Robert Flaherty Feature Doc to Begin Post Production
31 Jul 2009
Editing will begin shortly on 'A Boatload of Wild Irishmen', a feature
length documentary on Robert Flaherty, who became one of documentary
cinema's most influential figures directing and producing the 1922
feature length film 'Nanook of the North'.
by Brian Winston, an Emmy award-winning documentary script-writer, 'A
Boatload of Wild Irishmen' is being produced/directed and shot by Mac
Dara Ó Curraidhín. The actor (and Aran Islander) Macdara Ó Fátharta
will narrate the Irish language version of the film. An English
language version for international distribution may be produced at a
The documentary will
explain the importance of Robert Flaherty, over the dramatic footage he
took of a currach caught in a monstrous sea (from Man of Aran, 1934).
He was the first to see that film of the every day life of 'real'
people could be moulded into dramatic, entertaining narratives: but, by
the same token, he is also the father of manipulation and distortion as
well as being a bridge whereby stereotypes of exotic peoples (including
Aran Islanders of the 1930s) became part of cinema.
The prime-source of
imagery for the documentary will be the Flaherty film archive including
'Nanook of the North', 'Moana; The Pottery Maker' (1925); 'The 24
Dollar Island' (1926/7) and 'Man of Aran'.
This will be augmented by
contemporary photography of various locations in Ireland, England, the
USA, Canada and Samoa; his stills; other archival materials including
'Man of Aran: How the Myth was Filmed' and interviews with Mrs Frances
Flaherty, Colman 'Tiger' King (recorded by Breandán Ó hÉithir in
England in the 1970s) and Portrait of Robert Flaherty (a BBC radio
documentary of 1952 with interviews with Flaherty, among others).
Editing will take place over the next six to eight weeks in Lincon, UK, and will be overseen by David Sleitht.
The film was funded by the BCI, TG4, the Irish Film Board, EM Media (U.K.), and MEDIA Europa.
Filming Pádraic Connolly a tPoll na Peist, aka the Serpent's Cave or the Worm Hole on Inis Mór, for Tourism
Ireland's online film highlighting the 'hidden gems' of County Galway
Pádraic Connolly is doing his bit for tourism this year by presenting a
short film on the 'hidden gems' of Co Galway on Tourism Ireland's
website. It is one of a series of ten short films or 'webisodes' which
have already been viewed by almost 400,000 potential visitors around
the world - see here for the video on Aran-Isles.com
Pádraic Connolly takes a trip to the
Tourism Ireland recently launched the series of films which feature
real local characters from around the island of Ireland introducing
their favourite 'hidden gems'. Galwayman Pádraic Connolly was selected
from the 1,000+ people across the island who applied to take part, to
tell viewers and potential holidaymakers around the world about some of
his favourite places in his home county.
In the film, Pádraic takes the viewer on a journey around Connemara
- highlighting the spectacular scenery and beautiful coastline. He
begins in Roundstone Harbour where he meets some of the local
fishermen. He continues to the beautiful Coral Strand at Carraroe and
then it is on to his own birthplace, Rossaveal, and from there to Inis
Mór. Throughout the film, he regales the viewer with his many tales
and legends - including a story about the local man who disappeared at
the Worm Hole on Inis Mór! He finishes his journey on Inis Oírr with
its cluster of ancient ruins.
"Visitors repeatedly tell us that what distinguishes the island of
Ireland from other destinations - what sets us apart from our
competitors - is our people and our scenery", said Laughlin Rigby,
eMarketing Manager, Tourism Ireland. "This online movie, presented by
Pádraic, provides an added dimension of information on the many
attractions on offer in Co Galway, in a novel and entertaining way".
"Customers are not just searching for the lowest fare any more; they
are seeking information and recommendations on the perfect holiday
experience - where to go, what to see and do and where to eat. These
movies complement our new global advertising campaign 'Go Where Ireland
Takes You'. The campaign has been designed to capture the spontaneity
and fun of holidaying here and to show that some of the most wonderful
and memorable experiences you are likely to have here will be stumbled
on by chance", Rigby added.
