'The Wind That Shakes The Barley meets Misery meets Downton Abbey’ is what cinema goers can expect when a completely home-grown film – shot mainly in Daingean and Tyrrellspass – hits a number of Irish cinemas this Friday, September 12 for a one-week run.
A Nightingale Falling premiered in Tullamore last Thursday - and already, over the weekend, won the 'Best Feature Film' award at the Sky Road Film Festival in Clifden.
The film was made with a budget of just €80,000, and the directors are husband and wife team Garreth Daly and Martina McGlynn, from Daingean - and the result is stunning, showcasing the midlands at its best.
Clever camera work thieves from nature to create shots of mesmerising beauty – the glittering chaff at a threshing; the rich greens and browns of the woods; the sun-lightened foliage along a canal path; snow lying on rolling agricultural fields, and at night, a mesmerising moon lighting the darkness of 1920s rural Ireland.It is during the War of Independence that A Nightingale Falling is set. May Collingwood (Tara Breathnach) and her sister, Tilly (Muireann Bird), find an injured Black and Tan captain (Gerard McCarthy) in a farmyard, and they hide him in their home, the local 'big house’, secretly nursing him back to health.
There’s not constant arm-to-arm combat; life is lived. But the war is there all the time, and the sisters have to steer their lives around the threat of the Black and Tans, a brutal and ominous force stalking the area, and the equally ominous IRA volunteers, whose presence extends right into their own meagre workforce.
There are strong performances by Brian Fortune as Tom Nolan, and by Elliot Moriarty, as his son, the IRA man, Jackie. The Nolan Senior is a particularly touching portrayal.
The film hinges on how the relationship between the sisters and their patient alters and develops as he returns to health – and how May tries to keep tightly-hidden her simmering rage as it becomes clear that the relationship between her younger sister and the handsome captain has grown into something more than friendship.
Mullingar and Tyrrellspass
In their post-screening remarks and thanks, they told how props were loaned by so many people to give a time-accurate sense to the film.
Mullingar hairstylists Anna and Isobel Keegan of Indulgence Hair & Beauty were vital members of the main production unit, working with the actors known for their roles in Game of Thrones, The Fall, Fair City and Ripper Street. The costumes are fantastic, thanks to the work of Meritta Gorman-Geoghegan.
Car enthusiast Ken Crann from Mullingar made a valuable contribution with his vintage vehicles and also makes an appearance in the movie as a chauffeur.
Familiar scenes to watch out for are the canal, and distinctive green and crescent of houses in Tyrrellspass. The Clockhouse in the village owned by Finbarr and Breege McCarrick is home to a pivotal scene in the movie.
Tyrrellspass’s Sylvia Mollison was instrumental in supporting the endeavours of the filmmakers and assisted with access to the church, which they were kindly granted access to by Canon Gerald Fields.
The Medical Hall Pharmacy in Tyrrellspass emptied an entire room in the shop to help the filmmakers with authentic and unique props.
Denise Heslin from Kilbeggan Distillery was also helpful to the props department, providing them with original oak barrels and vintage 'Kilbeggan Whiskey’ signage, providing a real midlands feel to the sets.
Extras in the movie were given great comfort when the GAA club in Tyrrellspass offered their clubhouse and kitchen facilities when major scenes were being filmed in St Sinian’s Church. These included Colin and John Sheeran and Ted Hinds.
Peter Wrafter from Kilbeggan donated the biggest prop – the vintage threshing machine. The fully functioning machine provides the backdrop to one of the most beautiful scenes in the movie.
• A Nightingale Falling is a great achievement – but unfortunately, its run is short, opening this Friday at selected IMC cinemas across the country, and running for just a week. Make sure, therefore not to miss it: it’s in both Tullamore and Athlone – and is definitely a must-see for all cinema fans, especially those from Westmeath and Offaly