Fairfield University launches third Irish in Film Festival on St. Patrick's Day


Image: Ireland


"The Irish in Film," a popular movie series sponsored by Fairfield University's Irish Studies Committee, opens its third series on March 17 with "Omagh" (2004), an award-winning drama based on an actual Northern Ireland IRA bombing, directed by Pete Travis. The series is an Arts & Minds Season offering.

As in past years, a Fairfield University professor who teaches in the Irish Studies Minor introduces each of this series' four diverse offerings. The films are shown in the Multimedia Room of the DiMenna-Nyselius Library on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. Fairfield University students as well as the public are welcome to this free event. Light refreshments will be served.

Dr. Kevin Cassidy, director of Irish studies, introduces "Omagh" (2004), a TV drama based on an actual bombing that took place in Northern Ireland by a group of Provisional IRA members opposed to the 1998 Good Friday Peace Accord.

Omagh, a small market town of Protestants and Catholics that had lived in peaceful co-existence during the Troubles, suffered the death of 29 of its citizens from a car bomb that exploded on a busy main street. Among the dead is the 21-year-old son of Mike Gallagher, a garage mechanic played by Gerard McSorley.

The story focuses on the effort of the father and others who suffered the loss of a loved one to find out why the bombers were never found and brought to justice. The award-winning film was co-written by Paul Greengrass, director of "Bloody Sunday" (2002), which was featured in the 2008 spring series and Guy Hibbert. Dr. Cassidy teaches "Northern Ireland: Politics of War and Peace."

The second film, "In Bruges" (2008), an Oscar-nominated brilliant dark comedy written and directed by the award-winning Irish playwright Martin McDonagh screens March 31. Set in Bruges, Belgium, two Irish hit men, Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) who live in London where they bungled a job to kill a priest, are sent to hide out in the medieval city of Bruges by their boss, Harry (Ralph Fiennes). While waiting for Harry to show up, Ray and Ken take in the cultural sights of the city, including a religious painting of purgatory.

In typical McDonagh dialogue, the exchanges between the two men are amusing albeit absurd. With "In Bruges," McDonagh, author of the Tony Award®-winner and West End hit, "The Lieutenant of Inishmore," makes his film debut as a director. Dr. Robert Epstein, associate professor of English, introduces the film.

Next, on April 14, is a 40s comedy, "The Great McGinty" (1940), directed and written by Preston Sturges. The film stars Brian Donlevy as Daniel McGinty, a former bum who becomes the front man in a political machine that makes him mayor of a city resembling both Boston and Chicago in its voting shenanigans and finally soars to become governor of the unnamed state. Once in power, McGinty marries, becomes a devoted family man, and a politician who cares about the welfare of the people he governs. This "change of heart" does not sit well with the corrupt political boss (Akim Tamiroff), who rigged McGinty's elections. The film is funny and moving, especially in its final moments, but retains the Sturges bite for which he is so well known. Dr. Leo O'Connor, the director of American studies, introduces the film.    

On April 28, the series ends with a rare showing of "The Treaty" (1992), a historical drama about the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 that led to the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. Directed by Jonathan Lewis, the film is a co-production with RTE (Radio Telefis Eireann) and the BBC and has not been seen in general release. Although not a high budget film, it is nonetheless dramatically fascinating and considered more historically accurate than Neil Jordan's "Michael Collins" (1996), which starred Liam Neeson in the title role. ("Michael Collins" was shown at the first "The Irish in Film" series in the spring, 2007.)

"The Treaty" stars Ian Bannen as David Lloyd-George, the British Prime Minister and Tony Doyle as Arthur Griffith, the Irish political theorist and statesman. Besides the creation of the Irish Free State, the Treaty required an Oath of Allegiance to the Crown and access of the British navy to Irish ports. Dr. William Abbott, associate professor of history, will present the film.

For more information, please contact Marion White, Irish Studies Committee, at (203) 254-4000, ext. 3021, or by e-mail at mwhite@fairfield.edu.

Directions: Fairfield University is located off I-95, exit 22 at 1073 North Benson Road, Fairfield, CT 06824.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 18, 2010

Vol. 42, No. 201