Only one reel of this three-reel film has survived the ravages of time and so the tale is incomplete – but worth watching nonetheless. In this transatlantic tale feisty young Peggy O’Malley (Gene Gauntier) refuses her fathers’ orders to marry Jerry, the village blacksmith and runs away to New York City via steam-liner which she boards in Queenstown (now Cobh). Upon landing in New York she gets a job working as a parlour maid in the home of Wealthy Mrs Mortimer.
The film includes striking documentary-like elements in the scenes set in Ireland – at the cattle market in Killarney and scenes of the emigrant ship leaving Queenstown (now Cobh) for America.
This is all that survives of the film. Contemporaneous reviews fill in the remaining story : It’s not long before Peggy falls into a bad crowd and soon finds herself arrested for a crime she didn’t commit. With the news of Peggy’s arrest having made its way back home, will her blacksmith in shining armour come to save her from her wrongful imprisonment and take her back to Ireland?
A single reel of this 3 reel film was discovered in the Museum of Modern Art following research by IFI in preparation for a major retrospective of Irish cinema in MOMA in 2011.
To see more of The O’Kalem Collection, click here.