Here we are at the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day, which has been covered well by my colleagues this week or in the past. By the time St.Patrick’s Day officially hits on Sunday, it will be almost anti-climatic here in the USA, where parades for the event took place last Saturday… I have no idea why.
The religious reason of the day is not significant here, and the revelry might get out of hand, so let me offer something in the middle, for those of you who wish to indulge in things Irish, without leaning too far one way or another: movies.
Now there are many movies which feature Irish people or ‘the times and the troubles’ that are probably not worth your time or your trouble. If you do care to see any ‘times and the troubles’ movies, I highly suggest “Michael Collins”, followed by “The Wind That Shakes the Barley”. But, in warning; these are not feel-good movies.
For ‘feel-good’ movies you cannot beat one. I tip my hat to my friend Jeff , our Hound, who last year presented info on the most loved movie about Ireland, “The Quiet Man”. (https://fourfoxesonehound.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/kiss-the-blarney-stone/, where I even added my two-cents).
That is THE movie about Ireland in anyone’s book.
Although you cannot tell many stories about Ireland without showing the sad flaws that came from many of the conditions that have plagued the isle, some movies are less flattering to the place and the people than others. One has to admit that the English did not do right by them, nor did the rest of the world during the great famine. And, as the only Catholic here, I will say that the Church has more than its share of blame,( during the famine and since.) I can’t speak for all but I don’t see how the world can pick on the Irish for being what they often consider ‘lazy and ignorant’ when the education of Catholics was illegal for many years under the Penal Laws. People were often forced off their farms and out of their homes. Work was not to be found and in many places, even if work was to be found, no native Irish,(Catholic Irish), were hired. That is the last of my preaching on history, but too many movies, even those popular like “Darby O’Gill and the Little People” and “Far and Away” are just not kind to the people of the Old Sod.(“Far and Away is particularly annoying to me. It is one of those movies with no truly likeable characters. Only Cruise’s young man has any scruples at all.)
But on to where I was headed at the start of this.
You can go “Waking Ned Devine” if you want an adult laugh with warmth of Ireland, or find “The Nephew” and [“This Is] My Father” for some adult drama also with warmth. But if you want a nice bog-fire-in-a-cottage warm feeling, I suggest two family movies: “The War of the Buttons“ and “The Secret of Roan Inish“, both which feature children in the lead roles.
I know these are not commonly known films. “The War of the Buttons” was a French film that was re-written and re-worked to fit Ireland. It starts with a rivalry between schoolchildren of the country and the shore and the ones of the next town and things snowball from there. “The Secret of Roan Inish” is a beautiful tale involving a seafaring family who has lost its soul when they moved to the mainland. It is a fantasy involving the possibility of “Silky” blood in the family. (Silkies are said to be seals that can shed their skin and become like humans.)
I try to run Irish movies for St. Patrick’s Day at my house. The minimal amount I usually do are these two, and “The Quiet Man”.
And I’ll add one more for good measure, although good luck finding it. I saw it on TV twice, and that was some years ago. “Sally and St.Anne” is not an overtly religious movie, but rather an excuse for a quaint comedy about an eccentric but loveable Irish-American family. It stars a young Ann Blyth and Edmond Gwynne, familiar faces among many others from older movies and TV shows,( such as Frances Bavier, aka “Aunt Bea” , Hugh O’Brien, John McInyre and Jack Kelly, who were former big names in westerns).
And one more message, from me to you… one sent to me this week by an old friend, a Protestant.
I pray these wishes for every one of you! I hope you take a moment to listen and enjoy the scenery… have a wonderful day, on the feast of St. Patrick.