Saturday, March 6, 2010


On Sunday 28th February 2010 a film screening of Barry Lyndon was hosted at Kilbrogan House which is a fine early nineteenth century Georgian house circa 1818, situated in Bandon and owned by our committee member Catherine FitzMaurice to whom we are grateful for both organising and hosting the event. Cork Chapter member Kevin Hurley presented a short biography of W.M. Thackeray and an overview of the novel and how the film differs from it. Cork Chapter members brought cakes and sandwiches for those attending to enjoy during the intermission. Catherine and her brother David oversaw the transformation of their home to a cinema in order to accommodate the forty or so viewers and David kept the members supplied with tea and coffee ably assisted by members of the Cork Chapter committee.

W.M. Thackeray (1811-1863) a novelist and journalist was born in Calcutta and in 1817he was sent to England to be educated as a gentleman. From Charterhouse school, he was sent to Cambridge in 1829. He married imprudently and tragically his wife went mad, leaving him to care for her and his two daughters. Barry Lyndon was first published in 1844. In later years he suffered from ill-health and he died suddenly in December 1863. His wife Isabella Shawe-Creagh of Doneraile survived him by thirty one years and died in 1894.

Although Barry Lyndon was released in 1975 it was only a modest commercial success at the time, and had a mixed critical reception, in recent years it has come to be regarded not only as one of Stanley Kubrick's finest films, but also as a classic of world cinema. Much of Barry Lyndon was filmed in Ireland at Huntingdon Castle, Kells Priory, Cahir Castle; Waterford Castle grounds, the hall and saloon of Powerscourt Co. Wicklow (now destroyed) and Dublin Castle. The second half of the film moved to England and locations include: Blenheim; Castle Howard; Dunrobin Castle; Wilton (Double cube room) Stourhead gardens; Corsham Court and Dodington Park.

THE NOVEL ‘Barry Lyndon’

The novel was first serialized as The Luck of Barry Lyndon in Frazer’s Magazine in 1844 and subsequently revised and reprinted in two volumes as The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon in 1852. It is set in the eighteenth century and presents itself as the autobiography of an Irish adventurer whose boastful accounts of his exploits serve only to reveal the extent of his villainy. Redmond Barry of Brady’s Town fights a duel and escapes to Dublin, where he changes his name to Barry Redmond, lives a fast life and falls into debt (as had happened Thackeray while at Cambridge).

He enlists as a soldier and fights on both sides in the Seven Years War, eventually meeting up with his lost uncle, Cornelius Barry, who as the Chevalier de Balibari joins with Barry in a career of card-sharpening. After various adventures abroad, he lays siege to a wealthy widow, the Countess of Lyndon. He changes his name to Barry Lyndon and embarks on a career of extravagance, ill-treating his wife, bullying his step-son and ruining a fine family fortune. When his son Bryan is killed in a riding accident, his luck changes, and the family regains control of the estate and Barry is forced to live abroad on a pension. With the death of Lady Lyndon (his pension is cancelled) and he becomes penniless, ends his life in the Fleet prison tended by his faithful mother.

BARRY LYNDON THE FILM (differs from the novel)

I. By What Means Redmond Barry Acquired the Style and Title of Barry Lyndon.

In the opening scene, set in 1750s Ireland, the father of Irishman Redmond Barry (Ryan O'Neal) is killed in a duel over the sale of some horses. This detail is related by the film's narrator, who comments ironically on the events that transpire. The widow, disdaining offers of marriage, devotes herself to the raising of her son.

Location: Huntingdon Castle & Waterford Castle
When Barry is a young man, he falls in love with his cousin, Nora Brady. She likes him well enough to seduce him, but when the well-off English Captain John Quin appears on the scene, the poverty-stricken Barry is quickly dropped. She and her whole family are set on relieving their financial difficulties with an advantageous marriage. Barry refuses to accept the situation and (seemingly) kills Quin in a duel.

Location: Kells Priory
Fleeing the law, Barry travels towards Dublin, but is robbed by a famous highwayman, Captain Feeney, and his son Seamus, leaving Barry little choice but to join the British army. Later, he is reunited with a family friend, Captain Grogan, who informs him that the duel was faked. Barry's pistol was not loaded with a real bullet, but one made with tow, and Quin had only fainted with fear.It was staged so as to get him out of the way, so the cowardly Quin could be coaxed into marrying Nora, thereby securing the family's financial situation.

