Belfast Telegraph

Down man makes film about Irish war hero priest Willie Doyle

By Mark Edwards

A Co Down man has been chosen to direct a ground-breaking docudrama about the bravery of an Irish Jesuit priest who saved the lives of members of the original Ulster Volunteer Force during the First World War.

Bravery under Fire documents the life of Fr Willie Doyle, an army chaplain who repeatedly went into no man's land to drag soldiers back to safety during the Great War.

The tale is directed by Newcastle man Campbell Miller who is filming on location in Passchendaele, Ireland and England.

In April 2018 for the first time the events of Fr Doyle's extraordinary life will be brought to the big screen and will include readings from his personal diaries, historical footage and re-enactments of his many brave actions.

Mr Miller said: "I accepted this project as I believe Fr Willie Doyle is a forgotten hero.

"While other soldiers have got the Victoria Cross for showing one act of bravery, Fr Doyle performed miraculous acts of bravery each day he was on the front line.

"In this secular age there is a lot to be learned from his actions, his teachings and his respect for all others regardless of their creed."

Fr Doyle was born in Dalkey outside Dublin and was the youngest of seven children. He was ordained as a Jesuit priest in 1907 before serving in the Army chaplains' department of the British Army during the war.

He was killed in the Battle of Langemarck in Belgium in August 1917 when he was hit by a German mortar when trying to save injured soldiers from the 36th Ulster Division, which was made up of members of the original UVF.

There have been recent calls for Fr Doyle, who was ordained as a priest along with Fr John Sullivan, to also be made a saint.

The high budget docudrama, produced by EWTN Ireland, will also bring significant job opportunities when it goes into production in Ireland next month. It will be shot in London and Belgium, with the majority of its First World War re-enactments taking place in Ireland on locations in Templepatrick and at Castlewellan Castle.

Aidan Gallagher, chief executive of EWTN Ireland, said: "We are absolutely delighted to be producing this movie. It will bring the story of Fr Doyle and his selfless heroism to a wider audience. It is a new opportunity for EWTN and I wish Campbell every success."

The docudrama is due to be screened in Dublin and Belfast next year. Mr Campbell, who studied film at Ball State University in Indiana, has more than a decade of experience directing documentaries and short films.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph