Writer, film maker and public speaker

Once Upon a Time


The Men of Ventry and The Egg that Reared Them


The Ventry Cowboys And The Egg That Reared Them!

Talk of migration and its effects is, sadly, on Irish lips once again.  Tearful farewells on the mountain road are re-imagined and experienced once again. Partings it seems are the never-ending punctuation to the story of the rural communities of this country. However, there is another side to that sad coin.

Fearaibh Fionntra  – Men of Ventry is a series of hopeful vignettes which will be broadcast on TG4  in two parts, on Sunday May 5 at 9.30pm and on Monday May 6 at 8pm. Tellingly, the film uncovers a tale of  love and attachment that is undying and indeed is resonant of both the cherishing of and the seeking for quiet places.  Brenda Ní Shúilleabh​áin, the West Kerry domiciled documentary film-maker. records a reality which in these straitened times will nurture hope that other lives are still possible.

Viewers are admitted to the lives of those who stayed through earlier hard times. And The Merry Cowboys - Suaircfhearaibh na mBó are still sticking it out through thick and thin as their families before them have done for many generations.

Sean Moriarty has had a happy life on his dairy farm. Coming into his inheritance as a result of his brother's leaving, he was witnessed the great changes and a some contraction of community, but regardless, he is content. While Muiris Ó Fiannachta isn't optimistic about the survival of their way of life, himself and his son continue to farm their land. Despite his doubts, he continues working with wit and good-humour. Witness his hand-rearing of Jaws, a toothless lamb, with feeding bottles full of lager. Did he survive, or is he chops?

There has been emigration indeed, but the community has continued over the years to attract new blood.  American native, Harris Moore, a well-travelled busker in another life has the local Celtic museum, which houses amongst the antique jewellery and paintings, the only skeleton of a Woolly Mammoth extant in Ireland; Michel Chauvet runs his restaurant 'The Skipper', which is located in the centre of the village. He says that he left the area once, but was inevitably drawn back: marine engineer John Holstead came to visit many years ago, and stayed, never to return to his Yorkshire home.  After working in the Dingle dockyard he built a reputation as a sculptor. The film records the unveiling of his work which portrays, inside a shell structure, the fields and town lands and the surrounding mountains which incubate and enables the lives and talents, that nurture livestock and the land, and also gave birth to his creation 'The Ventry Egg'. Watch this egg being laid in the beautiful surroundings of Cuan Pier.

Asked why they stay on in the parish, the participants in this moving and sensitive film say quite simply, it's because they like it there.

Ellen BrandonProductions  www.brenda.ie

Men of Ventry/Fearaibh Fionntrá


Men are magic. Watch Fearaibh Fionntrá and see. From the tiny western parish of Ventry, we tell the story of men, rural men everywhere. Farming, fishing, sculpting, cooking, telling ever taller stories, laughing, weeping, running museums … they are the men you knew and liked. The men who rahttps:/ised you. The men who made you feel you could rule the world. 

Men who have standards, who are decent, earthy, funny, irreverent, serious, reliable, insightful. And that's not the half of it. 

Wherever you live in Ireland – or in the world – these men will resonate with you. Their stories are the stories of rural Ireland, the story of the rural world in the last 50 years. And there is the addition of the new – men who chose Ventry, and prefer living there to anywhere else in the world. 

The programmes are being broadcast on TG4 starting on Sunday April 14 at 9.30pm. Watch and enjoy.

Here is a taste - one of the later ones..... if your broadband is bad, let it download for a while before you play.


Restraint and constraint


This is a thinking aloud blog. In yesterday's paper, there was a piece about a website for teenagers that gave advice about threesome sex. I have been thinking about this ever since. First reaction was one of revulsion. It would have been unacceptable for me to provide that kind of information to my children. It would have been impossible, as it is outside my experience. So would it have been ok for someone else to do it? Not with me. 

Are there some things that are not ok at all? Ever? Or not ok as part of public discourse? Is that censorship? Is there a right to total freedom of information? Is it ok for Japan to publish manuals giving directions for successful suicides? Is the tradition of seppuku being perpetuated? Is that ok? Would it be ok in Ireland?

Some of the talk on the threesome business mentioned Pompeii. I assume they are referring to the illustrations in Pompeiian brothels. It is also reasonable to assume that an understanding of this behaviour was at some level part of public knowledge. But would it have been considered appropriate to provide this kind of material for children? For the children of the upper classes?

Is there a case to be made both for restraint and for constraint? If we can publish whatever we wish in one area of life, why not in another? Why not get rid of granny? Why not kill the weak and unproductive? Is there a connection between all these things?

I think threesomes should be conducted, if at all, as Mrs. Patrick Campbell suggested: in privacy, with discretion. To claim that threesomes are  normal, mainstream sexual activities is silly, and could be dangerous. Let us not frighten the horses. 

I wish somebody read these blogs. A response or two would help this

Dingle International Film Festival


The seventh film festival has just finished, to the great credit of its chief executive, Maurice Galway. So what were my own favourites? Well, Mark McLoughlin collaborated with Brian Maguire on a very powerful film on murders of women in Ciudad Juarez, across the US/Mexican border at El Paso. Ironically, next door to El Paso, statistically the safest city in the United States, murder is commonplace in Juarez. Thousands of people in a very short space of time. And no investigations. Girls murdered by their partners, by drug dealers, girls as young as 13 kidnapped, abused, mutilated, and finally killed and dumped in the desert. Sometimes animals have eaten most of their bodies by the time their remains are discovered. And nobody cares, except the mothers. Not even, according to the evidence of this film, the fathers. So the mothers work alone, erecting pink crosses with the word Justicia, in the desperate hope of avenging their daughters' lives, and of stopping the carnage.

It was a pity it was such a black film, I went in such a lighthearted mood, with Carol Cronin, with whom I had had a grand lunch. But it certainly was thought provoking. At one point, Brian Maguire, until recently Professor of Painting in NCAD, said "All good art comes from anger."

I don't agree with that. Do you?

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