Location Nation: A Regional Irish Cinema, Part 3: And the Rest (plus a Conclusion)

by Elaine Lennon Volume 27 Issue 11-12/Volume 28 Issue 1 / January 2024 51 minutes (12575 words)

Redemption of a Rogue (photo source Pale Rebel Productions)


Redemption of a Rogue (2021)

Cavan is one of the border counties within the Republic and previously served as  the location and setting for two films written by Redhills native, novelist, playwright and screenwriter Shane Connaughton, The Playboys (Gillies MacKinnon, 1990) and The Run of the Country (Peter Yates, 1994) which was adapted by the author from his own book.

Aka Redemption of a Rogue: A Blues Opera. There's a level of consistency around here when it comes to the measurement of a rope. It depends on the thickness. After seven years away, disgraced Jimmy Cullen (Aaron Monaghan) returns to his home town of Ballylough in rainy County Cavan (the saddest town in the whole world) to see his bullying father Jimmy Sr (Hugh O'Brien) before he dies. He also wishes to redeem himself and then commit suicide by hanging. He gets a length of rope from the local ironmonger (Shane Connaughton) but he accidentally kills his father. As Jimmy's father draws his last breath, it suddenly starts to rain and thunder. When they are carrying the coffin out the front door of their home, Jimmy and his brother Damien (Kieran Roche), with whom he has a fractious relationship, are told by the family Solicitor that there is a clause in his father's will stipulating that he cannot be buried on a wet day. Otherwise his sons will be disinherited with the money going to the local gun club. After the funeral, it rains non-stop so Jimmy Senior's funeral is put on the backburner. He starts flirting with a local singer and drug dealer, Eastern European Masha (Aisling O'Mara) after he's told by former girlfriend Patricia Smith (Liz Fitzgibbon), Fuck off from around this house and never ever come back. Everyone in town wants him dead and they all have good reason. Maybe this storm is manmade. The rain continues for forty days and nights, long enough for Jimmy to revisit his past as his present bearded self but then the children start turning into zombies when the rain doesn't stop ...

I've been fantasising about doing that for years. Populated with some of his regular Gonzo Theatre ensemble, this jet black comedy from Philip Doherty hits all the pulse marks of rural Ireland, from the return of the prodigal son and the homosocial world of GAA football to the boarded-up small town shopfronts, male violence, religion, inheritance and a funeral. Along the way is a bunch of quirky locals including the young kids who find Jimmy making his first attempt at a noose and stare him out of it. What kind of a crooked hoor would put his own father in a freezer)? asks comedian Kevin McGahern of the returning Jimmy. With its Biblical-style downpours, Old and New Testament references and Child of Prague statues, Robbie Perry's twangy blues score commenting on the unsettling drama and a sense of deep-seated personal oppression, this slice of irreverent absurdism looks and sounds for all the world like a Nick Cave redemption song come to life. There is no mistaking the significance of the specificity of the location:

It is rare and perhaps unexpected that the opening credit for a feature film would refer to Cavan County Council, or indeed any county council in Ireland. Rarer still is that the film concerned goes on to receive two major awards – Best Irish First Feature and Best Irish Film – at its world première, held during the Galway Film Fleadh. Yet in every respectRedemption of a Rogue  is a remarkable film that captures and celebrates its place of origin in a manner rarely encountered in Irish cinema. Through its characters, diction, locations and surreal narrative, Cavan native Philip Doherty’s debut production renders the Breffni county as never encountered before in the cinema yet nonetheless strangely and engagingly familiar to those of us from that part of the world. (Crosson, 2020: unpaginated)

Doherty explained how the story originated to Geek Ireland :

“The film is very personal to me. It's a world I grew up in, in Cavan, filled with these larger than life eccentric characters with this dark, sardonic, troll wit that's always there, ready to take a bit out of you.

So I grew up with all of that around me; grew up with the GAA ruling the community with an iron fist, and my mother is very religious, a lot of religious figurines around the house, so I was always exposed to that supernatural element. As a child it was always so magical so that was always there, I think. 

The story itself, I had this idea for years and it just wouldn't leave me. When I was in my 20s I did a lot of travelling and backpacking, trying to escape the place you grew up in, but I always returned home, penniless with this guilt riding on my shoulders over all that happened, and arriving home and that feeling of being stuck. So I had this idea of this prodigal son returning home and he has just one day to live and he uses that last day to settle old scores and to face up to the sins of his past. So all those things were in a spin cycle together.” (Fahy, 2022: unpaginated)

As Crosson emphasises,

Seldom has small town and rural Irish life been rendered as convincingly or as engagingly on film. From the centrality of the local GAA club, to family conflict, religion and local communal tensions, many of the themes Doherty explores have featured in Irish film before. However, Doherty engages with all of these issues with innovative and sometimes hilarious black humour. (Crosson, as before)

Doherty and the (ironically monikered) leading actor grew up together. Monaghan elaborates:

“I'd been wanting to go home for so long, Philip had collected this amazing collection of artists for years and the art scene had exploded and he was pivotal in that and I waited so long to be a part of it, but my work was taking me elsewhere. It was incredible to go back there and have it be funded by Cavan Co Council, which was really important to me too. The arts office there have been very good to me so it felt amazing to go back there. I really wanted to go back to Cavan and make this film and it was a real ... it changed me and it was a really important moment getting to do that.” 

It was the context of the plot and the complex nature of his character Jimmy that cemented his desire to join the film.

“'It was just this amazing, manic depression that he has and there's something about the fact that he's lost faith in so many things,' he recalls. 'He's lost this idea of magical realism that we all grew up with and that's what pulls him back in. So it was the idea of going from someone who is manically depressed to being redeemed or saved in some ways.