The ten films or 'webisodes', which have been translated into five
European languages, feature on Tourism Ireland's suite of 41 websites
and are also being promoted in its main overseas markets on Yahoo. The
films will also feature on a new promotional DVD, which will be
distributed to potential holidaymakers in the all-important GB market
during August. To see the films, visit www.discoverireland.com/go
The engineers also faired over the observer's cockpit at the front of
the fuselage, and enlarged the pilot's cockpit to allow Alcock and
Brown to sit side-by-side. The Vimy was then disassembled and crated,
to be shipped across the Atlantic to Newfoundland. (The attempt would
start from there because the prevailing winds blew from West to East,
making a crossing in that direction easier and needing less fuel.)
arrival in Newfoundland, the aircraft was reassembled at Lesters Field.
The photographs below show various stages in the process, which took 14
this was being done, the field was being prepared for take-off. A
surviving receipt from one Charles F. Lester to Captain Alcock shows a
total charge of $1,345.10 for the work, including 2,079 hours of labor
at 40c per hour and 330 hours at 25c per hour! It's interesting to
compare those figures to today's minimum-wage legislation - they're not
far off, in terms of relative value.
The field was still very
rough, and Brown wasn't sure that the heavily-laden Vimy could take off
successfully. In an attempt to save weight and reduce rolling
resistance, he removed a nose-wheel that had been attached to the front
skid. This was to have interesting consequences on the other side of
Alcock had a stroke of luck during the reassembly
process. The Handley-Page team (see above) were having trouble with
what they thought was a defective radiator, which kept clogging. Alcock
realized that the real problem was not the radiator, but the local
water, which was heavily mineralized and carried a great deal of
sediment. He promptly arranged that the water to be used in the cooling
system of the Vimy's engines would be filtered several times, then
boiled. This removed the sediment and minerals from it. The
Handley-Page team were still waiting for their new radiator when Alcock
and Brown took off!
The preparations for the flight were marred
by poor weather. There was no hangar to protect the Vimy from the
elements, and curious sight-seers tried to take pieces of the aircraft
as souvenirs. This was not very helpful. The ground crew had to mount
constant guard over it, sheltering from the rain and bitter cold in the
packing-crates in which it had arrived.
The aircraft was finally
ready. Locals gathered around for this photograph before departure on
June 14th, 1919. It bears Brown's signature.
Alcock and Brown got into their flying suits. They are shown here before departure.
The Vimy took off on its long journey at 1.45 p.m. local time.
and Brown carried a radio transmitter, and were supposed to radio their
position regularly: but this malfunctioned three hours into the flight.
For hours there was uncertainty as to whether or not they were safe, as
this New York Times headline shows.
the flight, engine and wind noise make it almost impossible for Alcock
and Brown to hear one another speak. Brown communicated navigation
information to Alcock by writing it in his notebook, then showing the
page to the pilot (using his flashlight at night to illuminate the
page). An example of one such message in his notebook is shown below.
flight was long, arduous and very hazardous. After a few hours, fog
appeared, and they had no choice but to fly into it. The fog was so
thick that they couldn't even see their engines, and their sound was
muffled. Alcock had no modern blind-flying instruments, as can be seen
in this photograph of the Vimy's cockpit.
had to fly as straight and level as possible, hoping for a patch of
clear visibility now and then so that Brown could check their position.
None appeared for some time. As darkness fell, the inner exhaust pipe
of the right-hand engine split, spitting flames into the slipstream. To
make matters worse, the batteries powering the electric heating
elements in their flying suits ran down. Alcock later remarked that
they "froze like young puppies", even more so because they could not
move about in the cramped cockpit.
Alcock tried to climb above
the fog to enable Brown to get a sun-sight, but they found cloud above
the fog. Entering a thick fog-bank, the plane dropped in a spiral
almost to the surface of the sea before Alcock could regain control and
climb once more. The fliers refreshed themselves with sandwiches, beer
and whisky. At last Brown was able to get a shot of the setting sun,
right behind them, so that they were reasonably confident that they
were on course. They flew on into the night.
midnight Brown was able to get a few star sights, fixing their position
again. They had covered 850 nautical miles, and had just over 1,000
still to go. They ate more sandwiches, and drank coffee laced with
whisky. Alcock later commented, "I looked towards Brown, and saw that
he was singing, but I couldn't understand a word." One presumes the
singing was the result of high spirits, rather than the liquid variety!
about 3 a.m. they hit heavy weather once more, with thick cloud. The
Vimy went out of control, falling towards the sea in a vertical dive.
