Friday, January 5, 1996

Pasley-Glynn Cine Variety Company

I was handed an old leather attaché case a while ago and asked to look through its contents. The bearer of this request was himself the scion of an illustrious old theatrical family, and as one might expect, the contents were an interesting mixture of theatrical ephemera dating from the 1930’s and the 1940’s.

The bag itself was stamped with the letters J.M.A.P., which after a little detective work I deduced were the initials of Jonathan M.A. Pasley, one half of the Pasley-Glynn Cine Variety Company which flourished in the midlands almost 60 years ago. Posters for the Company’s performances in Newbridge Picture Palace and the cinema in Mountmellick were found neatly folded in the leather bag. The earliest poster for the Newbridge Cinema, of which P. Foy and J. McGovern were named as lessees, gave a programme, for Saturday and Sunday November 20th and 21st, of “Buck Jones” on the screen and a supporting variety show. No details of the variety performance or the performers were given except to indicate admission charges of 4d, 9d and 1/4d.

The poster for the Mountmellick performance indicated admission prices of 2/=, 1/4d and 8d and might consequently be a few years later than the Newbridge show. Again, the Pasley-Glynn Cine Variety Company were offering the latest in variety with a change of film every night of the week. This time however, the variety programme was detailed, with J.M.A. Pasley billed as Ireland’s own male impersonator. The Two Namrehs, a German comedy acrobatic duo, shared billing with Mr. Knoto, a Japanese contortionist. Mon Nomen, “Never has Ireland seen such a Genius” came near to the end of the programme as did E.T. O’Rourke-Glynn described as Ireland’s Youngest Basso. Glynn, was of course, Ernest O’Rourke-Glynn of Athy, the other half of the Pasley-Glynn Cine Variety Company. It would seem that the Company operated in the mid-1930’s with Pasley as musical director and E.T. O’Rourke-Glynn as director and secretary, with offices at Rathloe House, 47 Upper Rathmines Road, Dublin and the Theatrical Stores, Athy. The latter address was the home of the O’Rourke-Glynns. In a handbill printed for performances in the Electric Cinema, Kildare, it was claimed for the Pasley-Glynn Company “This is the first Cine Variety Company which ever toured Ireland”.

The bag yielded up tickets for a performance of what was described as a “Spectacular domestic costume Irish drama by O’Rourke-Glynn”, titled ‘Mavourneen’, given in the Town Hall, Athy on Wednesday and Thursday the 15th and 16th of June 1936, in aid of the Arranmore disaster fund. A letter from the Town Clerk of Athy Urban District Council J.W. Lawler, dated the 5th of December 1935, expressed the Council’s appreciation of the offer ‘to carry out a play in the Town Hall, Athy, for the bereaved relatives of the Arranmore disaster and to contribute 50% of the proceeds for the worthy cause.”

Another poster advertised dancing in the Ritz Ballroom, Carlow, on Wednesday the 4th of October 1939, and on every succeeding Wednesday, to Ernest Glynn’s Cabaret Band. Tickets were 1/6d, with dancing from 9.00 p.m. to 11.30 p.m.

The varied career of Ernest O’Rourke-Glynn was highlighted by other pieces of theatrical ephemera found in Pasley’s old leather attaché case. Programmes for the Gaiety and the Olympia Theatres in Dublin featured performances in the early 1940’s for which costumes were designed and supplied by O’Rourke-Glynn. A copy for May 1944 of the “Commentary”, a theatrical magazine edited by Sean Dorman, reported :

“The costumes of Lilac Time produced at the Gaiety by the Rathmines and Rathgar Musical Society last month were some of the loveliest seen in Dublin for a long time. They were the work of Ernest O’Rourke-Glynn, character actor, scene designer and theatrical customaire. Mr. O’Rourke-Glynn comes of a very old theatrical family, his grandfather being Nicholas O’Rourke-Glynn who presented the brilliant violinist Irene Vanburgh to Ireland in 1868 when he opened his first professional company. His father Nicholas O’Rourke-Glynn Jnr. was a writer, actor and producer”.

Ernest O’Rourke-Glynn advertised his scenic studios and theatrical costumes from showrooms and offices at 126 St. Stephen’s Green West, Dublin in the early 1940’s, with his works and stores at Duke Street, Athy. He built and painted scenery to order, and had costumes on hire for all plays, pantomimes and grand operas. A typed note found amongst the papers showed that canvass back drops of a kitchen scene, a prison cell, a library, a palace hall, a landscape or a seascape could be purchased from O’Rourke-Glynn’s stock at £5.5.0 for the standard 12ft. by 9ft. stage size.

Shutting Pasley’s attaché case was like closing a book on theatrical life of 60 years ago. Jonathan Pasley and Ernest O’Rourke-Glynn are now long gone to their reward, but someone out there will remember their Cine Variety Company which toured the midlands before the start of the Second World War.

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