“'But that journey is very slight; it's not like he suddenly becomes a happy, clappy character at the end, so it was also trying to maintain some sort of journey on a very small scale which was intriguing to me to see if it would be neither boring but entertaining and incredible.”      (Fahy, as before)

You only need one reason to live. The foreign-born Masha as a singer/slut/drug dealer offers a freewheeling alternative to life that Jimmy can't muster: I fuck who I want to fuck, declares this Moldovan Mary Magdalene. Monaghan gives a good account of the nihilistic protagonist who's stuck in this self-abnegating rut and it's fun to see him in flashbacks, basically as himself, with his beard and a cigarette hanging from his lips, as though time hasn’t passed at all. And there is the pleasure of seeing local novelists Connaughton and (Neil Jordan collaborator) Pat McCabe line out in a cast that exults in the operatic approach to action as buskers provide commentary like a Greek chorus while a statue of the Virgin Mary demands a cigarette. I can't be a father. I can't be one of them. Reconciling Jimmy’s sins with his present-day consciousness and the implications of the supposedly cleansing power of water and consequent zombifying of the town’s children might overegg the pudding perhaps but this has a wild energy that propels the absurdist engine. Made with the participation of Cavan County Council and Screen Ireland with funding supplied by Creative Ireland 2019 this visually arresting production was lovingly shot around the county town of Cavan and the west Cavan towns of Swanlinbar and Bawnboy by first-time feature cinematographer Burschi Wojnar. There are stylistic nods to the films of David Lynch and the Coen Brothers in the  mix while a lake offers Jimmy spiritual salvation in the manner we have come to expect of rural Irish cinema. Perhaps what is remarkable is not only the stubbornly accepted presence of religion but the oppositional nature of its practitioners and ultimately the refusal to accept one’s supposedly predetermined future. The surrealist mode obtains in a narrative that ultimately provides restoration with an optimistic resolution that is quite unique for its male protagonist in this cycle of rural Irish films.   The past doesn't exist. I'm getting off this road


DannyBoy (2020)

Stop hiding behind your stutter. 1981, Lennonstown, Kildare, Ireland. Nervous stammering jobless nineteen-year old Daniel Buckley (Darragh Byrne) is hopeless with the ladies but older brother Rory (Jack Hickey) sings with New Wave band The Silent Bottles and they’re lining up for him in this small town. At home Daniel tries to keep things on an even keel for himself and younger sister Maeve (Helen Geoghegan), cooking up a storm every night while his eccentric wayward mother Kathleen (Clelia Murphy) becomes more unhinged following the disappearance of her husband two years previously. She’s obsessed with irritating next-door neighbour Faye (Fiona Condon) who’s constantly entertaining men and she herself entertains political ambitions on the local council as a candidate for Fianna Fáil. Daniel interviews for the job of ship inspector in his father’s old work place and after being spurned by waitress Carla (Alexandra Moloney) whom he desperately fancies, visits a speech therapist Wolkenski (Maurice Knightley) whose secretary Donna (Lucy Jones) sells him a car and gives him driving lessons. His life feels like it’s coming together and he sees a way of helping his family and losing his virginity but just when everything seems like it’s finally working out police arrive at the front door and the family’s old car is fished out of the local canal …

 A ship inspector must be vigilant. Adapted from his novel The Ship Inspector by director Ferdia MacAnna and co-writer Mary Duffin, this low budget trip down coming of age memory lane is endearing and agreeable if not cinematically impressive, hampered as it is by clear production limitations (shot coverage and lighting being the main issues). Set in Kildare and shot there (Naas, Kilcullen) and on location in Wicklow, we are essentially in Eighties suburbia and the soundtrack peppered with familiar songs including the director’s own John Wayne (frontman with Rocky De Valera and the Rhythm Kings back in the day) ransports us where the visuals don’t. MacAnna’s novel The Last of the High Kings was adapted for the screen in 1996 and one can see the themes of that urban middle class comedy replayed: awkward adolescents, an absent father in the familiar Oedipal way of things and a wacky mother – but in that production she was played by the brilliant Catherine O’Hara and it was skilfully helmed by David Keating and wonderfully written (by Keating and Gabriel Byrne).

We might remark on a curious recent phenomenon in television production in Ireland and the UK which has clear echoes in Irish film production in the past half-dozen years: the tendency towards nostalgia for a pre-digital age. Looking at the new BBC TV 1990s-set comedy drama, The Power of Parker, Tara Conlan writes

The Power of Parker appears to be part of a trend for 80s and 90s shows, such as The Gold, also on BBC One; A Town Called Malice on Sky; The Curse on Channel 4 and forthcoming reboots of Gladiators and Wheel of Fortune.

Parker’s creator, Paul Coleman, who co-wrote Peter Kay’s Car Share said people tended to crave nostalgia during hard times. “Times are tough at the minute with the cost of living crisis. Most things you look back nostalgically at you do with rose-tinted spectacles … you remember the good times – there’s a bit of that going on,” he said. (Conlan, 2023:  11)

There is some very uneven acting here, with TV soap star Murphy in particular overacting terribly with nobody to rein her in from her excesses but the younger members of the cast (particularly the female cohort) acquit themselves well despite occasional shortcomings in the writing and jokes that when repeated still fall terribly flat. When Danny dresses up New Romantic-style and brings a ghetto blaster to woo Donna outside her house we know someone is paying tribute to Say Anything (Cameron Crowe, 1989) but it’s defused by making it a community montage. The stuttering is not just in our awkward protagonist in this threadbare if heartfelt production.

MacAnna gives his teenage protagonist a speech impediment which serves as a general metaphor and impetus for him to get out of a rut – familial, social, sexual – in a coming of age tale that takes place on the edge of a big rural town in Eighties suburbia. It’s also an apt difficulty for a film which has a degree of gaucheness in its styling – a lack of cinematic fluency which easily reveals the low budget but also celebrates the community effort it clearly took to make it. It’s threadbare but heartfelt, leaving its learner driver protagonist and his new girlfriend at a T junction, wondering which direction to take. This is billed elsewhere as Sing Street meets Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and it’s not that but it is fitfully amusing and it means well: Some things are meant to be and some aren’t.


An Cailin Ciúin/The Quiet Girl (2022)

Wexford has most recently been the setting at least in part for an adaptation of acclaimed Enniscorthy-born novelist Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn (2015) a sentimental  emigration story that according to author Sheila O’Flanagan, had it been written by a woman would have been dismissed as chicklit (we do not disagree).  Previously Curracloe Beach hosted Steven Spielberg as a location for that devastating open half hour of Saving Private Ryan (1996). Most recently however, the Gaeltacht (‘Irish speaking’) area provided the backdrop to An Cailin Ciúin/The Quiet Girl, an adaptation of Claire Keegan’s novella Foster by writer and director Colm Bairéad. Actor Cillian Murphy, who plays Bill Furlong in a forthcoming adaptation of Keegan’s 1985-set Small Things Like These describes his approach to a role in reference to Keegan’s writing style:

“I’m always trying to cut lines in scenes, because I feel like you can transmit it. Like when you see a person on a train thinking, or driving a car and you are purely observing someone and feeling the energy that is vibrating from them. That’s the sort of acting I love. In a lot of film and television, they want to cut those bits to go to the action. I like films that pose the big questions and then leave it to the audience.”  (Edwardes, 2023: 13)

The author’s work, characterized by unshowy brevity and inference is described by one commentator as “that sorcerer Claire Keegan’s devastating stories” (Mangan, 2023: 33).

