Short Documentary Review: Sober Minds

This smart new offering from Charlo Johnson is a stand out piece of documentary filmmaking. Charlo’s hard work and dedication to the art is evident in all 17 minutes of this ode to the trials of urban life; both human and animal.

Widely acclaimed and published Nature Photographer, Paul Hughes is our urban safari guide; with photographs syndicated throughout Europe, America and Asia, we learn that Paul rates getting onto the front page of the Irish papers and the response he gets from an Irish audience as the best thrill.

Along with insights into his stunning work, we learn about Paul’s personal life, growing up in Dublin, the sacrifices he’s made and why he now likes sober minds.

With award winning cinematography from Andrei Ghenoside and Jaroslava Waldeck, editing by Mark Gilleece and illustrations from Toshiki Nakamura; Sober Minds is a visually superb film.

The ethereal sounds of Rob Smith’s Swedish Orchestra (with a brief interjection by Ministry) give this film a therapeutic quality and a feeling that at the end of the 17 minutes we’ve all been on a journey of discovery.

I highly recommend this film and know that all involved are destined for great things.


Watch the Sober Minds trailer here.

For more information on Sober Minds including information on screenings please click here.



Taste of Cavan #tasteofcavan #Cavan #discoverireland #thisiscavan 

Tasty bit of Cavan. Image copyright Julie Corcoran.

Each year the Taste of Cavan grows just that little bit tastier; filling three indoor arenas at the Cavan Equestrian Centre just off the N3. 

But come early, the huge free carpark fills quickly and with enough to interest the whole family for a full day, very few cars leave before late afternoon. 

Taste of Cavan, 12th & 13th August 2016.

Gone Viral review.

No, this review hasn’t gone viral, but the lads behind the Vine account Fupin EEjits have.

With followers in the hundreds of thousands; Senan Byrne and Eddie Whelan are the international social media sensation you’ve probably never heard of, unless you Vine.


Senan Byrne’s profile on Vine.

Thankfully director Charlo Johnson’s latest offering, Gone Viral, gives this pair of psychiatric nurses an opportunity  to explain the who, what, when of Vine and how going viral has affected them both in a positive sense (direct messages from Swedish models) and in a negative way (Eddie’s nose apparently gets a lot of flack).

Gone Viral

Gone Viral publicity poster.

Narrated by Senan and Eddie themselves, the film feels like you’re sitting in a pub with the lads sharing a pint.

Gone Viral reveals more about the psyche of the 21st century bearded Irish male than a Snapchat from last year’s Leprechaun convention on Croagh Patrick.

The film premiered in July at the Galway Film Fleadh before making its way to the amazing Guth Gafa International Documentary Festival in August.

At only eighty Vines long, Gone Viral is definitely worth a watch, toilet humour aside, they’re very funny guys.




66 Days, the film review


Bobby Sands Rhythm of Time portrait I did a couple of years ago.

Brendan J Byrne’s latest film, 66 Days, is a documentary about the hunger-striker, Bobby Sands.  HD images of marching bands and garish seventies dance clips, juxtaposed with shaky archive footage and interviews create the narrative while haunting animations illustrate Bobby’s words from his diary;

“I had a visit this morning with two reporters, David Beresford of The Guardian and Brendan Ó Cathaoir of The Irish Times. Couldn’t quite get my flow of thoughts together. I could have said more in a better fashion”. Bobby Sands, 3rd March 1981.

Ó Cathaoir is interviewed for the film. As a journalist, he laments, he always endeavoured to aggrieve the comfortable while comforting the aggrieved.

Fintan O’Toole’s distinctive voice also adds a liberal credence to the film;

“It is not those who can inflict the most but those who can suffer the most that will win” Fintan O’Toole paraphrasing Cork Mayor, Terence MacSwiney, who died on hunger strike in 1920.


As the film presents testimonies from both sides of the conflict, the narrative regularly refers back to MacSwiney’s observations on suffering as if to ask the audience; who is suffering here? Who is doing the inflicting?

Over the course of the film we learn that the act of hunger-striking dates back in Irish culture over a thousand years, designed to empower the oppressed by shaming the oppressor. Along with exploring the physical effects of starvation on the human body, we learn, through Bobby’s own words, the mental suffering also endured;

“The body fights back sure enough, but at the end of the day everything returns to the primary consideration, that is, the mind. The mind is the most important”. Bobby Sands, 17th March 1981.

