Scene from the Cannes Film Festival premiered Jimmy’s Hall, a film based on the life of Irish political firebrand, Jimmy Gralton, starring north Sligo-based retired farmer and trade unionist, Aileen Henry.
Sligo News File Online
A fearless campaigner for rights of rural families, and one of the
leading lights in a Sligo agri organisation that vigorously challenged
the local political establishment on the contentious issue of farm water charges, Aileen, who had no previous film or stage experience, has won critical acclaim for her role as Gralton’s quiet but indomitable mother, Alice.
Written by Paul Laverty, and produced by Rebecca O’Brien, Jimmy’s
Hall was shot in Sligo and Gralton’s native Leitrim. The production
was directed by the celebrated British filmmaker Ken Loach, who
received the Palme d’Or in Cannes in 2006 for the movie The Wind
That Shakes The Barley – one of his upwards of thirty cinema and
television movies and stage productions.
With Aileen, the cast includes stars of stage, screen and television:
Barry Ward (James Gralton), Simone Kirby (Oonagh), Andrew Scott
(Father Seamus), Jim Norton (Father Sheridan) and Brian F. O’Byrne
Chris MacManus landed a part as Taighe, a short speaking role.
Born in Effernagh, Gowel, the de Valera government, in
1933, under pressure from the Catholic Church, ordered Gralton to be deported as an “undesirable alien,” the only Irish person ever expelled from their own country. He died in New York in 1945, and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetary
The film was released in late 2014.
Aileen is pictured fourth from right.