Which one is she. Rural Ireland, Summer 1981. Nine-year-old Cáit (Catherine Clinch) is one of many children, living with her impoverished and neglectful parents in the southeast. Cáit's mother (Kate Ni Chanaonaigh) is pregnant again and is fed up of her daughter whom they call The Wanderer for constantly running out of the school where she is bullied., Her parents decide to send their quiet daughter away to live with the mother's middle-aged distant cousin Eibhlín Cinnsealach (Carrie Crowley) and her husband Seán (Andrew Bennett). Her feckless drunken father (Michael Patric) drives her to the farm on the east coast and the contrast with her own dysfunctional household is obvious. Eibhlín immediately welcomes Cáit into the Cinnsealach home, a well-appointed but old-fashioned farmhouse. Cáit has no luggage because her father drove home with it. Eibhlín places her in a spare bedroom and initially dresses her with boys' clothes left in the wardrobe. Eibhlin shows the child love, brushing her hair, talking to her,and teaching her how to do chores around the house and outside on the farm. She also shows Cáit a freshwater well on the property, claiming that the water has healing powers but warns her that the well is deep and to be very careful if she is ever retrieving water. She later buys Cáit new girls' clothes but only on Sean's insistence, apparently unwilling to leave the house. Seán, on the other hand, is withdrawn and initially acts coldly towards this supposed foster daughter. One day when Eibhlín is away, Cáit accompanies Seán to the far side of the farm where he cleanings the cow sheds. While he is occupied, Cáit wanders off. Once Seán notices that she's gone he panics and searches for her all over the property. After locating her, he scolds her and orders her to never wander off again. Frightened by this sudden bout of anger, Cáit runs back to the house. Seán eventually expresses remorse and begins to make a real effort to bond with Cáit. She slowly opens up to her foster father and the two become much closer, with a quiet way of communicating with each other. When they attend a neighbour's wake, Cáit's first, she becomes restless. Eibhlín and Seán comfort their friends. A gossipy neighbour (Joan Sheehy) offers to look after her for a couple of hours. Eibhlín hesitates but agrees. While the woman and Cáit walk together to the woman's house, the woman reveals that the Cinnsealachs had a young son who drowned in the family slurry pit years before Cáit's arrival and that they've obviously been making her wear the dead boy's clothes for the past month. When the Cinnsealachs collect Cáit from the woman's house, they notice the girl is withdrawn and ask what was said. Cáit tells them the truth, which quietly upsets them but they don’t deny the story. Several weeks into her stay, Cáit's mother has given birth and has requested for the Cinnsealachs to return Cáit in time for the start of the school year ...

Strange things happen sometimes. The most successful Irish-language feature to date, this adaptation of the novella by Claire Keegan tells its apparently simple story in masterful fashion. An air of fatalism hangs over it, with its beautiful framing, instinctive perspective of an unworldly, neglected yet sensitive little girl and its complete rebuttal of sentimentality. This is a child who might have taken too much or might be just clever enough to say as little as possible while observing the surrounding chaos and abuse. Many’s the person missed the opportunity to say nothing.  Delicately played, this hides a reservoir of feeling in every gesture and scene. They say misery loves company but it is in the home of people who have truly loved their late son that this withdrawn and neglected child finds something akin to humanity. Little things matter. There is significance in every move, every word and details accumulate steadily. Casual carelessness or unintentional oversights can have tragic outcomes as the foster parents sadly know. The contrasting behaviour, attitudes, actions and tells of the adults in the child's life reveal a chasm of morality and decency. Lyrical, compassionate and quietly devastating, this is wonderfully shot with every frame a painterly gem and the production design by Emma Lowney is pitch perfect. Written and directed by debut feature filmmaker Colm Bairéad who makes every silent still a camouflaged cry: Daddy

As Jason Solomons qualifies in his report on the 2023 Galway Film Fleadh, 

[The Banshees of ] Inisherin has unquestionably helped raise Irish cinema to the biggest global presence in its history. Normal People star Paul Mescal was another Irish Oscar nominee or Aftersun and let’s not forget the winning short film An Irish Goodbye.. But what is likely to turn out to be the most significant Irish film of its time is not Inisherin but The Quiet Girl (An Cailín Ciúin), a groundbreaking success that became the first film in the Irish language to ever be nominated in the International Film category.                                    (Solomons, as before)

An Cailin Ciúin/The Quiet Girl marks an extraordinary confluence of writing ambition and cinematic mastery, an unusual meeting of competence, control and inspiration making for an undeniable work of art. This is made by someone in full command of the language of film. One critic comments of the visual format:

The cinematographer Kate McCullough uses an emotionally forcing 4:3 ratio, the neat boxy frame forces the viewer’s attention. The Irish farm settings are prettily photographed, with the sweetness of sunlight filtering through leafy trees and the glory of green grass. This is a benign landscape, and if people behaved better it might be paradise.    (Hayes, March 2022: 13)

This subtle (and partly subtitled) Irish-language film exalts in the landscape to the extent that it is now experiencing a new iteration on Tiktok, as the RTE News website reported 20 July 2023:

Colm Bairéad's film based on Claire Keegan's book, Foster was beautifully shot, showing rural Ireland at its most beautiful, from green fields to dappled sunlight on bohareens. The cinematography, storytelling and perceptions of an Ireland we barely know anymore affected audiences deeply and for the first time, a film in Irish became a stunning must-watch film, rather than an Irish language film to be viewed by those who speak the language and ignored by those who don't.

An Cailín Ciúin moved those who saw it and just like Normal People before it, and as a contemporary marker of its success Tiktok users have begun taking some of the audio and using it as over stunning visuals of Ireland in the summer. The sound which has taken off is a remix of An Cailín Ciúin and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in which Seán is talking about trying to see the best in people.

Whilst it can be difficult to judge the long-term cultural impact of a piece of art, it is clear that An Cailín Ciúin has changed the game for those who create as Gaeilge.


Cine4, the production fund behind the film, grants 25,000 Euros to films in development monies before selecting two films annually for production funding up to 1.2 M Euros. The scheme is the brainchild of Alan Esslemont, the Director General of TG4, Ireland’s Irish-language TV channel, based in Galway. Journalist Katy Hayes describes the impact of the initiative:

A genre may be emerging, of tightly focused, emotionally fused dramas of character. In all these films, the spoken Irish feels real.                                                             (Hayes, May 2022: 13)

The source novella delineates place with exactitude:

But this is a different type of house. Here there is room, and time to think. There may even be money to spare.  Foster: 12

While set in Waterford the film wasn’t shot there. As the Discover Ireland website states,

The idyllic farm life and neighbouring woods in which Cáit comes out of her shell in the film were captured on location in the Royal County in Curraghtown, Garlow Cross, Clonymeath, Trim and Summerhill. While most of the film’s specific locations aren’t open to the public, visitors can head to Meath farms such as Causey Farm to experience beautiful environs and Meath hospitality.