This documentary is very well put together and though I know Brendan, the director, was disappointed he didn’t get a chance to feature more of the women in Bobby’s life, it’s understandable seeing as the events are still controversial and painful for many people involved (two middle-aged men either side of me were in tears at the Guth Gafa screening I attended).

Having said that, 66 Days is an absorbing, intense film that I hope many audiences of all ages (not just in Ireland), will get a chance to see.


The Art of Thatching in Kilmore Quay.

In the fishing village of Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford you’ll find the most beautiful collection of traditionally thatched cottages.

I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of how this village maintains its crowning glory as local thatcher, Vinny, set to work on replacing a thatch ridge ahead of the Kilmore Quay Seafood Festival. 

There is a Go Fund Me campaign set up to fund a documentary on thatching in the area, click here for details.

Kells Hay Festival

Replacing a thatch ridge using traditional methods. Image ©Julie Corcoran 2016.

Hay Festival – Kells 2016

Hay Festival Kells.

I’m betting you’ve heard of the book of Kells housed in Trinity College Dublin. A mecca for tourists for decades, but I wonder how many have ever made the pilgrimage to the County Meath town of Kells itself?

Well can I recommend wholeheartedly that you visit Kells during its annual June festival for all things literary, The Hay Festival.

The four day programme has over eighty events (closer to one hundred I’m guessing) spread over half a dozen venues around the town. Empty shops are turned into rare book emporiums and you get the distinct impression that there are book deals being done over scones and pots of Barry’s tea in the numerous independently run coffee shops.

Be warned, this is not a ‘Temple Bar’ type booze fest, this gathering, according to the brochure, throws its doors open to ‘writers, readers, to thinkers and dreamers, to the open minded and big hearted lovers of stories and ideas‘.

Kells Hay Festival

International best selling author, Zlata Filipović signing copies of her book with renowned American playwright, Matthew Spangler in the background on Saturday 25th June 2016. Image ©JulieCorcoran.

Kells Hay Festival

Michael Carroll, author of the Young Heroes series and successful scriptwriter for comics and graphic novels photographed before his talk on Saturday 25th June 2016. Image ©JulieCorcoran.


Paul Bolger

Kells Hay Festival

Paul Bolger has worked on classic animated films in the past. His current project Hound co-written with Barry Devlin involves a trilogy of graphic novels with plans for a film. Photographed at his talk on Saturday 25th June, image ©JulieCorcoran.

If you have ever been, or if you ever go to the Hay Festival in Kells you will undoubtedly have your eyes opened to something new (with such a varied programme of events it is inevitable).  Mixed in with American playwrights and award winning novelists you’ll find young adult writers, animators, illustrators and graphic novel scriptwriters.

Enter Paul Bolger and Barry Devlin with their graphic novel trilogy, Hound.

With decades of experience behind them and similar ambitions to bring the story of Cú Chulainn to a mass audience, Paul and Barry struck up a creative partnership that has grown into the team behind Hound.

Paul explained that initially Kickstarter was used to fund the first book in the series. He shared a video made for the project’s investors which very aptly listed all the things Hound is not; it is not about castles, dragons or leprechauns…definitely not leprechauns, which met with laughter from the audience. He then went on to describe what Hound is; Apocalypto meets Last of the Mohicans, meets House of Flying Daggers.

Kells Hay Festival

Barry Devlin. Image ©JulieCorcoran.

One element of this project that really struck me as refreshing was Paul’s attention to detail when it came creating the world of the Ulster Cycle. All his designs for objects like drinking vessels, jewellery and weaponry for the characters are based on real museum pieces from around 2,000 years ago (think Newgrange era).

So the big question is, will Paul, Barry and the team succeed where others have failed?

or will the Irish Film Board’s shelf labelled dog boy finally collapse under the weight of another parked Cú Chulainn project?

I sincerely hope not. To see the story of Cú Chulainn on the big screen would vindicate every small production company here in Ireland that dared to dream big.

In conclusion

For me, the Hay Festival Kells is a must attend event. I can’t put it any clearer than that.

Poet Valentine Neary #rip


“…as the lank ferns congregating on verges

to make of my passing a tendril instant all their own,

draping me in meshes of green nerved light

– vestments for the journey, this parting now

of leaves wide on sensation, brimming with

a marvellous forever and sudden as sunlight on still lake water.”

‘Song for the Moment’, by Valentine Neary. Taken from his 2001 collection entitled ‘Easy Among Drumlins and other poems.’

Born in Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin, Valentine Neary abandoned ‘a life of idiot urgency for the hills, the grass and small skies of Monaghan’ where he passed from this life on the 7th April 2016. Condolences to his family and friends.