Just for the record, I hate fairy tales - unless they are written by Brothers Grimm. Saccharine happy endings drive me insane - unless the ogre eats the princess. So it shouldn't surprise you that I grasped at a chance to write an anti-Cinderella story set in Ireland. On one hand, we have all the ingredients of a timeless classic: the spunky idealistic orphan girl (Helena Molony), indifferent older siblings (Frank Molony and his wife) a cruel stepmother (who is mentioned in passing), a fairy godmother (Maud Gonne), and even a Prince Charming (Bulmer Hobson). Irish history doesn't follow the happily-ever-after protocol. Cinderella and Prince Charming start off on their noble quest to free Ireland from the Wicked King George, but about half-way through the journey they have a disagreement and end up on the opposite sides of the barricade. Cinderella runs off with a mentally unstable married troubadour (Sean Connolly), and Prince Charming is branded a traitor and banished from the kingdom.
|Daughters of Erin|
|Bulmer as a teenager with Herbert Hughes|
One of the most frustrating things is the lack of photographic documents featuring the heroine. Most of Helena's photos from her acting days had perished in a fire at the Abbey Threatre. I would have given anything to see a few photos of her in costume, in character. There are a few group photos where she poses with various nationalistic and labor-focused organizations. I've heard from certain sources that Helena was compared unfavorably to the woman her Prince Charming (Bulmer Hobson) ended up marrying.
|Dinny McCullough (cut in half) and 3 Royal Irish Constabulary men|
The consensus is that Helena did not "keep well". She ended up a prematurely aged, mentally disturbed alcoholic. To be fair, Bulmer's wife Claire did not end up in a much better place. Their marriage fell apart, and she became this 50-year old party girl at a bar. Through a mixture of cunning and diplomacy, I was able to procure a few photos of Claire Hobson. One of them came from the archives of the British National Library. It cost me $300 to get a copy of it, but it was money well spent. To my delight I found some physical resemblance between Claire and myself. Given that Claire was not a revolutionary figure, there is even less information available about her, and her descendants guard her mystery with vigilance. From what I've heard, they are not very keen on sharing personal information about her, which, understandably, inflames my curiosity even further. My sixth sense tells me that Claire had her own "broken Cinderella" story and she had her own demons, though she battled them more discretely than her predecessor, Helena Molony.
|Irish Womens' Workers Union|
Marina J Neary