Irish Week: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day Responsibly, Watch The Secret of Kells

It’s that time of the year again, when everyone pretends to be Irish and the real Irish milk it from the American tourists for all it’s worth. St. Patrick’s Day is on Thursday so until then, this post is part of a series on Ireland and Irish-related animation. You can browse the full series here.

Today’s the day and while I would have liked to have written this yesterday, I could not, so I am writing it this morning before the day begins (that sounded poetic…). It is hard to believe that two years after it was released in Ireland, we are still talking about this film, it is a testament to how much it has resonated with audiences around the world. So much so that I wrote a post about it a while back.

Anyways, what better way to celebrate Ireland and Irishness than a nice Irish film eh? And if you’ve already watched it, watch it again, you might discover something you may have missed the last time around.

PS:

CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE IS NOT IRISH!

Irish Week: At Least The Irish Government Recognises The Cultural Value of Animation

It’s that time of the year again, when everyone pretends to be Irish and the real Irish milk it from the American tourists for all it’s worth. St. Patrick’s Day is on Thursday so until then, this post is part of a series on Ireland and Irish-related animation. You can browse the full series here.

Via: Brown Blog Films

What you see above is the real deal, sent to both Tomm Moore (Cartoon Saloon, The Secret of Kells) and Nicky Phelan (Brown Bag Films, Granny O’Grim). By the sounds of the respective blog posts, it was nothing short of a complete shock for both invitees.

Now St. Patrick’s Day is a huge deal for the Irish government because unlike any other country, March 17th is for the Irish and the Irish alone (everyone’s Irish for a day, etc, etc). As a result, the government and the country have long realised that they have been given this extraordinary opportunity: a whole day to market Ireland to the entire world without interference from other (non-catastrophic) events. In fact, the combination of St Patrick’s Day and the opening of NCAA March Madness is seen by some (including my boss) as a perfect storm of events.

You’d think that for the Irish Government and the embassies and so forth that this would be a great day of relaxation and celebration. Not so, I was talking to a guy from the Irish Embassy in Washington DC last year and he told me in no uncertain terms that St. Patrick’s Day is by far the busiest day of the year, when everyone is frantically organising things, meeting people doing interviews, etc. So it would seem that the only civil servants getting a rest are the ones at home!

In line with the various ‘promoting’ activities that the Irish government does is the now-traditional White House meeting, where the President of the United States (POTUS) presents the Taoiseach (prime minister) with a bowl of shamrocks (interesting note: it was George W. Bush who began this custom, before, it was just a plain ol’ handshake).

Afterwards there is the reception and dinner for the festivities where I’m sure there are many fine congressmen and senators who attend to whoop up their Irish heritage. Sadly many Irish-Americans are ignorant to the simple fact that corned beef and cabbage just isn’t an Irish dish. For some, their entire world falls apart when I inform them of this.

As the entire day is one to promote Ireland and Irish culture, it is delightful to see that two animators are included. The government could easily have chosen a few poets, singers, artists and so forth to attend (and probably have in the past) but they didn’t. Surely both invitations are a sign that the Irish government has recognised the ability of animation to transcend borders and cultures and to promote Ireland in a positive light to the world. Both animator’s Academy Award nominations last year have no doubt helped lead to tomorrows event.

Hopefully this is not the last time we see Irish animators being invited to the White House although I think we’re off to a great start.

Irish Week: Do All Dogs Go To Heaven?

It’s that time of the year again, when everyone pretends to be Irish and the real Irish milk it from the American tourists for all it’s worth. St. Patrick’s Day is on Thursday so until then, this post is part of a series on Ireland and Irish-related animation. You can browse the full series here.

Via: Wikipedia

I’m afraid my time has been squeezed for today’s post so instead, I am suggesting you all go out and watch All Dogs Go To Heaven, a film that was (for the most part) produced in Dublin. My memory of it is fairly hazy but feel free to comment below if you have any thoughts on the film. Hopefully we can get a nice wee discussion going. 🙂

Irish Week: How The Tenacity of Irish Studios Is Doing Them Wonders

It’s that time of the year again, when everyone pretends to be Irish and the real Irish milk it from the American tourists for all it’s worth. St. Patrick’s Day is on Thursday so until then, this post is part of a series on Ireland and Irish-related animation. You can browse the full series here.

For a long time, there were not studios in Ireland, production studios I mean. Then one day, Don Bluth and Morris Sullivan decided to set up shop in Dublin, but more on that later this week.

Since that first, initial explosion of animation in Ireland, there has been an almost continuous expansion of the industry and although the original Sullivan-Bluth Studios are defunct, the educational course that studio started is still very much alive.

The advancement of the industry over the years is nothing sort of amazing when you think about it. Here was a country with no real prior animation experience getting thrown head-first into the topsy-turvy world of cartoons. Since then, numerous studios have popped up as Irish-trained animators began to venture out into the industry on their own, and despite the harsh business environment, have succeeded!

In terms of gaining business, Irish outfits have very much followed the lead set by the various Japanese and Korean companies in years past. That it, to become an offshore production studio for major studios and gradually use that experience to create you own content. It is a well-worn yet tried and tested method that has indeed helped Irish studios gain familiarity and knowledge of the world-wide industry and of course allow them to attain a reputation and personal relationships along the way. Of course the old irish charm helps a lot too. 😉

The success of the likes of The Secret of Kells is proof that Irish culture and stories can have an international appeal and since that films success, other Irish studios have slowly but surely been heading in that direction hoping to emulate the unparalleled success of Kells.

Animation Ireland has a comprehensive list of Irish studios and what they do and it’s a list well worth checking out. There were even a few I didn’t know about!

The sometimes cutthroat nature of working in animation can be notoriously difficult to achieve success in and I think that all the hard work that people have put into making Ireland a hub for animation has certainly been worth the effort. It’s been proven that it can be done and I firmly believe that right now, we are on the cusp of a protracted age of Irish animation success.

Irish Week: Why Everyone Ought to Read An tEachtaire

It’s that time of the year again, when everyone pretends to be Irish and the real Irish milk it from the American tourists for all it’s worth. St. Patrick’s Day is on Thursday so until then, this post is part of a series on Ireland and Irish-related animation. You can browse the full series here.

Via: Leabhar.com

For those of you who aren’t Irish, the title of this comic won’t mean a thing. For those who are and who had Irish hammered into passionately taught to them, they know that a tEachtaire means messenger in Irish.

So who would happen to be the messenger in an Irish comic? Why St. Patrick himself of course!

The comic in question is written by Colmán Ó Raghallaigh and illustrated by…….Tomm Moore! It centres around the life of St. Patrick as he is kidnapped from Wales as a young lad and forced to mind sheep on a mountain. After he flees, he has a series of dreams where the Irish call him back to teach them the Gospel. Patrick does so and spends the rest of his life converting the heathens pagans into Christians.

That particular version of the story is a bit boring for a comic, so Ó Raghallaigh has spiced it up a wee bit with a focus on the drama and some marvelous illustrations by Moore. There are plenty of displays of agony, torment, confrontations and Celtic imagery, as can be seen below.

It’s not overly long, although as you get into the story, length become rather irrelevant as your mind begins to wander as the illustrations come to life inside your head. Both authors have managed to create a very cohesive comic that simply could not be anything but Irish in origin.

I found my Irish had become rather rusty after a few years away from home although there is an English translation available so you’re not left completely in the dark.

I must say it was a very pleasant surprise to find this under the Christmas tree (kudos to my girlfriend for knowing me better than I know myself) and I found it re-awakened an awareness that Ireland has a rich and varied history that is more than capable of being translated for modern audiences.