OT: Ireland 104 – Film

Irish Week continues and has surreptitiously seeped into my private life shoes.

That is meant to be green nail varnish...

That is meant to be green nail varnish…

Let’s stay with the visuals for a moment, if you don’t mind. No, not my feet *ugh*. But you might like to see some more of Connemara, and guess what – that’s not very difficult. Because Pilgrimage is certainly not the first production to have discovered the beauty of Connemara as a backdrop for a film. The film industry in general has been pretty good in Ireland. Due to some very generous tax incentives, Ireland managed to attract a number of productions to Ireland, particularly in the 1990s and 2000s, even when the plots were not even set in Ireland. Braveheart (1995) is one such example, entirely filmed here, but set in Scotland. Bits and pieces of Ireland turn up in quite a few films – particularly the stunning Cliffs of Moher on the West coast of Ireland (slightly further South from Connemara), which feature in The Princess Bride (hello FrauvonElmDings!) and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. And yes, Mr Armitage’s turn as Ricky Deeming in the George Gently series, was also filmed here, albeit on the East coast of Ireland, near Dublin.

But back to Connemara. I’d like to give you a few suggestions for further cinematographic exploration of the area. The spectacular scenery of Connemara, was first used in the 1950s for the eternal classic The Quiet Man by John Ford, featuring John Wayne. Thankfully, the Oscar-winning film was shot in colour, so the beauty of the landscape can be seen in all its glory. The film is still being exploited for the sake of tourism – it’s quite present here. You can find it full-length on Youtube, but I would rather like to show you a clip from the evening TV news of the Irish state broadcaster. This says so much about Ireland, in just 4 minutes…

Yes, the word “parochial” comes to mind *ggg*.

On to more recent outings of Connemara in film. The home-grown and critically acclaimed adaptation from a John B. Keane drama, The Field, is a must-see. It was a resounding success, both in Ireland and outside. No wonder, the lead is played by Irish hellraiser Richard Harris, a character larger than life. Or *possibly* more interesting to you for a fresh-faced Sean Bean as the son to Harris’s father? Don’t be discouraged by the diddly-eye music in the trailer. It is a look at Irish history, contained in the bidding war for the eponymous field, and a look at the harsh realities of life in historic Ireland.

Similarly harrowing was 1996 film Into the West, the story of two Traveller children, living in the “slums” of Dublin (yes, they existed), searching for their own paradise. Which, incidentally, is portrayed by Connemara. Addressing issues such as the discrimination of the travelling community, as well as alcoholism and child neglect, the film is nonetheless very funny in parts. Again, a critical success, and with Gabriel Byrne to boot.

Did you know that the legend of Tristan and Isolde is played out in Ireland? All too fitting then, that the glitzy 2006 film adaptation was made in Connemara. Apart from multi-talented James Franco in the title role, and Rufus Sewell in support, you’ll recognize Isolde as RA’s former Spooks cast-mate Sophia Myles. Quite a few beautiful Connemara glimpses in the trailer:

So much for Connemara on film. If you want to watch contemporary Irish drama on film, stay away from stage-Irish, twee comedies such as Waking Ned Devine. They may be funny, but quite honestly, it’s a bit insulting to see all those Irish stereotypes, from brogue to thatched cottages. Even international success PS. I love you (written by our former Prime Minister’s daughter, for feck’s sake) doesn’t properly steer away from the pastiche happy-go-lucky leprechaun Irish male. Hmph. Irish films which I have really enjoyed in the past few years are Parked with Colm Meany (Star Trek) and Colin Morgan (Merlin), the tragic story of two drop-outs who connect, and Garage, the heartbreaking tale of a mentally disabled, but harmless guy whose mistake leads to tragedy.

PS: Still wondering what Irish topic Mr Armitage has on the back-burner for a future film project in this country??? Come on, RA, give us a clue!!! And please, while you are here, could you please give a few interviews to Irish media? Or is no one asking? Hell, *I* will interview you, if no one wants to speak to you. No mimicking the Irish accent, though!

 ETA: PPS: Forgot to add this: If you want more info on Connemara film sets, there is a great pdf by Discover Ireland on the Connemara Film Trail here.

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15 thoughts on “OT: Ireland 104 – Film

  1. I’ve seen two of these films, will have to chase up Into the West, and I need to watch Tristan and Isolde again, now that I know it was filmed in Connemara. One of my favourite movies set in Ireland is Evelyn, with Pierce Brosnan, and I’ll always remember beautiful Inch Beach, in Co Kerry, which was featured in Ryan’s Daughter – another one I will have to rewatch now that I’ve visited the film location. 🙂

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    • Into the West is so well-worth seeing. A gem, even if clearly a product of the 1990s. The end is very suspenseful, if I remember correctly.
      Evelyn – have heard of that. And Ryan’s Daughter – really good film, I have been on that beach, too, and it is fabulous.

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  2. So beautiful, Ireland is back on my list of holiday destinations! Somehow it disappeared from that list (sorry :-)), but after seeing the vids I corrected this mistake.
    Can you promise some fine weather? We get enough rain on the other side of the Irish and North Sea.
    I’m looking forward to 105!