Alcock only just managed to level out before they hit the water. He
commented, "The salty taste we noted later on our tongues was foam. In
any case the altimeter wasn't working at that low height and I think
that we were not more than 16 to 20 ft. above the water."
began to fall, building up on the wings and fuselage, and ice began to
form on the engines, blocking the air intakes and carburetor air
filters. According to Brown's later accounts, he made several trips out
onto the wings to clear the ice and snow away from the engines.
However, others have disputed this, noting that Brown never wrote of
such efforts in his hourly log entries, and pointing out that he had a
badly injured, partly crippled leg which would have made such movements
all but impossible. Since Alcock died soon after the flight, there was
no evidence to support or contradict Brown's subsequent claims. The
controversy has continued to this day.
Icing continued to
bedevil them through the night. Daylight came at 6.20 a.m., by which
time the lateral controls had iced solid. Alcock tried to take the Vimy
higher, to allow Brown to get a sun sight and fix their position. At
7.20 a.m., at a height of 11,800 feet, he was able to do so, and
reported that they were on course. However, it was imperative that they
find warmer air to prevent the controls from freezing. Alcock took the
Vimy down into the clouds once more. At 1,000 feet, the warmer air
melted the ice, making flying easier.
At about 8 a.m. they
sighted Ireland, coming in over the town of Clifden near Connemara.
They circled the local radio station, with an inviting green meadow
nearby. They saw people waving from the radio station, which they
thought was a welcome. In reality the waves were an attempt to warn
them that the 'meadow' was not a meadow at all, but Derrygimla Bog, far
too soft for them to land: but the fliers could not know this.
brought the Vimy down on the bog at 8.40 a.m. It ran for only a short
distance before the front skid (minus its wheel, which Brown had
removed in Newfoundland) dug into the bog and flipped the aircraft onto
its nose, breaking the lower wings and damaging the front of the
fuselage. Brown reportedly turned to Alcock and asked, "What do you
think of that for fancy navigating?" Alcock replied, "Very good!", and
the two shook hands.
and Brown became instant heroes. They traveled to England (not in their
Vimy, which was retrieved from the bog and repaired), and arrived at
the Royal Aero Club in London. There they delivered to General Holden,
vice-president of the Club, 197 letters entrusted to them by Dr.
Robinson, the Postmaster in Newfoundland. They carried stamps
overprinted in Newfoundland to indicate that they were being delivered
by air. The letters were rushed to the nearest Post Office, franked and
forwarded. Those stamps and covers are today amongst the most valuable
philatelic collectors' items, being the first trans-Atlantic air mail.
(They're also among the most forged - fakes are rife.)
and Brown were knighted by His Majesty George V, and received the
£10,000 Daily Mail prize, presented to them by the then Secretary of
State for War and Air, Winston Churchill.
also received a prize of 2,000 guineas (equal to £2,100) from the
Ardath Tobacco Company, and another of £1,000 from Lawrence R. Phillips
for being the first British subjects to fly the Atlantic. They gave
£2,000 of their prize money to the Vickers and Rolls-Royce mechanics
who had helped to prepare the Vimy for the flight.
of the original propellers was not returned, however. It is today used
as a ceiling fan in Luigi Malone's Restaurant in Cork City, Ireland.
Arthur Brown married soon after the flight, and he and his wife left
for the USA on honeymoon. Sir John Alcock did not long survive the
flight. He was killed in an aircraft accident at Cottevrard, France, on
December 18th, 1919, and was buried in England.
Brown never flew again. He survived World War II, dying in 1948 in Swansea, Wales.
and Brown inspired those who followed them. Charles Lindbergh, who made
the first solo crossing of the Atlantic from New York to Paris in 1927,
said when he landed in Paris, "Alcock and Brown showed me the way."
Sadly, in the USA, they are almost unknown today. Many Americans assume
(or are misinformed) that Lindbergh was the first to fly non-stop
across the Atlantic. He certainly made the first solo crossing, and the first between New York and Paris, but not the first non-stop Atlantic crossing.
video clip below shows the replica Vimy in flight earlier this year. If
it seems slow to you, remember that the Vimy's top speed was only 100
mph - no faster than many cars on our roads today, and slower than
quite a few of them!
SOME NINE decades
after the British aviators John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown flew across the Atlantic and
landed in a Connemara bog, their historic non-stop flight was
celebrated with an air show in Clifden, Co Galway, at the weekend.