This profoundly moving story is set in the 1980s, another instance of an Irish film finding truth of character and behaviour in social circumstances radically different to the present day. It is a perfect film adaptation and another literary instance of auteur -led production.


The Hole in the Ground (2019)

Long the home of Ardmore Studios which housed visiting international productions since its foundation in 1958, the fabled year of Ireland’s modernization, Wicklow is now the home of other studios since the phenomenal development of the state’s benefits to foreign filmmakers created a boom industry. Often funded by the Irish Film Board, working in conjunction with applicant local companies and availing of substantial tax rebates and write-offs complemented by a growing number of experienced Irish film technicians, this growth shows no signs of abating despite competing with the neighbouring facilities United Kingdom which received huge financing assistance under Conservative Chancellor George Osborne. Since the days of Francis Ford Coppola’s Dementia 13 (1963) which was partly shot at Ardmore, several recent horror films have availed of locations in the county including 2023’s rollicking comedy horror (set in Kentucky) Cocaine Bear (Elizabeth Banks, 2022) and 2019’s The Hole in the Ground (also made on location in Dublin and Kildare). This maternal folk horror is the culmination of a line of films which are coming to terms with Ireland’s horror writers, as Kim Newman explains:

After long refusing to embrace a literary heritage of horror that includes Bram Stoker, Sheridan Le Fanu, Oscar Wilde and a lot of unsettling folklore about ‘the little people’, the Irish film industry is finally latching onto horror cinema. For ages, the most important horror film made in Ireland was Francis Ford Coppola’s tyro slasher Dementia 13, but The Hole In The Ground comes out of a recent mini-boom of Irish creepiness (cf: Wake WoodThe LodgersThe Devil’s DoorwayDark Touch), rooted in primal forests haunted by old beliefs and gnarly vegetation … it’s even the second Irish haunted-sinkhole film of recent years (following Beyond the Woods). With all this activity, specific Irish horror sub-genres are emerging and - like The Hallow - The Hole In The Ground offers a dark reading of mythology that in the movies has tended to be jollied-up and overdosed with sparkly ‘Oirish’ cutes in the likes of Darby O’Gill and the Little People or even the faux-Irish Leprechaun series.    (Newman, 2019: unpaginated)

It's not your boy. Rural Ireland, the present day. Sarah O’Neill (Seána Kerslake) escapes her abusive husband and she and her shy arachnophobe son Christopher aka Chris (James Quinn Markey) in a move to the countryside. While driving to their new rental home, Sarah and Chris get into a car accident when she almost hits Noreen Brady (Kati Outinen) an old woman standing in the middle of the road. After they move into their new house, Sarah and Chris have an argument about Chris' father and Chris runs into the forest. Sarah follows Chris and finds him near an enormous sinkhole. At a dinner party with friends, Sarah's friends recount the tale that Noreen started to believe her son James was not her real son and is rumoured to have murdered him with a car. Later that night, Sarah awakens to sounds downstairs and finds Chris missing from his bedroom. Failing to find him, she calls the Gardaí (police), only to see Chris standing in the doorway of his bedroom. A doctor pays Sarah a housecall (clearly pre-COVID 19!) the next day and she is prescribed sedatives. He asks her about the scar on her forehead, covered by her fringe. She dismisses his concerns as an old injury which sometimes plays up. While driving Chris home from school, Sarah comes across Noreen in the centre of the road, blocking her way. Noreen attacks the car and screams that the boy is not Sarah's son. She bangs her head off the passenger window, leaving blood. Noreen's husband Des (James Cosmo) restrains her and Sarah drives away in shock. Later, Sarah visits the Bradys’ house and finds Noreen dead in the garden, her head buried in the mud. During the wake Sarah observes that all the mirrors in Noreen’s house are covered. Des explains to Sarah that Noreen believed their son James was an imposter; she claimed that she could tell this by looking at the boy's reflection in a mirror and that she had noticed small, insignificant changes that only a mother would know. Des also reveals that it was he who killed James in a car accident. Sarah begins to see strange changes in Chris, when he becomes more sociable, better spoken  and groomed and develops a fondness for Sarah's home cooking, which he previously loathed.  When Sarah confronts him about finding his toy soldier Chuck in the forest during a run, he grows enraged and pushes the dinner table in an unprecedented exhibition of strength. One night watching through the keyhole of his bedroom Sarah sees her supposedly arachnophobic son catching and eating a spider. During Chris's performance in the school talent show, Sarah becomes convinced the boy is not Chris and runs away in terror. She hides a camera in Chris' room in an effort to monitor his nighttime behaviour and later shows Des the footage. He is dismissive but at the same time fails to reassure her that the boy in the video is her son. Sarah mixes her prescribed sedatives into Chris' food and later confronts him about his identity when he fails to recognise their favourite game. The imposter Chris attacks Sarah, throwing her clear across the kitchen and knocking her unconscious. He buries Sarah's head in the ground but is knocked out by the sedatives soon after. Sarah slowly frees herself from her burial spot and drags the imposter to the house's basement, where she uses a mirror to reveal the imposter to be an inhuman creature. Sarah locks him in the basement and flees to the forest's sinkhole. She goes to the bottom of the sinkhole and after crawling through subterranean tunnels eventually finds Chris still alive among dozens of formless, faceless, eyeless creatures ...

 I just know he's not himself. Irish horror movies have been experiencing a moment for about, oh, two decades now. The low budget genre has given several directors (and writer/directors) an opportunity for striking debut films and Lee Cronin's first big screen supernatural outing is no different. Star Kerslake lends her considerable screen presence to a fairy tale story set up as a maternal nightmare situated on the edge of a gloomy forest, that traditional Germanic locus of dread where the trees will gobble you up. With her vivid features and pillowy lips she bears a passing resemblance to Shelley Duvall and with that spooky son, the isolated location and tracking through (admittedly short) hallways and corridors we are put into a Kubrickian mindset. Her growing paranoia and her son's increasing strangeness - becoming more and more conformist - are simply graphed and effectively conveyed. Shot in misleadingly comforting autumnal tones by Tom Comerford, this starts in a Hall of Mirrors at a funfair and Sarah and Chris leave the vicinity with the words Road To Hell looming large over them. The overhead shots of the car disappearing into the forest are revealed to be upside down and in this inversion of the world the title is revealed. With the move to the country, to an old house where Sarah has to scrape the wallpaper off the walls, her child becomes a changeling. This is the actual manifestation of every parent's fear – that their child is the spawn of the Devil.

