Lock up your daughters

Kieran Street, Kilkenny, during the filming of ‘Lock up your daughters’. In the background is Callaghan and Connolly furniture shop.

BY Cois Céim and the Kilkenny Saturday walking group.
Thanks to the recent work by Cartoon Saloon, Kilkenny has become known as the ‘Home of Film making’.

Kilkenny-based Cartoon Saloon is a five-time Academy Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA and Emmy nominated animation studio formed by Paul Young, Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey. From award-winning shorts to feature films and TV series, Cartoon Saloon has carved a special place in the international Animation industry.
And we should not forget Young Irish Film Makers who were founded in 1991. Under Artistic Director Mike Kelly, they produced such gems as ‘Under The Hawthorn Tree’, ‘D’Boyz’, ‘The Children , ‘Stealaway and many more.
Before that there was small work carried out sporadically. But today’s look at film concentrates on ‘Lock Up your Daughters’, which although it never reached the dizzy heights of Oscar nominations, certainly proved to be a talking point for the people of Kilkenny .

In 1968, in the year of the Prague Spring, International student insurrection and the assassination of Martin Luther King , the local newspaper announced that
“Hollywood comes to Kilkenny” because a colourful one million pound film begins, “ soldiers on horseback, per wigged gentlemen, footmen, ladies in long flowing gowns and bustles, period coaches, sedans and action galore” with a cast of some of the most impressive names in British cinema.
These were the scenes to be found all over the city  as the filming of Lock up your daughters began.

In the past, filmmakers had come to Ireland to film Irish stories set in vast landscapes of mountains , valleys and the sea, but Lock up your daughters is an English story, told by an English production company, who required an urban built landscape , a place that resembled London in the 1700’s. That place was Kilkenny. The castle, narrow streets and laneways ideally suited the period settings.

The film uses Henry Fieldings ‘Rape upon Rape’ and ‘The Release’ by John Vanburgh as the basis of the screenplay by Keith Waterstone, and Willis Hall.
The film was directed by renowned theatre director Peter Coe and was produced by Domino Films.
It is 102 minutes long with an X certificate.
It starred Christopher Plummer, Susanna York, Glynis Johns and Jim Dale and was released in 1969.

The film had a rather confused plot about 3 lusty sailors whose amorous pursuits entangle them with the corrupt Lord Flopington and Sir Tunbelly.
Thirsting for wine and women they set out to look for excitement.
Unfortunately their wooing results in comedy and passion as they are drawn into intrigues, plots, counterplots, preposterous misunderstandings and miscalculations.
The outdoor filming process brought great excitement to the city and county, as well a huge boost to the local economy and people still talk about it with great fondness and appreciation for the explosion of glamour and crazy cultural expression.

Some locals auditioned for parts and appear in the film but some difficulties arose when recruiting extras.
It proved almost impossible to persuade local women to play buxom wenches in low cut gowns, especially when rumours spread that women were being offered up to 150 pound to run naked in the streets.
Some locals felt that due to the inappropriateness of the subject matter that it was ‘not fit to be filmed and that it would result in the city getting a bad name’ and eventually extras were recruited from Dublin and England.

The film was not a critical success.
The director Peter Coe, returned to the theatre and never worked in film again. Neither Christopher Plummer nor the screenwriters include it in their filmography. Domino Productions are no longer in existence.
The movie has little or no connection to the original works of Fielding or Vanburgh, But it did entertain the inhabitants of Kilkenny for a few short months in 1968.

Sources: Cois Céim, Saturday Walkers Club, Rosemary Barnes, Kilkenny archaeological Society, Community radio Kilkenny city.

Previous Barnstorming in Kilkenny for thirty years
Next Kilkenny hosts 3rd annual Marble City Mile Swim Event