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The General


Hollyfield was a Dublin slum where the rejected, the derelict and the anti-social were housed, a garbage heap of humanity. Martin Cahill grew up in a milieu where crime was the main occupation. Sent to a correction school when caught stealing food for his fatherless family, abused by priests and police, he grew up with a deep-seated resentment of all authority. Throughout his life he derived a deep satisfaction from making fools out of the police, the church, the establishment and devised a series of elaborate pranks to embarrass them.

He organised a number of daring and carefully planned robberies, gaining the sobriquet, The General. Hollyfield was a no-go area for the police and the fierce loyalties of it's inhabitants protected Cahill. He lived outside the system easily eluding the law.

He overreached himself when he and his gang stole paintings from Russborough House including the only Vemeer in private ownership. With public and political pressure mounting, the police instigated a surveillance operation headed by Ned Kenny, a man who admired Cahill but was determined to break him. Cahill and his men were trailed night and day. Even so, he continued to defy and elude them. Despite suffering from diabetes and the enormous strain, they could not break him. He regarded the IRA as just another aspect of the authority and he defied them as he did all others. Lacking the forbearance of the police, the IRA shot him dead in the street on the eve of the 1994 cease-fire.

His potent mix of violence and humour and generosity made him a legend in his lifetime.


Type of film
John Boorman
Gunther Falkenthal, Kieran Corrigan
Principal Cast
Brendan Gleeson, Jon Voight and Adrian Dunbar
Screen Writer
John Boorman


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Last updated 26th November 2005


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