Animated film tells of 14-year-old soldier in Michael Collins’ assassination unit

One of the young men in Michael Collins’ assassination and counter-intelligence unit has become a voice from the grave in a new animated film telling the story of being a 14-year-old soldier in the Easter Rising.

Film-makers created foot-tall puppets and miniature sets of Dublin’s GPO and St Stephen’s Green to depict Vinny Byrne’s role alongside 1916 rebel leader Thomas MacDonagh in the Jacob’s biscuit factory.

A Terrible Hullabaloo uses documentary recordings from 1980 when, aged 78, the former teenage Irish Volunteer recalls the dramatic events and his role in the revolution.

Writer Aoife Noonan said: “We took the audio from him talking about the Rising, so he narrates it himself.

“He’s a character you warm to. Immediately he’s funny, a little cheeky oul lad. You don’t really see many of his generation of old lads now.

“When he talked in the documentary, he said when he was arrested after the Rising by the British, they asked him what he was doing in the factory.

“He said ‘fighting for Ireland, but I never fired a shot’.

“He was a character.”

The eight-minute short made using 10 puppets was produced by Bowsie Workshop in Dublin’s Liberties.

New animated film on 1916 tells of 14-year-old soldier in Michael Collins’ assassination unit
A puppet of Vinny Byrne, one of Michael Collins’s hitmen, which has become a voice from the grave in a new animated film telling the story of being a 14-year-old boy soldier in the Easter Rising. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire

It was made as part of the Irish Film Board’s After ‘16 initiative, which asked film-makers to produce stories about the Rising, fact and fiction, which illuminate, surprise, and provoke.

It premieres at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival on Sunday, with Mr Byrne’s niece Theresa Croker and her daughter Dolores to attend.

Mr Byrne was initially told to leave the Jacob’s factory by older volunteers because of his age but made his way back in among the ranks of the 2nd Battalion and ultimately held prisoner two policemen at gunpoint.

From 1919, he was said to have played a key role in The Squad, the counter-intelligence and assassin unit assembled by Collins in the War of Independence.


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