|Theatrical Irishman Puts His Camera to
Work in Britain, Europe
By Kia Namin
Photographer, writer, director: Gerry Molumby. The man has worked for
the Irish welfare in Britain, founded theater companies, directed plays
and captured, or he would prefer 'borrowed', stunning photographs from
all over Europe.
The Irish-born multi-talent hails from Tiperrary County in the southern
half of the Emerald Isle. However in 1980, Molumby relocated to Britain
and brought his altruistic demeanor with him. "[I have] been involved in
the welfare and cultural scene of the Irish in Britain for over 30 years"
he stated. After his relocation, Molumby held a position at the National
Health Service in his new home country, at the world's largest publicly
funded health service. At the NHS, "I was mainly working with and for older
people," remarked the Irishman.
During this time, Molumby and some co-workers took the public's welfare
into their own hands and established Cricklewood Homeless Concern day center
in London. This multifaceted center still provides assistance and advice
to the homeless or those others inadequately accommodated. The center offers
a range of services, from the simplest advice on day-to-day living to an
alcohol recovery project.
Among his projects, Molumby also writes for several Irish and British
publications, including The Irish American Post and is hard at working
helping preserve and expand the Irish culture in Britain.
In 1996, Molumby founded Triskellion Irish Theater and Concert Productions
in London. Now in a partnership with London-based friend Patrick O'Connell,
the company aims to preserve and enliven Irish drama, comedy, and music
Triskellion has performed numerous classic Irish plays, such as The
Playboy of the Western World by John Millington Synge and John B. Keane’s
Maggie (Keane). At the outset of the company, the production of a play
was an involved process from beginning to end. "We cast, directed, made
the sets and produced the play from page to stage," recalled Molumby, who
concentrated on directing productions as Triskellion got off the ground.
More recently, he has has taken on promoting plays already in production.
"Our main focus now is to act as facilitators for producing Irish plays
by touring companies from Ireland and Britain," he asserted.
Since the company's conception, Molumby has led all the concert productions.
The acts are perfectly fit for cabarets, Irish centers and festivals. Showcasing
some of the best Irish entertainment from Britain’s Irish community, the
concerts employ musicians, dancers, actors and comedians to create a dazzling
show. The show is based on the model of Sunday Night at the London Palladium.
"Basically we bring together a variety of Irish artists and put on a
great show," according to Molumby. The concerts are not alien to celebrity
acts either. Irish luminaries such as Niall Toibin, Philomena Begley, Seán
Cannon from 'The Dubliners' and the late Dermot O'Brien have all swayed,
sung and serenaded with Triskellion. Triskellion is currently touring their
"The Rare Oul' Times," a two-act Irish play by Ken McElroy featuring Seán
Now living in Nottinghamshire with his wife Fiona and son Cormac, the
busy entertainer still finds time for a more personal art. "I have always
been a keen photographer and recently I noted the number I had taken over
the years and were 'saved and backed up', but felt I wanted to share,"
Molumby has photographed all over Europe, though his recently released
collection is mostly a product of his native island and new home in Nottinghamshire.
The 'snap shot' of his collection features the opulent greens, steely-gray
skies and misted rainbows that one would expect in photography of the Emerald
Isle. However, the photographic crop also yields abstraction and struggle
with the likes of the distorted Ha'penny Bridge reflected in the flow of
the River Liffey and a weathered Irish farmer. The majority of photos in
the collection are cheery, colorful images appropriate for display.
Molumby is in accordance with the photographic philosophy that "you
don't take a photograph. You ask, quietly, to borrow it." Patrons, however,
need not capture, take nor borrow. Molumby’s canvas prints can be purchase
in two sizes: Large (20" X 28") - $150, and medium (20" X 15") - $75. The
prices are inclusive of packaging and courier to the States. Find the link
to Gerry's catalogue below.
him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Molumby Visits Maureen O’Hara
Molumby recently interviewed legendary Irish actress Maureen O'Hara at
her home in Glengarriff, Co Cork, as plans gather pace for the Maureen
O'Hara Foundation Museum and Cinematography Teaching Centre. The legacy
center will be built in the beautiful village of Glengarriff by 2013, and
will offer a state-of-the-art learning facility accredited by universities
worldwide. Maureen was recently inducted into the Irish American Hall of
Fame by the Chicago-based Irish American Heritage Centre.
"Tar isteach agus suí síos." Maureen O’Hara said
as she welcomed me into her home in Glengarriff, West Cork, where she now
lives in active retirement in the bosom of Bantry Bay. I was there on her
invitation to hear more about the Maureen O’Hara Foundation being built
in the town. Ben Russell, a local photographer, accompanied me and we all
settled down for a great chat.