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    • Glad to hear that you might make it back to Ireland, Emma. Weatherwise I can promise you this: It rains often in Ireland, but never long! Rain comes down in heavy showers, but they are almost like a cleansing downpour, and afterwards the sun bursts through the clouds and it is bright as if nothing ever happened. Only the puddles on the road tell a different story… Best weather is in the months of May and September, btw.

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  3. I have seen most of those films and Ireland is certainly photogenic, like your toes. I am determined to visit Ireland one of these years, and I intend to see you while I am there. You might make it to California before I make it to Dublin, but you never know. I could turn up on your doorstep at any time. That sounds a bit stalkerish, doesn’t it?

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    • *giggles* Well, I shouldn’t say this, but I take it as a compliment, actually. (NOTE: Not condoning stalking in any other context than applied to me *ggg*) and I should very much hope so that you would make a point of visiting me!!! The shrine fairy needs to see where here support ends up.
      Re. toes: Today marks the beginning of summer in Ireland. It is about 10 degrees out there, but the sun is shining. My toes are covered in socks.

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  4. Heute habe ich endlich Zeit Deine Filmchen in Ruhe zu gucken. The Field kannte ich bisher überhaupt nicht. Sieht aber superspannend aus, mal sehen ob ich den noch irgendwo leihen kann. Und wer da in jungen Jahren alles mitspielt ❤ da kenne ich jemand der von einem jungen Sean Bean sehr begeistert wäre, Grüße in den badischen Süden!
    Als Kind habe ich bestimmt zuviel "Dubliners" gehört, mein Vater war mal großer Fan, bei jeder Musik, die nur irgendwie in die Richtung tendiert (und die wird in solchen Filmen ja gerne genommen) liege ich einfach wegschmelzend unterm Tisch, das hat sich wohl für ewig in meine Gehirnwindungen eingebrannt.
    Into the west – hah da sind sie ja wieder meine Connemara Ponys ❤ und gabriel Byrne, der hat auch echt was 🙂 und da spielen ja noch einige andere sehr bekannte Schauspieler/innen mit, Ellen Barkin kenneich aus einem sehr guten Thriller, also auch auf die Leihliste, falls möglich. Wieso habe ich das Gefühl, dass man bei dem Film eine Unmenge von Taschentüchern braucht?
    Ich glaube den Tristan & Isolde schreibe ich auchnoch mit drauf, ich mag alte Kostümschinken – dann sind wir komplett….
    Danke für die vielen Tips!
    Falls es je zu dem Interview kommt, gib bitte Bescheid, der Flug ist schon fast gebucht 🙂

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  5. I’ve seen a number of these films. The Quiet Man was, and maybe still is, shown on American TV on or around St. Patty’s day. My older brothers *loved* it.

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  6. It’s Dublin than Connemara, but one of my favorite Irish films is “The Commitments.” And speaking of Colm Meaney, “The Snapper” is also a wonderful film.
    I think “The Quiet Man” engages some of the clichés, but I dearly love it anyway.

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    • The Commitments is one of my favourite Dublin films, too. I first saw it when I was in Dublin in 1991, studying at University College. It was very “of the times” – the old Ireland, impoverished, high unemployment rate, rather shabby-chic… That has changed a lot since then. But the film is great, the music is fantastic, and the story is funny. The Snapper is from the same cycle of stories, the third in the trilogy is The Van with Colm Meany, too – have you seen it? My recent Dublin faves are “Once” and “Parked”, the latter with Colm Meany, too, and young Colin Morgan (Merlin) – a really, really good film. the bonus for me, of course, is spotting familiar places in these films.
      The Quiet Man – definitely clichéd, but somehow a classic 🙂

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  7. really nice and yes Ireland is extremely photogenic! Can’t believe Braveheart was filmed there ‘ggg’ The scenery is what i liked in that movie 🙂 I’ve seen the first 2 in your selection but not the last two, must see if i can grab the videos anywhere.
    Can’t believe i haven’t seen the Tristan one but pardon me, why do i get the feeling they have glamorised and kitschyfied the story? The landscape though is stunning as ever 🙂
    I like Thomas Brodie-Sangster as young Tristan 🙂 (really liked him recently in Wolf Hall)

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    • You didn’t know that Braveheart was filmed here? They have a whole film trail in Co Wicklow where you can follow all the locations, and they rebuilt Trim Castle for the film.
      Yep, that version of Tristan and Isolde looked pretty glam to me, too. Technicolor, all pretty people *ggg*.

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  8. oh by the way your lovely nails are spot on trend it seems, i was told green is THE colour this year 🙂 I used to wear red all summer, but since i live here there barely is enough time in the year to wear no socks to make it worth and with socks it just rubs off, grrr.. I love your flip flops 🙂 look comfy!

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    • Oh, is it? Here is the truth: I got that nail varnish as a freebie last year at my favourite music festival. I usually wear Chanel’s Rouge Noir on my toe nails, but this time ’round it felt as if I needed something new.
      The flipflops are really comfy indeed. I bought them in Wanaka, NZ, when my beloved fitflops finally broke.

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