderick Producer, Jenny Gregory Co Producer, Maria Collins, Susan O’Regan, Petra Reimers, Sandra Carty Stage Crew, Tara Phelan Makeup,

Thanks to all who gave props, costumes and most of all their time. Some of the cast & crew are featured in the photograph.

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