The only Irishman ever to be deported by the Irish Government – Jim Gralton, the famous Leitrim socialist – will form the subject of Ken Loach’s new film, set to start filming in Leitrim this summer, with funding by the Irish Film Board.
The film will be set a decade after the events of Mr Loach’s last Irish historical drama ‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’ – about the Irish War of Independence and Civil War – which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006.
Produced by Sixteen Films’ Rebecca O’Brien and Element Pictures, ‘Jimmy’s Hall’ will be based on a screenplay by Mr Loach and Paul Laverty – inspired by Donal O’Kelly’s play ‘Jimmy Gralton’s Dancehall’.
Deported in 1933 by de Valera’s Government for his alleged communist sympathies, Jimmy Gralton was politically active during the War of Independence and, in the 1920s, erected a meeting hall on his parents’ land – the ‘Pearse-Connolly Hall in honour of the Socialist and Republican leaders of 1916’.
This hall became a focal point for Gralton’s political activities, which provoked the opposition of local clergy, who became determined to have him arrested.
In the years that followed, Gralton became a member of the Revolutionary Workers Group, spoke at anti-eviction meetings and meetings of the National Unemployed Movement.
He was a high-profile casualty of the ‘Red Scare’ that swept through Ireland during the January 1933 general election, which resulted in the new Fianna Fáil Government issuing Gralton’s deportation order as ‘an undesirable alien’.
Gralton lived out the rest of his days in the US, joining the American Labour Movement and running as a candidate for the Communist Party in the Borough elections in Manhattan before his death in New York in 1945.
Mr Loach and his production team visited Leitrim last week to scout filming locations for the upcoming shoot.