Dingle was the best ever this year. Not that I got to see all the films I wanted to – work commitments took us away a day early. But here are the moments I loved:
Watching the documentary film in the Phoenix Cinema about Michael O’Sullivan, longtime owner and real film buff, also a Kerryman through and through, fishing, farming and living the local life. He ran the Phoenix in good times and bad because ‘I love cinema – and I love people!’ As he raised his glass to camera – and us – Nico Brown’s music came under the shot with a tear-jerking version of ‘The Parting Glass’. As Maurice Galway said, ‘We miss you, Michael’. I remember meeting him in his evening dress as he showed us to our seats; a whole row of people stood to let us pass, while he chatted of this and that. Eventually he let us go, and I turned round to see Gabriel Byrne, the guest of honour that year, patiently standing and waiting.
Early on Saturday we had a treat – live music to a silent film made by Tom Fitzgerald, the Dingle ironmonger who was the same height as Robert Mitchum, so was drafted in to be his stand-in when the original broke his leg and returned to the US. Tom filmed between takes, and the feeling that came across most strongly was the pure fun and enjoyment everyone was having being part of ‘Ryan’s Daughter’. Live music was provided by the silvery-toned Eílís Kennedy and the tuneful whistling of Nico Brown and his many instruments. A full house at 8 am on St Patrick’s Day.
Finally, on Saturday night, a poignant little film about Amy Winehouse and the gig she did in Dingle when she was 22. Shown in the very same venue as her concert, St James’ Church, and intercut with an engaging and joyous interview she gave to John Kelly from RTE, it reminded us all that genius comes at a price. and that her musical journey was only just beginning.
There was more – films long and short, happy encounters, parties, exchanges of ideas and business cards, fabulous food and a pipe band and parade. But don’t take it from me – be there next year and experience it for yourself!