RTE’s new drama ‘Rebellion’ has rightly received glowing reviews. The sense of period is impressive, with many of the familiar city locations miraculously stripped of their twenty-first century clutter – even to the extent of Nelson’s pillar reappearing outside the G.P.O. Costumes and interiors have been carefully assembled, although in some cases the latter were definitely not filmed in the buildings where the action was supposed to be taking place. This was the case in the scene where British civil servant Charles Hammond (played by Tom Turner) and his secretary May (Sarah Greene) are having an extra-marital interlude in a bedroom of the Shelbourne Hotel, rudely interrupted as a Citizen Army soldier bursts into the room. My own surprise was if anything greater than the on-screen couple’s when I saw that the room was papered in our ‘Malahide’ pattern – a Regency gothic design dating from the 1820’s. A bit of mental backtracking through our order book identified the location as Cabinteely House in south County Dublin, often used for film locations. In fact, another room in Cabinteely (this one papered with our reproduction of a pattern from Newbridge House), also appeared in last night’s episode, representing the drawing room in trainee doctor Elizabeth Butler’s family home, which she leaves on the morning of her wedding to join the rebels in City Hall. The location of the fictional Charles Hammond’s house – where he rather unwisely sends May to wait out the rebellion in the company of his wife – is Marlay House, where May’s bedroom is papered in our reproduction of a pattern from the 1790s found in the house in the course of conservation back in the 1990s.
Two of these patterns – ‘Malahide’ and ‘Newbridge’ – were first produced in the 1820s by the Dublin wallpaper maker Patrick Boylan, the leading paper-stainer and decorator of his day. Their use in the 1916 drama is therefore a little anachronistic, although few would notice this.
This is not the first time our wallpapers have been hung in the cause of Irish freedom. In 1995 we made wallpaper for the set of Neil Jordan’s ‘Michael Collins’, in which the role of Liam Tobin was played by Brendan Gleeson – whose son Brian appears in ‘Rebellion’ as Jimmy.
‘Malahide’ also made an appearance recently in ‘The Invisible Woman’, directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes, where it decorated the walls of Charles Dickens’ study.