With the clever use of drone photography, ingenious cutting and ellision (edited by Colin Campbell) and a wonderfully made soundtrack including dripping taps, a piano-led score by Stephen Rennicks and repetition of the weird traditional song, 'Weela Weela Walya' (a variation on  The Cruel Mother/The Greenwood Side) which emphasises this as folk horror (the complete song is performed over the end credits) this is the latest in a line of Irish films set in creepy primal forests. Part-funding by the Finnish Film Foundation presumably accounts for Outinen's casting - that lined face which we recognise from her numerous collaborations with Aki Kaurismäki (who was a regular and pleasing fixture at the old Dublin Film Festival) lends itself beautifully to the role of witch and harbinger: the mantilla which clads her visage in the open coffin bestows a kind of holy martyrdom upon her and introduces a religious element and in a weird way, a salve for unbearable tension. The screenplay by Cronin and Stephen Shields plugs into several horror tropes: doubling, possession, haunting, warnings, an old crone, a spooky child, and in this upside-down world in which we are literally plunged into the earth itself, the dirt comes to claim us all as eyeless faceless creatures crawl from a hellhole. It might be a metaphor for what happens when you move to the country, like a mythical Straw Dogs (Sam Peckinpah, 1971), another in the line of horrors that disprove the thesis that the countryside offers respite and restoration. It might even be a political allegory about how the Irish land destroys people in their obsession with territorial ownership and colonialism. One way or another this is subtly scary. It's not heritage cinema but it is heritage horror, perhaps Ireland's greatest contribution to the world. You’re not my son!

Together with Extra Ordinary, these 2019 horror films with their entirely antithetical approaches to genre mark a new maturity in a cinema enjoying its second wave. No longer talking to a local audience but a knowing horror crowd who giggle at the references and respond appropriately to the jump scares, they might be providing an alt-history take on contemporary Ireland.

Conclusion: The Lie of the Land  - A Certain Tendency of Irish Cinema

This survey of rural Irish cinema over the past half-dozen years is both ordnance and critical: what it reveals is not a conclusive or coherent commentary on contemporary Ireland but an answer to something that dominated op-eds, journalism and hours of conference time in the 1990s when the reactivating of the Irish Film Board, the introduction of Section 35 (now 481) tax-based financing and Academy Awards success led to the thorny question: what is an Irish film? In the third decade of the twenty-first century it is hard not to conclude it’s a film set in the 1990s. What could possibly have motivated this nostalgia? Helen Macdonald and Sin Blaché claim;

Nostalgia flourishes in societies after wars and times of social dislocation. Today, nostalgia has become a viciously effective way to guarantee instant emotional engagement across advertising, television, movies and social media.  (Macdonald and Blaché, 2023: 50)

Nostalgia, in its original incarnation as noted by Johannes Hofer had medical implications: the pain of soldiers longing for home deriving from the Greek words, nostos (return) and algos (pain).    That pain is everywhere in Irish rural cinema - it does not coalesce into a regional voice rather encompassing several disparate voices apparently seeking to arrive at the same destination: the past.

The complicating factor is the issue of Irish society itself which is as unstable in its representation as the films it has provoked. As one commentator notes in a recent thinkpiece concerning bias that includes observations on a Summer 2023 panel meeting by ARINS (Analysing and Researching Ireland North and South) with the title Nordies and Mexicans: Perceptions and Misperceptions of the Other, one participant stated

Irish identity is fragile, because the Irish state and its institutions are relatively new.”   (O’Connor, 17 September 2023: 16)

In the past twenty-five years Ireland has grappled with a single seismic change: a massively reconfigured demographic profile. The population at that time numbered just over 3.6 million. Since then Ireland has experienced unprecedented inward migration following an unusual coda to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement permitting anyone who wished to enter and reside in the Republic while border checks were removed. Fifteen years later the Army barracks in all border counties were decommissioned and repurposed. Government statistics claimed in June 2023 that over 2.1 million foreign-born now inhabit the Republic.  Question marks have long hung over the veracity of the official figures based on obvious visibility and overcrowding: in 2006 the Polish ambassador mocked that year’s Irish Census figures which claimed 68,000 of her countrymen lived in Ireland, suggesting that there were in fact minimum 330,000 i.e. an undercounting of foreign residents of almost 80% in just one of the 200+  nationalities and ethnic groups who have moved into the Republic. Meanwhile, young Irish people, particularly in rural areas, left the country at the rate of 2,000 per week in the wake of the economic crash, a pattern that continued for a decade. Current Justice Minister Helen McEntee recently declared her intention to introduce as a crime the thinking of hateful thoughts, issuing in deathless prose the dictum, “We all know what we mean,” as though that penetrating De Valera-style wisdom were the basis to jail people who deviate from some focus-grouped norm of tolerance. This astonishingly facile platitude is apparently the basis of forthcoming legislation despite the present Taoiseach’s [Prime Minister] admission that surveys had indicated the law had no basis in popular opinion (McEntee, 2023: 12). This proposal is an adjunct to the 2006 Incitement to Racial Hatred Act: the laws of the land have been ramped up to forbid discussion of the elephant in the room: the conscious repopulating of the country with non-natives. The virtual absence of explicit references to the contemporary sociopolitical situation in Irish films is notable precisely because  issues of Irish space and identity are rendered more problematic in a blitz of fond cinematic Nineties (and even Eighties and Twenties) nostalgia.

The irony of this dedicated production of misleading simulacra is that much film funding across local authorities particularly relating to the WRAP fund has the clear aim of attracting tourists. According to figures released in August 2023, the depletion of hotel beds due to occupancy by asylum seekers has seen a massive downturn in visitors to the country.  The County Mayo mecca of Westport reports a decimation in tourist numbers (The Sunday Times 6th August 2023: 3); while locals in the legendary matchmaking destination of Lisdoonvarna in County Clare are outnumbered by asylum seekers at a ratio of two to one, replicating the story nationwide. A former business proprietor is reported as saying “there was a sense locally that the town had been changed irrevocably since the arrival of refugees.” According to another businesswoman, “Many tourists are complaining because they want to come here and see how Irish people live. But when you go to the streets you hear just the Ukrainian or Russian language” (O’Donoghue, 2023: 6-7).

