This year the Boston Irish Film Festival present a unique multimedia event that takes you back to the early 1910s when pioneering screenwriter/actress Gene Gauntier and director Sidney Olcott of the Kalem Film Company blazed a trail from New York to Killarney—and into history.

Affectionately known as the “O’Kalems,” Gauntier, Olcott, and their crew became the first American filmmakers to shoot overseas and the first to produce films that reflected the realities of the Irish experience.

A sentimental mix of rebel dramas, folk romances and tales of exile and emigration, their films proved tremendously popular with the Irish in America and helped ease the ease the pangs of being so far from home.

At the Boston Irish Film Festival on Monday, November 23, Blazing the Trail presents a selection of these rarely-seen films with live musical accompaniment and interspersed with popular Irish parlor songs from the period.

All films have been digitally restored, with some receiving their first public screening in almost a century!

The event will also feature a series of originally produced short films, which draw upon the autobiography of Gene Gauntier’s to recount the adventures of the “O’Kalems” in Ireland.

Also featured will be a series of short films (shot exclusively for this event and directed by Boston Irish Festival co-founder and co-director Peter Flynn) that bring Gauntier’s words to life, taking us back to the actual locations in Killarney (many largely unchanged, despite the century’s passage) to celebrate this important—yet largely forgotten—chapter in early film history.

For more information , or to purchase tickets, visit:

Films to be screened:

  • The groundbreaking “Lad from Old Ireland” (1910)
  • The 1798 rebel drama “Rory O’More” (1911)
  • “You Remember Ellen” (1912), based on the popular poem by Thomas Moore
  • The charming emigration drama “His Mother” (1912), long believed lost, and here receiving its first public screening in almost a century!