Mary Jane Irwin’s New York great-grandson in Clonakilty

As part of his upcoming film on his great-grandmother, Mary Jane Irwin (Mrs. O’ Donovan Rossa), from Clonakilty, Williams Rossa Cole from New York paid a visit recently to record some footage for the film.

In a series of engagements, partly organised by members of Dúchas Clonakilty Heritage, Mr. Cole and his cameraman visited Rossmore Theatre where they recorded some scenes from last August’s centenary event marking Mary Jane’s passing in 1916.

Michael O’ Mahony and Nora Scannell who were the two “players” were interviewed as was Maria Young, scriptwriter who also wrote last years play “Rossa”.

It was then onto the West Cork Regional Museum in Clonakilty where they met Michael O’Connell, curator, who showed them the Rossa and Mary Jane Irwin display and spoke of the history of the couple and the Irwin family.

They then visited the Michael Collins House Museum at Emmet Square, where they met Eileen Quill originally from New York but now living in Youghal, who is a great-granddaughter of Mary Jane and Rossa, and Jamie Murphy, manager.

Eileen pointed out items she had donated to the Rossa/Fenian room in the house when it opened last April – including a bracelet presented to Mary Jane while on a speaking tour in America in the 1860’s.

The day’s filming concluded with a visit to “Strand House” – where the Irwin family lived in the 1860’s and afterwards. There, they met the Dúchas Officers who organised last August’s Mary Jane Irwin centenary commemoration, which was held in “Strand House” itself.

Further information and photos on

Williams Cole was also in Ireland for the Cork Film Festival that weekend, where his film, “Rebel Rossa” was screened on Sunday. He recently put out a public appeal for people to support the Mary Jane film project on his website which is where people may donate if they wish.