Fairfield University's popular Irish Studies film series returns


Fairfield University's Irish Studies Committee has teamed up once again with American Studies to present the third consecutive movie series, "The Irish in Film," which begins Wednesday, Jan. 23 with the John Ford classic film, "Rio Grande" (1950). As in the past, a Fairfield University professor who teaches in the Irish Studies minor will introduce each film. The screenings will take place in the Multimedia Room of the DiMenna-Nyselius Library on Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. In addition to Fairfield University students, faculty and staff, the community is welcome to enjoy this free series. Light refreshments will be served.

Fairfield's Dr. James Mullan founded the Irish Studies Program in 1999 and was director until 2006. In his opinion, a film festival focusing on the Irish enlightens us all because "these movies celebrate a sense of deep friendship and communal sharing - rare themes in cinema today."

The showing of "Rio Grande" marks the first time the series has included an American Western. Director John Ford, who is noted for his expressive portrayal of the rugged western landscape, also knew star chemistry when he saw it. The Duke - John Wayne - and Dublin-born Maureen O'Hara make their first appearance as co-stars in this film. "Rio Grande" is the third of Ford's cavalry trilogy and is set in post-Civil War America. Dr. Leo O'Connor, director of American Studies and who teaches the film course, "Images of the Irish in American Film," will introduce the film on Jan. 23.

The series continues on Feb. 6 with Thaddeus O'Sullivan's "December Bride" (1990). Set in a contemporary Northern Ireland rural Presbyterian community, Sarah (Saskia Reeves), the title character, becomes involved with the Echlin brothers, played by Donal McCann and Ciarán Hinds. She rocks this tight-knit Ulster Protestant community with news of the birth of an out-of-wedlock son and her refusal to identify which brother is the baby's father. The film challenges traditional assumptions about Irish culture and its people. Dr. William Abbot, associate professor of history, will provide an introduction to the film.

On Wednesday, Feb. 20, Irish-born director John Carney's 2007 Sundance Festival "Audience Award"-winning film, "Once" (2006) will be shown. The film is set in contemporary Dublin and depicts the new Ireland of immigrants as seen in the portrayal of Markéta Irglová as a pianist from Eastern Europe who meets a Dublin street performer, played by Glen Hansard, the lead singer and songwriter of the Irish rock band, The Frames. The two musicians become collaborators and romantically involved. A highlight of the film is the performance of eight unknown songs by Hansard. Dr. Donald Greenberg who is chairman of the Politics Department and teaches "Irish and Jewish Immigration Patterns," will give the introduction.

The final film in the series, "Waking Ned Devine" (1998), will be shown after spring break on Wednesday, March 12. This delightful comedy, directed by Kirk Jones, is set in the tiny Irish costal village of Tullymore: population 53. The story concerns two elderly friends, played by Ian Bannen as Jackie O'Shea and David Kelly as Michael O'Sullivan, who plot to get their hands on a lucrative lottery ticket won by a recently deceased villager, Ned Devine. The friends promise to share the winnings with all the villagers if they agree to go along with their scheme. With the help of the village, Michael pretends to be Ned Devine and ultimately, finds it nearly impossible to sustain the ruse. Dr. Mullan will present the film.

For more information, please contact Dr. Kevin Cassidy, director of Irish Studies at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2862 or by e-mail at kjcassidy@mail.fairfield.edu.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on January 7, 2008

Vol. 40, No. 145