The tipping point of immigration has been reached following the arrival of close to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees following the Russian invasion of March 2022. Riots at asylum hotels regularly go unreported in mainstream Irish media, instead getting oxygen on the rightwing British TV channel GB News; while the phenomena of foreign-originating criminality, for instance the gangs of black criminals allegedly laying siege to residents of West Dublin, are restricted to social media. Recent reporting of the arrest of an Uzbeki money laundering surprised not due to their collective Irish citizenship but that they were arrested at all. The housing crisis (The Irish Daily Mail’s headline 01 September 2023 declared ‘Half a million adults living with parents’), schools overcrowding, the collapsing health system and the overwhelming foreign population are apparently mutually exclusive problems which form no place in a cohesive analysis of the country’s narrative by the press. The State broadcaster Radio Teilifís Éireann seems to have entered a mutually advantageous pact of omerta from Government to Government not to ask troubling questions of Ministers in exchange for favourable terms at annual Oireachtas (Assembly) Media Committees  - 2023 being the scandalous exception regarding concealed payments to a TV chat show presenter (scion of a prominent political family), now replaced in his role by a Northern Irish Catholic comedian as the station steadily pursues a Republican agenda in which Northern accents are normalized and distinctly local Northern Ireland news stories are placed on the main evening bulletins. Within the mainstream press there is a steady exodus of pliant journalists joining political parties as spin doctors. Few in the media are willing to speak truth to power and the false narratives about the decisions of the Irish political class are perpetuated unchallenged:

Ireland has changed. It is now open, inclusive, tolerant of difference and welcome to the outsider of all hues.  (Murphy, 2023: 15)

Diversity has bred division, however. In September 2023 the febrile state of the nation was exposed when public protests against immigrant numbers (among other issues) took place with the Government itself laid siege on their return to the Dáil (House of Representatives) following the Summer recess. This open protest against immigration was generally deemed a Far Right display yet, according to one account,

the overall message and demands of the protesters were not coherent across the day and it was not immediately clear what had united them … Across social media, organisers of the protest have used hashtags like #CallToTheDáil and #IrelandIsFull to spread their message and encourage people to take part. Some of the tweets appear to be innocuous. One image shared to X ahead of the protest invited people to take part at 10am on Wednesday. It read: ‘Now is the time to speak up for freedom of expression’. But others were attached to stronger messages, with one man writing ‘It’s time we put the government on the run’. Hashtags like ‘Ireland belongs to the Irish’ and ‘Protect Children’ were also commonly used alongside these hashtags and continue to be used alongside videos and photos of yesterday’s protest … On the day, a number of relatively well-known conspiracy theorists and far-right organisers were in attendance at the protest. (The Journal.ie, 2023: unpaginated)

According to another,

Virtually all of the protests occurring across Ireland and further afield have brought together anti-migrant positions with COVID conspiracy theories, anti-system or anti-government positions infused with elements of racial nationalism.     (Mooney, 2023: 5)

Rather amusingly, another journalist took issue with the mock gallows greeting the politicians and its implied threat: 

That Hillary Clinton quote about a “basket of deplorables” came to mind. This group succeeded in virtually locking up our national parliament and our democratically elected representatives within it … a full frontal assault on our house of parliament cannot be countenanced. … a different approach is needed. A security approach.                                   (O’Connor, 24 September 2023: 16)

The irony of that argument in a country without borders or sufficient defences for its people is apparently lost on the author. It would seem that the sleeping Celtic Tiger has awoken and the consensus of the mysterious comeallye policy has finally worn out its Céad Míle Fáilte among many Irish people and the press don’t like it. The full implications of a permanent resident foreign population have apparently dawned on a citizenry whose ramshackle infrastructural systems were already unfit for purpose twenty-five years ago. The cracks have appeared in the carapace of camouflaged cultural differences but it has taken all that time for the fissures to be fully revealed in open protest.

If the wider arts scene and journalism have been muzzled on the subject so too it appears that Irish cinema has failed to grasp the nettle of the Vichyesque situation in any direct way, exhibiting a lack of penetrating insight, bravery and only a little wit (Extra Ordinary) about what we might call the Second Plantation following the first, of Ulster, which proved somewhat problematic, historically speaking. It is only in the world of literature that something approaching a unified voice is emerging following transformative social change:

This has given its authors a shared history and compelling stories to tell. “We are in the middle of forming a collective psyche,” says [Michael] Magee.                                           (Hackett, 2023:  19)

While the population becomes ever more multi ethnic the filmmaking fraternity, region by region, makes work that is strikingly homogenous. In Julie Burchill’s scabrous words following the death of Sinéad O’Connor, she nods towards the wholesale hypocrisy that as ever characterizes the country’s brazen self-image:

Yet now Ireland stands as the most self-righteous among nations, reborn with a new church of transubstantiation, and groovy gay Taoiseach Varadkar can sob, ‘Her music was loved around the world and her talent was unmatched and beyond compare…rest her soul.’   (Burchill, 2023:  unpaginated)

The same Irish-Indian Taoiseach (leader/Prime Minister) has dedicated himself to the  purveying of a disturbing bear-baiting Putin-style threat of reunification with Northern Ireland, a useful electoral decoy to the problems which beset the Republic. His most recent taunts were acknowledged at the 11 September 2023  €1bn Peace Plus launch at Newforge Sports Complex in south Belfast  (which no Unionists attended) eliciting a typically understated and indulgent rebuke from the British Government’s current Northen Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris who merely described Leo Varadkar’s latest comments as ‘unhelpful’ (Elder, 2023: unpaginated). When in 2012 Gabriel Byrne resigned as an unpaid Irish cultural ambassador to the United States for the Imagine Ireland programme, apparently from embarrassment at the open attempts to separate wealthy Americans from their money, then Government Minister Varadkar simpered that it didn’t matter, as the actor only appealed to women of a certain age group (Barton, 2019: 30; 37). Unionists, Protestants, Northern Irish, British and actors alike are objects of the present Taoiseach’s scorn. The politics of an older generation are finding expression in Ireland via an unofficial Republican mouthpiece (who is leader of the Fine Gael [Family of the Irish] political party) making the ludicrous violence of The Banshees of Inisherin perfectly logical seen in the context of persistent bilious hypocrisy from the mouthpiece of the traditionally Pro-Treaty party.

