The Abduction Club
After looking at the information I had found- it was obvious that heiress' were indeed abducted by the younger son's of wealthy families in Ireland. So there you had it the film is based on true events, should I have stopped there, maybe? but I still had this nagging question, the film follows a club- an abduction club. So...was there an actual abduction club.
Yes there was (how cool is that!) in fact there were many, however they only operated within the South of Ireland but they consisted of more varied members than you would think. The impression I was under after watching the film was that The Abduction Club was strictly a society for younger son's of wealthy families. Although these younger son's made up the bulk of the club, even farmers and those of low social class were involved in these clubs too. I believe due to the differences in social class of the men, it is probably very likely that many of these clubs existed- according to county and also class. We know from the film that the particular club that Byrne and Strang were members of was The Wicklow Abduction Club.
These clubs were assisted by individuals all over the country and in any and every social class. Information was relayed as to when a young woman was available along with details about her family and fortune. Then just as in the film, the members would draw lots or 'toss up' for her and it was the duty of the other club members to assist the man who won to abduct the young lady in question.
The Characters in the film
Okay so the tag line that the film is based upon true events is looking somewhat better. So far the research has given shown us that:
- The abducting of heiress in Ireland actually happened
- The younger son's of wealthy families in Ireland were left virtually penniless
- Abduction clubs really did exist.
- And these clubs did consist of younger sons.
Catharine and Anne did exist, they were the wealthy daughters of Richard Kennedy and lived in the county of Waterford in 1770. Their father was dead and they lived with their mother. They were but mere girls at the time, Catharine was 15 while Anne was a year younger at 14. This is significantly different to the ages of the sisters in the film (Anne was 17 while Catharine is thought to me around 20 or 21). Anne is said to have been generally thought the more beautiful, although both girls were lovely, and she was said to have 'determination and haughtiness of character'. Catharine's disposition was simply likened to that of Byrne's (see below).
James Strang and Garrett Byrne were also real people. They were said to be popular fellows who were both reckless, spirited and dashing. Strang, is described quite differently to how he was portrayed in the film, he was said to be bad tempered and tyrannical. Byrne's description is similar to Daniel Lapaine's portrayal of him in the film, he was gentle and someone everyone liked, he was sensitive towards women and very different to the disposition of Strang.
I hope you enjoyed this post. The 4th and final post will be posted tomorrow. It will focus upon the actual events in the film- how true is the actual storyline.