All the Oscar nominations were indeed great news for the Irish film industry. It put Irish actors and actresses and the other creative roles involved in film making on all media feeds and kept them there for several weeks. Tim and I went to see The Banshees of Inisherin just after Christmas. The scenery was magnificent. Achill and Aran were splendid in all their rugged beauty. The acting was superb. Jenny the donkey was just lovely and her performance had me googling miniature donkeys! I fancied myself a pet. Could you imagine Tim’s face when that little gem would be delivered. It’s awfully tempting and Jenny was such a dote but alas the prices are prohibitive! So there I was enjoying the film, recognising the places on Achill and enthralled by the dialogue between the two men. The dynamic between them is typical of some relationships in rural Ireland. They bust up, make up and sometimes never recover for whatever reason. Then the film took a turn for the worst with a self-harm element. I was done. By the time the film was over, I was so angry, I could hardly have a conversation with Tim. It was brutal, unnecessary and absolutely ruined my experience. Maybe the writer, director and producer Martin McDonagh aimed to shock, who knows? The star of the show for me was Barry Keoghan with his portrayal of Dominic.

Despite my disquiet over the Banshees! I’m glad of their success. When I was a child, a most awful threat for misbehaviour was that the banshee would come and take me. I remember my Dad calling me out one night to hear the banshee. My mother refused to accompany us. I’ve no idea what keening sound I heard that night. It was probably mating foxes. It sent a shiver of fear down my spine and I’ve no desire to hear it ever again.

An Cailín Ciúin

The following day, An Cailín Ciúin was in the Reel Picture Cinema locally. It is quite hard to see this one so we grabbed the opportunity. Childhood memories were stirred by the fields and cow byre, the buckets and churns, the clothes, the oilcloth on the table and much more. It was just the atmosphere I had grown up in. We milked cows by hand back then. I went on holidays to Aunties and Uncles on both sides of the family during the summer. I remember those car journeys except I was always coming home to a good life. This film touched me in a special way and I will definitely go to see it again. Catherine Clinch was so authentic as nine-year-old Cáit. Carrie Crowley as Eibhlín and Andrew Bennett as Séan exposed the vulnerabilities and repercussions of loss during an era when Irish people found it difficult to communicate about feelings. Still, there was so much love left for little Cáit.

Amidst all the talk and hype, an Oscar did not materialise for An Cailín Ciúin or The Banshees of Inisherin. Richard Baneham from Dublin was part of the team to win an Oscar for best visual effects on the film Avatar; The Way of Water. It’s not one I would watch but I salute Richard’s success.

An Irish Goodbye

An Irish Goodbye took home the Oscar for Best Live-Action Short Film. Commanding the stage in a Leopard print jacket, James Martin owned the night with the rest of the team from An Irish Goodbye. The film was written, produced and directed by Tom Berkeley and Ross White. James Martin plays Lorcan and Seamus O’Hara plays Turlough. The two are estranged brothers. They come together to honour their recently deceased mother’s bucket list. Lorcan loves farming and wants to stay on the farm. Seamus has other ideas.

James has Down syndrome and is from Northern Ireland. He is the first man with Down syndrome to win an Oscar. The film has also won a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). I listened to Ivan, James’ Dad on Morning Ireland. He was ecstatic for his son. He spoke about the journey and I immediately appreciated the years of collecting and dropping to drama class, the relentless applications and auditions for an acting role. We live and breathe it here every week with Diarmuid. Diarmuid and his drama group are thrilled for James. Heartiest congratulation to the team of An Irish Goodbye. History has been made.

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