The first thing you notice about Maureen are her deep-set wistful eyes,
high cheek bones and still the red hair; a genuine beauty even in her 90th
year of Our Lord. She speaks with a clear, distinctive voice with an obvious
Irish-American accent. Maureen recalled that the foundation for her success
as an actress was the singing, elocution and voice projection which she
learned as a very young girl at the Ena Mary Bourke School of Drama in
Dublin. This is the main reason Maureen wants to set up her foundation
in Glengarriff; to, "give back to young people in Ireland some of the basic
techniques of speech and drama which secured me a lifelong career in the
is not an autobiography of Maureen O’Hara, or a review of the 65 films
she starred in which are there for us to enjoy over and over. But one film
stands out for the Irish Diaspora, and Maureen regards it as her favourite:
The Quiet Man. An American, Seán Thornton (John Wayne or
"The Duke" as Maureen called him throughout our chat), arrives in Ireland
and plans to settle in Innisfree, where he was born. Sean’s eye is caught
by Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen), a beautiful younger sister of the ill-tempered
Red Will Danaher. The riotous relationship that forms between Seán
and Mary Kate, punctuated by Will's pugnacious attempts to keep them apart,
forms the main plot, with Seán's past as the dark undercurrent.
Maureen O’Hara was born Maureen FitzSimons in Ranelagh, Dublin on the
17th of August 1920 into a Catholic middle class Irish family; the second
eldest of six children. From the Ena Mary Burke School, she spent some
time at the fledgling Abbey Theatre, but her father insisted she learn
some practical secretarial skills, which she did. This stood her in good
stead when she combined her acting and business careers in later life.
She went to London in 1938 and made her first important screen appearance
that same year in the Charles Laughton/Erich Pommer-produced drama Jamaica
Inn, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. She was brought to Hollywood with Laughton's
help and co-starred with him in the celebrated costume drama The Hunchback
of Notre Dame, which established O'Hara as a major new leading lady.
She was a good sport, willing to play scenes that demanded a lot of
her physically, which directors and producers appreciated; she did most
of her own stunts. She told a story of one scene where she climbed up a
ladder and had to fall back into a cattle trough; she was making me nervous
simply by the skill of her storytelling! Then she raised her voice for
the punch-line and in that John Wayne droll, said: "And the Duke said to
me, you didn’t even get your hair wet, Maureen."
Married three times with one daughter [Bronwyn Fitzsimmons Price] and
one grandson, her third husband was Charles F. Blair, who had Donegal roots.
A Brigadier General of the U.S. Air Force and a former chief pilot at Pan
Am, Charles was a pioneer of transatlantic aviation. He died in a flying
accident in 1978, just as Maureen was elected CEO and President of Antilles
Airboats. In 2006, Maureen attended the grand reopening and expansion of
the Flying Boats Museum in Foynes, Co. Limerick, where a significant portion
of the museum is dedicated to Charles.
As you can see from the architect’s image of the Maureen O’Hara Foundation,
it is a very modern building, and I came away from our meeting confident
that this will be an artistic and tourism success story. I also learned
that the foundation will not just be a museum but a vibrant and live performance
I reminded Maureen that there is a large active amateur drama movement
throughout Ireland at parish level, and asked if there will be something
for them at the foundation.
"Not only will we welcome people who have an interest in acting from
throughout Ireland but also from abroad," she said. "Here we will be teaching
acting methods, scripting, directing, and cinematography. We will be offering
qualifications in these courses and are currently accrediting our courses
to universities; we plan to have modules to enable teachers to acquire
drama teaching resources.
"We will be welcoming children to learn the skills I mentioned earlier
which launched my career, the basics of learning to speak confidently and
with good diction. There will be live performances on occasion for guests
to experience when they visit. This is our dream."
Maureen told me that the initiative is a special partnership with Cork
Co. Council, using private and public finance. She hopes the centre will
in time be the focus of the Maureen O’Hara Film Festival. We spoke briefly
on the current financial crisis in Ireland and what the foundation would
do to help Glengarriff maintain economic vibrancy.
"I love living in this beautiful area and will do anything to bring
people here and maintain the local economy," she said. "At the foundation
will be a display of much of my film memorabilia and I hope the centre
will attract lots of tourists from across the world and especially the
Irish Diaspora, to visit and stay locally. Here they can view not just
my costumes but we hope to have other stars exhibit also.
"For example we will have A Miracle on 34th Street, complete
with a Macy’s of New York original window display, depicting a scene from
the movie. Obviously there will also be a Quiet Man exhibit, as
well as a puppetry exhibit for children. There will also be an incredible
exhibit of my husband’s air ship industry to compliment the Foynes Museum.
Something for everyone."
We parted as we met; in good company, humour and song. I sang for her
the theme music of The Quiet Man, and the lyrical poem Lake Isle
of Innisfree, and she duly joined in.
As she escorted us to the door and thanked us for visiting, she remarked,
"Did you know that my mother-in-law, Mrs. Blair, lived to 102? God willing
I hope to outlive her."
Good on you Maureen, and God bless you.