The flight nearly ended in disaster several times owing to engine
trouble, fog, snow and ice. It was only saved by Brown's continual
climbing out on the wings to remove ice from the engine air intakes and
by Alcock's excellent piloting despite extremely poor visibility at
times and even snow filling the open cockpit. The aircraft was badly
damaged upon arrival due to the attempt to land in what appeared from
the air to be a suitable green field but which turned out to be the bog on Derrygimlagh Moor, but neither of the airmen was hurt.
world's only "formation" wing walking team, a jet display and a visit
by a replica of the Vimy Vickers model used by Alcock and Brown were
among highlights of the event atthe weekend, hosted by Connemara Chamber of Commerce.
we take transatlantic travel for granted, but in 1919, these men
undertook a dangerous, life-threatening trip which in time opened the
skies for us all," the chamber said in a statement.
a moment the hub of activity that was Connemara 90 years ago when these
two men literally dropped from the sky into the bog, and were able to
send a message from Marconi's wireless radio station to inform London
they had made it across the Atlantic - thus assuring themselves their
rightful place in history," said the chamber of commerce statement.
Alcock and Brown exhibition, by Connemara historian Kathleen
Villiers-Tuthill, and a ground display by the Defence Forces was also
part of the programme.
The Vimy Vickers replica was flown from
the Brooklands Museum in Surrey, England, to Connnemara by John Dodd
and Clive Edwards, landing at Galway Airport before flying west to
Two memorials commemorating the flight are found near the landing spot in County Galway, Ireland. The first is an isolated cairn four kilometres south of Clifden on the site of Marconi's
first transatlantic wireless station from which the aviators
transmitted their success to London, and around 500 metres from the
spot where they landed. In addition there is a sculpture of an
aircraft's tail-fin on Errislannan Hill two kilometres north of their
landing spot, dedicated on the fortieth anniversary of their landing, June 15, 1959.
Memorial, County Galway
A third monument marks the flight's starting point in Newfoundland.
A Shirl was modified with extended wings and a huge external fuel tank
to produce the Short Shamrock, of which only one was built. The
underslung fuel tank can be seen in the photograph below.
The Shamrock was powered by a Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII
engine, which was one of the most reliable aircraft engines of its day.
Carrying a total of 435 gallons of fuel, it had a theoretical range of
over 3,000 miles.
On April 18th, 1919, the Shamrock took off
from Eastchurch in England to fly across the Irish Sea to The Curragh,
Ireland, on the first leg of its trans-Atlantic flight attempt.
Unfortunately, the engine failed 12 miles out to sea. The pilot, Major
J. C. P. Wood, attempted to glide back to land, but was forced to ditch
the aircraft in the sea a mile off Anglesey. The aircraft remained
afloat, and was towed to the beach, but could not be repaired quickly.
After another team successfully flew the Atlantic, it was dismantled.
"The Senator Sure Knows How to Pick an Investment." say his enemies at the Wall Street Journal
property prices have plummeted since 2002. But a "cottage" in County
Galway owned by Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd has tripled in value
during the same period, according to a financial disclosure form filed
by the Senator this month.
There are two possible explanations for this remarkable turn of
fortune. Maybe Mr. Dodd is luckier than a leprechaun. Or could it be
that he paid well below the market price when he bought out a co-owner
in 2002 and had undervalued the property accordingly? If it's the
latter, then Mr. Dodd received a "gift," in IRS parlance, and should
have declared it on his financial disclosure form that year. He did
not. Oh, and by the way, the seller at that low, low price has been the
business partner of a man for whom Mr. Dodd lobbied to receive a
It's also been nearly a year since a former loan officer at
Countrywide Financial charged that the mortgage lender had classified
Mr. Dodd as a "very important person" (a.k.a., a "friend of Angelo"
Mozilo, Countrywide's then-CEO). As such, Robert Feinberg said, Mr.
Dodd received -- and knew he'd received -- preferential rates and fees
on two mortgages he and his wife refinanced in 2003. As a power on the
Senate Banking Committee, he also knew this was a conflict of interest.
This was the era when Countrywide originated and then sold to Fannie
Mae high volumes of subprime loans.
The SEC charged Mr. Mozilo with fraud and insider trading earlier
this month, and the Los Angeles Times reported in May that there is an
FBI investigation which "includes a probe of [Countrywide's] role in an
influence-peddling scandal involving" Mr. Dodd. The Senate Ethics
Committee won't comment on its own investigation of almost a year.
