Tuesday, 9 October 2012

War Walks: Boyne

Here's another episode from the second series of War Walks, this time completely uncontroversial, just thought we'd go for a quiet topic instead from 1690! Boyne was filmed in 1997, and was put on YouTube a few weeks ago - enjoy!

A few behind the scenes recollections:

1) This was the only TV programme I ever worked on in Ireland, and it was partly filmed in my home town of Carrickfergus. So many people I knew locally helped out, making it one of the easiest shoots ever, so belated thanks to the good folk of Carrick.
2) There was only one Jacobite re-enactment group in the whole of Ireland when we filmed, the Sligo Living History Association. In the re-enactments they therefore played both Jacobites and Williamites
3) The programme features possibly the only ever hollow square formation demonstration filmed in history where only one corner was shown. Not enough soldiers to do whole thing, and no CGI back then!
4) For the re-enactors to use their cannons and muskets we had to have gunpowder. The rules on this were so strict in the Republic that we had to obtain supply for filming in the north - so I had the weird duty to convey a small pot of gunpowder over the border for the filming with an RUC escort from Enniskillen! Only in Ireland...
5) Richard Holmes taught me how to use a matchlock musket in between rain showers at Sligo. Just in case the Sealed Knot turned up and fancied another go at me..!
6) Andy Robertshaw was flown over from National Army Museum for one day for the musket firing sequences - think he brought a flintlock musket or pistol with him.
7) We flew out to Dublin for filming the day after Tony Blair won the 1997 election. Richard was virtually inconsolate on the plane, but we BBC lefties were delighted. I'd actually shaken hands with Tony Blair at the BBC in Bristol a few weeks before. He'd arrived for an interview, and all the staff had lined up in the car park after and shook his hand before he got on his battle bus. But history so proved Richard Holmes right on New Labour in the end though, should never have doubted the guvnor - not that I'd have gone for the Tory option...
8) Traffic in Drogheda used to be so bad it became a swear word for a while. Now there's a bypass, it is a beautiful wee town to visit - and visit the Martello Tower at Millmount, well worth it!
9) Apparently there is now a visitor centre at the Boyne - nothing there at all when we filmed though.
10) When we filmed the King Billy mural in Sandy Row in Belfast, we were virtually kicked out by locals. They didn't want us telling the story - very suspicious of media. Learned many years later that my dad lived in Sandy Row as a kid - might have helped if I'd known that!


Scottish Research Online - 5 weeks online Pharos course, £45.99, taught by Chris Paton from 26 SEP 2012 - see www.pharostutors.com
New book: It's Perthshire 1866 - there's been a murder... www.thehistorypress.co.uk/products/The-Mount-Stewart-Murder.aspx (from June 12th 2012)

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