“It is the duty of artists to spark discussions and create work that serves as a catharsis for pain and a catalyst for questions that need answering.” (Benjamin Zephaniah)

The best Irish rural films in the past half-dozen years have nodded to the recent past with a non-time specific kindness, setting stories in towns seemingly unmarked by change since the early 1990s while acknowledging the loss of territoriality in a rather grim buried humour and barbed versions of an inchoate yearning for a home that no longer exists. It’s reminiscent of the type of nostalgia that characterized an earlier era and it is one of the few uniting focal points amounting to a coherent idea emanating from this random survey of recent cinema. The lack of explicit acknowledgment says it all. Absence makes the past grow fonder: it’s as if the twenty-first century hadn’t happened. Irish rural cinema is a symphony of resigned alienation, an indirect expression of self-protective distancing years after the depleting of communities following the economic crash. The present is being pathologized out of existence while the past is an expression of a kind of illness, a literal longing for the intervening quarter century to not have occurred. The stories being told in rural Irish films are of flailing masculinity, fatalism, the supernatural, religion and spiritual recovery, land, space, parochialism, atavistic hauntings, identity, family, neglectful parenting and generational conflict, toxic homosocial and even monstrous environments, delayed adolescence, misogyny, violence, inheritance and death. They are twists on the same old stories. Nor do they suggest a collective unified narrative, rather a distillation, remediating and rearticulating of rhetoric already familiar in previous cycles. They are styled in a sophisticated palette of modes that for the most part unsentimentally deny contemporary reality, a stratagem that proves allusive if not entirely allegorical, reclaiming the cinematic landscape for the native population. They are small films which don’t always focus on the big picture. According to actor Cillian Murphy,

“The nation is actually dealing with an unresolved collective trauma. Who knows how long this will take to heal, but I feel strongly that art, film and literature can help with that process. It’s a kinder and gentler sort of therapy.”  (Edwardes, 2023: 13)

If Eat the Peach is the Ur-film of contemporary rural Irish cinema, it is apt to remind ourselves of the dominant political class that has emanated from the Irish Midlands.  2019 was a banner year for rural Irish horror film and the country’s actual body politic might be said to have been emblemized in the real year-long comatose condition of former Taoiseach Brian Cowen (fondly known by the acronym BIFFO – Big Ignorant F***er From Offaly) of the Fianna Fáil (‘Soldiers of Destiny’) party. It was he who took the catastrophic decision to bail out the banks in the financial crash and blamed it on the then Minister for Finance - who was dying from the cancer that killed him shortly thereafter. Ireland is now in hock to the International Monetary Fund for generations. Despite clear evidence of corporate criminality, malfeasance and Governmental irresponsibility nobody was gaoled: the State-owned banks have spent the intervening years persecuting homeowners while the Government has permitted the mass appropriation of property by foreign vulture funds. Cute hoorism, sleveenism and corruption have wrecked an independent Republic bowing to German and other extra-territorial paymasters. Cowen also introduced further legislation (copper-fastening the mysterious promise of the Good Friday Agreement) to open the borders, undermining the concept of a democratic state capable of policing its own territory. In the meantime, there is no military presence in the border counties now finding themselves on the edge of the European Union following BREXIT, another decision that has had disastrous implications for the Irish consumer with the collusion of EU-supplicant Irish Customs controls. Russian submarines have been monitoring transatlantic communications cables off the Kerry coast for at least a half dozen years and Russian ships wargamed off the Donegal coast in February 2022 immediately prior to the invasion of Ukraine; yet no filmmaker has pondered the superfluity of that country’s denizens in Ireland (we might recall that it took just 25,000 Russians to have the Crimea declared occupied in 2014); or the potential for a takeover in a country wholly reliant on the British Navy and the Royal Air Force for protection. With Ireland lately declared to be using just 3% of its own agricultural land to produce food due to its adherence to crippling EU policies it now seems to be a sitting duck for isolation, invasion – and starvation. If that isn’t material for a thriller, what is? Perhaps Sea Fever is the only film that will ever navigate this thorny prospect in the inimitably metaphorical manner of horror, with its West of Ireland mariners tackling that pesky parasite. Meanwhile, an island nation is literally defenceless.

A generation of filmmakers educated in world cinema, Hollywood screenwriting and genre appears to harken back to a thirty-year old reality with little true observation of the stunning social change wrought over the past quarter century with the tensions between Irish people and the foreign population everywhere in evidence in real life. The rural space is a locus of uncertainty with a lack of temporal specificity. If cinema offers a sociological reflection of a country’s status the current output of Irish rural cinema appears to be a site of unselfconscious sly misrecognition, unfolding at an ambient pace. To paraphrase Seán O’Faoláin, Will Irish rural filmmakers perish as regionalists? In those few films that have even mentioned the altering population, it is minimized: Arm remarks on Rob’s English accent (but not his mixed race origins) in Calm With Horses; the disturbed daughter Sarah in  Dark Lies the Island is played by an actress of  Eastern European origin; that young black woman camouflaged in a crow’s outfit in Joyride  might offer a startling comment  given the bird’s aforementioned role as the Morrigan in Irish mythology, a creature that stirs trouble and incites warriors to battle but she provides direction too, reuniting that film’s protagonists. In  Redemption of a Rogue we might say that the character of Masha while a benign and comic rescue fantasy for the leading man offers no reprieve to the general if anecdotal Irish perception of Eastern European women due to the abundance of brothels trafficking them in even the smallest Irish towns. Otherwise? Plus ça change. To an extent this is understandable in writers and directors making their film debuts; in more mature filmmakers it is either unforgivable or a career move. On the other hand, we might consider the aims of local film funders who sponsor script and production development – presumably they are not interested in exploring an unattractive if highly visible social problem. Similarly, a tourist organization could hardly justify putting money behind a film displaying the lived reality of Ireland today. When films are dependent on financial backing from State bodies it is inevitable that the output will come to resemble public relations. You might call this propaganda but we couldn’t possibly comment.

We return to the caustic introductory words of Catherine Ryan Howard, whose novel was inspired by the independent horror film Beyond the Woods (Seán Breathnach, 2016) (Howard, op.cit.: 437). Perhaps it is apposite that it is the horror genre which has come closest to expressing the politics of Ireland’s existential situation. The genre has long served as a means of saying the unsayable and presents the kind of recourse to fantasy and the macabre that characterized cinema in Spain under General Franco. Similarly, the arthouse/literary strand of Irish film writers and directors appears to  have  retreated to a kind of alternative history in an unresolved  pact with the governing forces whose ongoing legislative mission to refuse mention of the colonising project continues apace. This has had the effect of self-censorship - a familiar stratagem since Ireland became a Republic, preceding the country’s prostrate role in the EU. As the late Sinéad O’Connor (echoing Benjamin Zephaniah) once said, It is the artist’s job to start conversations but Irish filmmakers are staying schtum. The country has long been able to justify what have come to be known as Irish solutions to Irish problems and while a local issue might be raised in a fatalistic film like God’s Creatures, that is another Nineties-set story plainly arising out of the #MeToo present. Rural Irish stories are mostly personal and psychological, not overtly political. They refuse ideological positioning in a wide array of narrative approaches. The recent spate of rural Irish horror could be a spasmodic reaction to the moral vacuum created by the decline of Church influence or an honest attempt to reproduce long-suppressed folk memory, emerging from centuries underground and coding responses differently according to gender, producing a new field for the battle of the sexes. In these films, the Irish countryside is literally a gateway to Hell.

