Song Playing:

In Fermoy, Ireland



Céad Mile Fáilte - A Hundred Thousand Welcomes

Filming of the Blue Max over Fermoy

Flying over the Viaduct

Flying under the viaduct?

View of the viaduct from the air

View of the viaduct in 2003
Paudie McGrath's Memories

My own memories and reflections of the filming in Fermoy in October 1965 are, watching the beautiful sight each day of upwards to nine aircraft flying over the town of Fermoy. Flying towards the Viaduct which spans the River Blackwater east of the town.

The sight of watching the aircraft swoop from the sky and make their final approach in preparation for the flight under the Viaduct, then turning right and climbing over the Castle. Followed by the aerial photography crew in the Helicopter, that was the first time I had ever seen a Helicopter.

The generosity of the film catering crew who fed me each and every day during the filming of the scenes. That was also the first time I tasted a hamburger in a bun. I can assure you that a hungry 14 year old can devour quiet a few hamburgers. Sitting near the Viaduct on the Banks of the Blackwater last autumn, it was easy to visualise to days of nearly forty years ago.

The Blue Max is highly unusual amongst Hollywood films. Not just for being a large scale drama set during the generally overlooked World War 1, but in concentrating on air combat as seen entirely from the German point of view.

The story focuses on a lower class Officer, Bruno Stachel (George Peppard) and his obsessive quest to win a Blue Max, a medal awarded for shooting down 20 enemy aircraft, and the most prized German military aviation medal.

The Blue Max movie has an historical accuracy that is rarely seen, let alone truly noticed, in a war movie, and there is something about those World War 1 bi-planes and tri-planes that capture the imagination. The way they move in the air, that makes the metaphor of knights of the air more potent. The metaphor also matters because of the idea of chivalry that Stachel rejects throughout the film.

The film contains some of the finest aerial photography and imagery of World War 1 fighting planes that you're ever likely to see. Whether engaged in dogfights or just swooping amongst the clouds or down over the green fields of France (actually Ireland), the planes are photographed with skill and artistry by Aerial Photographer Skeet's Kelly.

One of the film's most spectacular sequences is a reconstruction of a Somme battle. Director Guillermin chose about 230 acres of County Wicklow at a spot called Kilpedder, six miles from Ardmore Studios. The Irish Army supplied 1,200 officers and men to take part in this fantastically real battle. Explosives experts were called in. To obtain the right effect they used something like seven tons of explosives each day.

The Blue Max was released by "Fox Home Entertainment" The release date for the Film was 21st.June 1966.

The year that the scenes were filmed in Fermoy was October 1965.

©   Paudie McGrath Cork Ireland 2003 -
Web Design: Linda Taylor Wollongong NSW Australia

Céad Mile Fáilte !
A Hundred Thousand Welcomes