Mr. Dodd denies receiving any special treatment, and nearly a year
ago he promised to release the Countrywide mortgage documents and clear
up the matter. We are still waiting, though he did attempt to placate
the Connecticut press with a peek-a-boo release of a few select
documents and a review by his own lawyers in February.
Now the Irish cottage on 10 scenic acres is bringing more trouble.
At the start of the Irish real estate boom in 1994, Mr. Dodd bought the
property with William Kessinger for $160,000. Mr. Kessinger has been a
business partner of Edward Downe, who is a longtime friend of Mr.
Dodd's. In 1986 Messrs. Dodd and Downe owned a condominium together in
Washington. In 1993 Mr. Downe pleaded guilty to insider trading and
securities fraud and in 2001, as Bill Clinton was preparing to leave
the White House, Mr. Dodd successfully lobbied to get his friend a
The following year, 2002, Mr. Dodd bought out Mr. Kessinger's
two-thirds share in the house and became the full owner. Mr. Dodd
reported to the Irish government that he paid Mr. Kessinger $122,351,
and Mr. Dodd says that a bank appraisal that same year valued the
property at $190,000. From 2002 to 2007 Mr. Dodd reported its worth at
between $100,001 and $250,000 on his annual Senate financial disclosure
But Hartford Courant columnist Kevin Rennie began digging this year
into the mismatch between what Mr. Dodd paid to Mr. Downe's business
partner to become a full owner and what the property in Ireland was
likely worth in 2002 amid the Irish land boom. Last week, when Mr. Dodd
filed his annual financial disclosure form, it included a new appraisal
from the same appraiser putting the current value of the house at
In an effort to explain the gain despite the fact that the Irish
housing market has since gone south, a spokesman for the Senator said
that "The value of the cottage, or of Irish real estate generally,
isn't something that the Dodds have thought much about." However,
according to Galway County records, Mr. Dodd was so uninterested in the
value of those 10 acres that he tried to subdivide the property in 1998
and put up another house. No doubt because he had no idea what it was,
or would be, worth.
The Senate's financial disclosure forms are supposed to be a tool of
honest government, and former Senator Ted Stevens was indicted for
allegedly false disclosures. Mr. Dodd's miraculous property reappraisal
is further grist for Senate and Justice investigators -- and especially
for voters in 2010.
Question: So, you were a Lobster fisherman in your youth, what was that like?
I was a lobster fisherman for about two years when I was about sixteen.
We'd go out in a currach, which is a traditional rowing boat. We'd drop
the pots, of various different types, in the hope to find a lobster, or
ten, when we'd return the next day. Back then everyone lived off the
sea... and back then the lobsters were more plentiful. I have wonderful
memories of those days. We all have a great connection here with the
Question: The sailboats we see in the video, these are unique to this part of Ireland, right?
That's the Galway hooker; you'll find them all along the coast from
Galway city to Connemara. All those boats you see are built by hand
here in Connemara. They were mainly used for transporting goods from
village to village or to the city.
Question: Tell me more about the Worm's Hole; I'm fascinated by this...
Isn't it amazing; I mean where you would find it! Divers have come here
from America, France, Australia and they drop into the worms' hole and
not one has touched the bottom. It's a mystery. That's nature for you.
Question: What is the most ideal time of year to visit the Connemara coastline?
The middle of July, when the sky is clear and blue, and the sea, the
same. There's no place on earth as nice. It's heaven. But, if you get
clear day in winter, it's just as amazing.
Question: You grew up here; all this open landscape is your backyard...
I did, and you can walk for miles through these fields and nobody will
bother you. If you have the stamina, there's a boreen nearby in
Rossaveal that leads to a Martello tower - a round tower with cannon on
the roof - just by the edge of the sea. The tower has been there since
the 1850's, it must be the only one along the west coast. It has a well
inside it. Most of these towers are museums in other countries; here
you'd hardly know it existed. It's not advertised. This whole area is
Question: I'm very interested in the coral sand beach...
It's in Carraroe...one of only two coral beaches in Ireland. The other
one is supposed to be in Kerry, but nobody's ever seen it, so I
wonder... but this is a pure coral beach and it's absolutely just
beautiful. I must do more research on coral beaches in Ireland; there's
not been any research on this that I'm aware of...