As Ireland has literally changed how it looks and sounds, its filmmakers are for the most part collectively painting a palatable picture about a country that in all but name ceased to exist circa 1998. The filmmaking may have improved aesthetically and technically and the industry has its international stars but there is a tendency to deal in overly familiar tropes in many cases. In the deathless prose of the Justice Minister, We all know what we mean. But do we? This cinematic rewrite gives no indication as to what prompted that wholesale crisis in tourism in Summer 2023. Frank Berry’s polemical drama Aisha (2022) interrogates the labyrinthine Irish asylum system with compassion for its Nigerian protagonist (Letitia Wright) whose story gradually unravels but suggests that the movement of refugees en masse to rural hotels works neither for them nor their hosts. Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone, working in a different European base, describes his shift in perspective in telling a story of migration from the point of view of the migrant in Io Capitano/Me, Captain(2023):

“Migration has many different reasons: to escape wars, the effects of climate change, living in absolute poverty,” says Garrone. “The subject of the film is another type of migration, which is connected to Africa’s demographic – 70% of sub-Saharan Africa is under the age of 30 – and globalisation.”

Starting his tale in the west African republic was in itself a potentially polemical choice. Senegal has only in recent years become a country where people migrate from rather than to, and the main driver for those leaving the country is economic insecurity rather than war or famine.  (Oltermann, 2023: 5)

In Berry’s film, Aisha has a story she doesn’t want to tell but the system ensures that her choice is taken from her in an exchange which demands a huge personal price. In an era beset by identity politics, Irish filmmakers (like all Irish artists) fear naming things or, more likely, take an imaginative approach to the issues arising from the alteration of the country’s demographics.  Despite some audacious films, Irish cinema now feels muzzled in the face of officially sanctioned oppression, unable to dramatise the shocked condition of ideological capture in which its population currently resides, fearful of projecting a future, destined to look fondly to the prelapsarian ideal prior to the opening of the borders, trading in old currency, inhabiting a time when the country finally seemed on the verge of becoming a  truly mature, free and safe state for native adults to be finally trusted to make their own decisions. Maeve Higgins refers in her essay to the concept of ‘repressed drama’:  that term encapsulates the character of recent Irish rural cinema with its wealth of homegrown talent largely avoiding the issue that predominates in Irish life. Despite boasting a cast of protagonists in trauma, Irish films and their backers are in a state of denial about the state of the country, unwilling to risk an unflattering depiction. Contemporary rural Irish cinema with its imagined unified community avoids a real-world meeting with a fragmenting society at all costs instead dramatizing its psychologically complicated characters with subtlety and empathy in a society barely disturbed by immigrants and when it is the interlopers are treated with humour. It’s a time machine offering a panorama of memories. We are minded to recall the advertising for the Wild Atlantic Way and its earnest promise of an encounter with the past. That encounter is guaranteed by new rural Irish films in a parallel universe where there is now a chasm between Irish people and the place they used to call home. The past is another country.

© Elaine Lennon 2023


Aisha (2022) w/d. Frank Berry

Ann (2022) w/d. Ciaran Creagh

The Artist & the Wall of Death (2022) w/d Maurice O’Brien (and Ross Whitaker)

Calm With Horses (2019) d. Nick Rowland,   w. Joe Murtagh (based on the story by Colin Barrett)

The Cellar (2022) w/d Brendan Muldowney

DannyBoy (2020) d. Ferdia MacAnna, w. Mary Duffin and Ferdia MacAnna

Dark Lies the Island (2019) d. Ian Fitzgibbon, w. Kevin Barry

Eat the Peach (1985) d. Peter Ormrod, w. Ormrod and John Kelleher (p)

End of Sentence (2019) d. Elfar Adalsteins, w. Michael Armbruster

Extra Ordinary (2020) w/d Mike Ahern & Enda Loughman; additional writing by Demian Fox & Maeve Higgins

God’s Creatures (2022) d. Saela Davis & Anna Rose Holmer, w. Shane Crowley from story by Shane Crowley & Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly

The Hole in the Ground (2019) d. Lee Cronin, w. Lee Cronin & Stephen Shields

It Is In Us All (2022) w/d. Antonia Campbell-Hughes

Joyride (2022) d. Emer Reynolds, w. Ailbhe Keogan

Lakelands (2023) w/d. Robert Higgins and Patrick McGivney

My Sailor, My Love (2022) d. Klaus Haro, w. Jimmy Karlsson and Kirsi Vikman

Pixie (2020) d. Barnaby Thompson, w. Preston Thompson

Redemption of a Rogue (2022) w/d. Philip Doherty

Sea Fever (2019) w/d Neasa Hardiman

Wild Mountain Thyme (2020) w/d. John Patrick Shanley



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Maher, Kevin (2021). ‘From Wild Mountain Thyme to End of Sentence: why anti-Irishness is today’s film racism Hollywood gets away with showing Ireland as a theme park and its people as red-haired, Guinness-swilling eejits, argues Dublin-born film critic Kevin Maher,’  The Times, 06 May 2021. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/wild-mountain-thyme-emily-blunt-end-of-sentence-anti-irishness-racism-57s6p9tld. Accessed 31 August 2023.

Mangan, Lucy (2023).  The Guardian, Diary’ Digested week: I’m falling apart in this heat. Someone call Gillian Keegan,’ 08 September 2023: 33. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/sep/08/digested-week-im-falling-apart-in-this-heat-someone-call-gillian-keegan. Accessed 09 September 2023.

McEntee, Helen. ‘Hostility towards hate crime is misplaced,’The Sunday Times (Ireland Edition),  25 June 2023: 12.

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O’Connor, Alison (2023). ‘We must not let the mob’s attack on our democracy ever happen again,” The Sunday Times (Ireland Edition), 17 September 2023: 16

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Location Nation: A Regional Irish Cinema, Part 3: And the Rest (plus a Conclusion)

Elaine Lennon is a film historian and the author of ChinaTowne and Pathways of Desire: Emotional Architecture in the Films of Nancy Meyers. Elaine Lennon obtained a PhD in Film Studies at the School of Media, Dublin Institute of Technology where she lectured in film and screenwriting for a decade.

Volume 27 Issue 11-12/Volume 28 Issue 1 / January 2024 Film Reviews   globalization   immigration   irish cinema   nostalgia   regionalism