Rebel Rossa

On Saturday, Dec.1 at 2 p.m., film maker Williams Cole, great-grandson of O’Donovan Rossa, will present a revealing program and film-showing on the life and times of the 19th-century Irish patriot, and New Yorker. Williams Cole, accomplished documentary producer and director, will introduce and discuss his documentary, Rebel Rossa. A reception will follow. Join us in the McCloskey Meeting Room in the parish house of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, 263 Mulberry Street in Manhattan.

Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa grew up in Co. Cork during the 1830s and 1840s, a period of great suffering in Ireland. As a young man he devoted his life to Irish independence, joining with the Irish Republican Brotherhood in the 1850s. Because of his rebellious political activities, subsequent convictions, and relentless resistance, late in the 1860s he was sentenced to life imprisonment for high treason. Released in 1870 as part of as amnesty agreement, he was exiled to the United States along with John Devoy and other members of the Brotherhood. In New York, Rossa as a member of Clan na Gael and the Fenians, founded The United Irishmen, a newspaper in which he called for using dynamite and armaments in a campaign of terror to win Irish freedom. And he organized some of the first bombings in English cities aimed at gaining that freedom. Rossa also organized the “Skirmishing Fund,” a cash reserve to provide money for armaments used in attacking English targets. Called a madman by his critics, Rossa asked “…why shouldn’t an Irishman be mad when he grows up face to face with the plunderers of his land and race…?” In 1885 Rossa was shot by an Englishwoman in downtown Manhattan because of his activities. While recovering he stated that he had been “wounded in the war.” For the rest of his life he remained staunchly active on behalf of Irish independence. On his death in 1915, his body was returned to Ireland for a funeral procession through the streets of Dublin and burial in Glasnevin Cemetery. The funeral contributed to the Easter Rising the following Spring, and the statement at Rossa’s graveside by Padraic Pearse has become a classic part of the movement for independence in Ireland.

Williams Cole has been producing and directing documentary films for over 15 years. His feature-length credits include Sundance Film Festival premieres like Finding Fela! (2014), 99%—The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film (2013), and the documentary Giuliani Time among other films. Recently he filmed in places like Lebanon, Senegal, India, Thailand and Chile for the Rockefeller Foundation’s “100 Resilient Cities” initiative. He has produced and directed over 60 short documentary profiles of authors for Open Road Integrated Media. He was a Fulbright Scholar at the London School of Economics and a founder of the Brooklyn Rail ( Rebel Rossa premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh and was broadcast on RTE One.

Save The Date

Rebel Rossa
Williams Cole
Saturday, Dec.1, 2018, 2 p.m.–4 p.m.
Parish House of the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral
263 Mulberry Street, Manhattan

Reception to Follow
Suggested donation: $5.

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