7.6/10
3,973
38 user 16 critic

Song for a Raggy Boy (2003)

The true story of a single teacher's courage to stand up against an untouchable prefect's sadistic disciplinary regime and other abuse in a Catholic Reformatory and Industrial School in 1939 Ireland.

Director:

Aisling Walsh

Writers:

Aisling Walsh, Kevin Byron Murphy (as Kevin Byron-Murphy) | 1 more credit »
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14 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Aidan Quinn ... William Franklin
Iain Glen ... Brother John
Marc Warren ... Brother Mac
Dudley Sutton ... Brother Tom
Alan Devlin Alan Devlin ... Father Damian
Stuart Graham ... Brother Whelan
John Travers John Travers ... Liam Mercier 636
Chris Newman Chris Newman ... Patrick Delaney 743
Andrew Simpson ... Gerard Peters 458
Mark Butler Mark Butler ... Downey 913
Bernard Manning Bernard Manning ... Rogers 855
Samuel Bright Samuel Bright ... Ryan 126
Robert Sheehan ... O Reilly 58
Caoimhin 'Tojo' Barra Doherty Caoimhin 'Tojo' Barra Doherty ... Murphy 338
Michael McGee Michael McGee ... Lynch 76
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Storyline

In 1939 William Franklin, an anti-Franco veteran of the bloody Spanish Civil War, arrives as first-ever lay teacher in a strict Catholic Reformatory and Industrial School for wayward boys. He soon learns the academic challenge is formidable, many boys being still illiterate, but gradually earns their trust, respect, in time almost devotion, with 'paternal' kindness, making the layman the opposite of the cruel prefect, brother John, who frequently administers painful and humiliating punishments, even the gentle, old superior Father Damian has no authority against his disciplinary mandate from the grim bishop Conlon. Slowly even class rebel Liam Mercier is turned around, trough his gift for literature. After Franklin dares stop the sadist's penny-weighted strap severely striking 'sinful scum' for a futility, the whole dorm is treated to an icy night outdoors, arms outstretched wearing only shorts. Brother Mac's mind may mean to educate well, his flesh is too weak for celibacy, so the ... Written by KGF Vissers

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Taglines:

Four walls. One faith. No identity. See more »

Genres:

Drama | History

Certificate:

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Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut of Robert Sheehan. See more »

Quotes

William Franklin: Tell me about the books you have read.
Liam Mercier 636: I robbed most of them.
William Franklin: Did you ever read a book you didn't rob?
Liam Mercier 636: Yea.
William Franklin: You mean yes.
Liam Mercier 636: I mean aye.
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Connections

Featured in Song for a Raggy Boy: Behind the Scenes (2003) See more »

User Reviews

A neatly packaged if somewhat overtly concise perspective on Irish Industrial schools
24 March 2006 | by PeterJordanSee all my reviews

I'd been skirting past this one in the video shop for ages wondering whether it was gonna be too depressing and harrowingly sad to sit through.

And before continuing I have to say I love the Irish characters that Aidan Quinn has created from Playboys, thru This is My father and Harry Boland in Michael Collins - all characters you can empathize with and truly feel their pain, largely, it must be said, because of the projection of Quinns acting.

The only Irish "reform school" I've ever visited is the building that used to house Letterfrack Industrial School in Co Galway, now (somewhat ironically considering some of the scenes in SFaRB) a fine arts furniture college. But to say that the building is still haunted by the ghosts of the boys and the pain and abuse inflicted there is an understatement. It literally oozes and sweats from the very walls of the former institution, defying every admirable attempt by the current education guardians to drag it into the present and positively project its glorious current use.

And so, whilst what is effectively a "year in the life" of this particular unidentified industrial school, does manage to capture in a nutshell much of this pain, and instill in the audience a huge anger at what was perpetuated in these places in both the name of reform and religion, somewhere in the back of ones mind there is a discomfort that it's all being just a bit too neatly packaged, summarized and concluded for the benefit of Hollywood and the happy ending with a massive nod to Dead Poets Society when in reality, as still continues to be daily documented in the Irish courts and tribunals of Inquiry and media reports into such abuse, this was not and sadly never would be something that one brave and progressive teacher might have hope to take on and buck the system - As the tragic caption at the end points out, this system of education and authority with all it's abuses persisted in Ireland right up to 1984 and along it way produced such brilliant and brave people Don Baker, Paddy Doyle (The God Squad), Colm O'Gorman and Mannix Flynn but equally claimed as victims such brilliant and capable people as Noel Browne, and probably most tragically, the graveyard and unmarked graves behind Letterfrack college bears testament to the many many young boys that shed their very lives to these institutions - So to try to imply (for whatever feel good factor and positive connotations it gains) that one man may have successfully stood up to this system during the first year of the "Emergency" in 1939/40 and everything was hunky Dorey after that and the authorities and the church sat up and took notice, is just too syrupy of a picture and a quick fix solution when one is sadly aware that the tragic reality is far removed and some 50 odd years away from that - and whilst it was admittedly a very good picture, this simplistic portrayal of a huge and continuing Irish problem, served to tarnish rather than endow the film as a whole.


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Details

Country:

Ireland | UK | Denmark | Spain

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 August 2003 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

Song for a Raggy Boy See more »

Filming Locations:

Ballyvourney, Co. Cork, Ireland See more »

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Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$783,544
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color
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