Galway’s “edge of the world” situation between river, lake and sea has inspired a documentary which secured a top award earlier this week at the Irish Film Festival London writes Lorna Siggins
The documentary entitled Cumar – a Galway Rhapsody explores the influences of Connemara’s Atlantic landscape and Galway on seven artists, including musician/composer Máirtín O’Connor, poet/playwright Rita Ann Higgins and novelist Mike McCormack.
Macnas performance company artistic director Noeline Kavanagh, singer-song-writer, RóisínSeoighe, visual artist, Pádraic Reaney and comedian, Tommy Tiernan were also profiled in the documentary.
Described as “Galway’s own cinematic sean-nós” by Ronan Doyle of independent film website Scannáin, it was conceived and directed by Aodh Ó Coileáin of NUI Galway and produced by Paddy Hayes of Tua Films.
It had its premiere at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh in July and was screened in Chicago, USA, in September.
“It is of particular significance to be selected for this award in London, a city so central to Irish artistic endeavour,” Ó Coileáin said.
“Since coming to live in Galway over 30 years ago, I have wondered what it is about this catchment area that produces artists and attracts artists to the city of tribes,” Ó Coileáin, from Co Kerry, says.
“The film touches on some of the explanations that have occurred to me from time to time: the city’s diverse cultural background stretching into medieval times and beyond, the confluence of languages, the rich tradition of music and song… or is it simply the meeting of the waters: river, lake, and sea?”
He recalled how many west of Irish musicians and artists came to London to work in the years after the second world war, including Joe Heaney from Carna, Co Galway, piper Willie Clancy and fiddle player Bobby Casey from Co Clare, and singer Margaret Barry from Cork.
He recalled that Druid Theatre company’s performance of J M Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World at the Donmar Warehouse in London’s Covent Garden in 1985 was a “milestone in Irish theatre”.
Irish Film Festival London founder and director Kelly O’Connor predicted that Cumar would become a “long-standing document of the intrinsic essence and influence of Galway”.
Galway composer Jake Morgan wrote the documentary’s score, while Galway Street Club made a guest appearance.
The film will be screened at London’s Regent Street Cinema as part of the Irish Film Festival London on November 24th at 7.30 pm.
The documentary is an ilDána film, funded by TG4 and the Arts Council, in association with Galway Film Centre.