Mary Manning was one of a handful of women active behind the camera in Ireland’s two waves of silent film production. Between 1914 and 1926, a prolific mass-market industry specialized in popular film genres like historical melodramas and romantic comedies and dramas. Ellen O’Mara Sullivan (co-founder of and producer at Film Company of Ireland, 1914-1920), Margaret T. Pender (source writer, O’Neil of the Glen, 1916), Ulster novelist Mrs. N. F. Patton (adapter, Knocknagow, 1918), and Dorothy Donn-Byrne (source writer, Land of Her Fathers, 1925) were the female pioneers in this first wave. Between 1930 and 1935, a second silent industry produced more experimental, less commercial films, extending this second silent era well beyond the 1927 advent of sound in the U.S and much of Europe. In addition to Manning, women filmmakers included Lettice Ramsey and British- born Frances Baker Farrell who designed sets (Some Say Chance, 1934) and Gate Theatre actress Maírín Hayes who edited (Guests of the Nation, 1935). Scholars offer few details on Manning’s contribution in this second wave, though she appears to have been one of the driving forces behind five of the six films produced. In her brief, but significant film career, Manning was a screenwriter, adapter, director, assistant director, and actress who also worked on props and casting. In addition, she was a film critic and a founding member of an art house film society and an amateur filmmaking club.
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