Location: Cahir Castle & Powerscourt House, The Entrance Hall
Barry's regiment is sent to fight in the Seven Years' War in Europe. During one skirmish, Grogan is fatally wounded, and Barry deserts at the first opportunity, impersonating a courier. He spends a few pleasant days with Lischen, a lonely woman whose husband is away fighting. When he resumes his journey, he encounters a Prussian captain, Potzdorf, who sees through his disguise. Given the choice of joining the Prussian army or being taken for a deserter, Barry enlists in his second army. During one battle, he saves Potzdorf's life.

Location: Powerscourt House, The Saloon & Dublin Castle, Drawing Room;
Dodington Park (UK)
After the war ends in 1763, Barry is employed by the Prussian Minister of Police, Potzdorf's uncle. It is arranged for him to become the servant of the Chevalier de Balibari (Patrick Magee), a professional gambler. The Prussians suspect that he is a spy and Barry is assigned to try to determine if he is. However, when Barry finds out the chevalier is a fellow Irishman, he confesses all to him and they become confederates.

Location: Dublin Castle, Drawing Room
Barry assists the chevalier in cheating at card games, but when the Prince of Tübingen suspects the truth after losing a large sum, they are unceremoniously expelled from Prussia. They wander from place to place, cheating the nobles. Barry proves to be very useful; when a loser refuses to pay his debts, Barry's excellent swordsmanship convinces him otherwise.

Location: Powerscourt House, The Saloon
Hardened by his experiences, Barry decides to better himself by marrying well. During the course of his travels, he encounters the beautiful and wealthy Countess of Lyndon (Marisa Berenson). Barry has little difficulty seducing her, and she soon falls in love. Shortly thereafter, her sickly husband, Sir Charles Lyndon, dies.

II. Containing an Account of the Misfortunes and Disasters Which Befell Barry Lyndon.

The following year (1773), Lady Lyndon and Barry are married. Young Lord Bullingdon, Lyndon's son by Sir Charles, hates Barry from the beginning, knowing that Barry is not in love with his mother. The marriage is not a happy one, although they welcome a new son, Bryan Patrick. Barry enjoys himself and is unfaithful to his wife while keeping her in dull seclusion.

Barry brings his mother over from Ireland to live with him. She warns her son that his position is precarious. If Lady Lyndon were to die, all her wealth would go to her son Lord Bullingdon. Barry would be left penniless. Barry's mother advises him to obtain a noble title to protect himself. He cultivates the acquaintance of the influential Lord Wendover with this goal in mind, spending much money to grease his way. All this effort is wasted however.

One day, Lord Bullingdon announces his hatred of his stepfather and is beaten by Barry in front of many important guests. Bullingdon leaves the family estate after this, but Barry's public cruelty loses him all the powerful friends he has worked so hard to make and he is shunned socially.

As badly as he has treated his stepson, Barry proves to be a doting father to Bryan. However, when he is eight, the boy is thrown from a horse and soon dies. The grief-stricken Barry turns to drink, while Lady Lyndon seeks solace in religion, assisted by the Reverend Samuel Runt first to Lord Bullingdon and then to Bryan. Barry's mother dismisses Reverend Runt partly because they no longer need a tutor, partly for what she says is fear that his influence is making Lady Lyndon worse. Plunging even deeper into grief, she attempts suicide. Upon hearing of this, Lord Bullingdon returns and challenges Barry to a duel.

A coin flip gives Bullingdon the privilege of shooting first, but his pistol misfires. Barry magnanimously fires into the ground, but Bullingdon refuses to let the duel end there. He fires again, this time hitting Barry in the leg, which has to be amputated at the knee. While Barry is recovering, Bullingdon takes control of the estate. He offers his stepfather an annuity of 500 guineas if he leaves England; otherwise, with his credit exhausted his creditors will see to it that he is put in jail.

Wounded in spirit and body, Barry accepts. He goes first to Ireland with his mother, then to the European continent to resume his former profession of gambler, though without his former success. He never sees Lady Lyndon again. The final scene (set in 1789) shows the middle-aged Lady Lyndon signing Barry's annuity cheque.

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