Paul Horan, Writer/Director of ‘Bless Me Father’


In a small Irish town where secrets are rare, a local man goes to church to confess his.


Film Ireland absolves writer / director Paul Horan ahead of Bless Me Father‘s screening at the Cork Film Festival.


How would you describe the film?
It’s a fairly dramatic piece, but with a healthy dose of dark humour and cynicism in there too. It takes place in the sort of small Irish town where everyone knows each other – and more importantly – each other’s business. One man with a bit of a chip on his shoulder uses the ritual of confession to rope the local priest into a very specific conversation on his own terms. Of course, it develops into a chat that could change both of their lives.
You wrote it yourself – how did it all come about?
I probably see myself as a writer first and foremost. After noodling around with a few feature scripts, I found that, at times ,I was writing too much plot, and not enough character, so this become something of a challenge to myself. To write something with limitations on the physical, where the story could only move forward and develop through the characters conversation. I also wanted to have something reasonably easy to shoot – though initially I intended to find someone else to do that. The script ended up doing fairly well with a few festival awards. So I ended up chatting to other filmmakers at those who gave me the kick up the arse I needed, and told me to just go do it myself. From there, the brilliant producers Dawn Mac Allister and Michael Donnelly were fantastic with helping me put all the pieces together.

It’s quite a theatrical script – can you tell us about your writing process?

Trial and error mostly! Given the set-up, it needed to be fairly theatrical in appearance anyway – two fella’s having a chat side by side. But I was very conscious of it developing into melodrama, which I really wanted to avoid. For the most part, at each stage of the story I just tried to empathize with the characters, put myself in their shoes, with their experiences, and see how it might naturally unfold. I’d often find myself driving somewhere, and think “ah Christ, no, Michael would never have done that!”, and have to stop and write a few notes in my phone before I forgot!

There are great central performances – how did you go about casting and end up getting Francis Magee, Phelim Drew, and Glynis Casson on board?

With so much riding on performance, we decided early on to be patient, and get the very best folks for the job. After looking around, Louise Kiely casting came on board. Eva-Jane Gaffney in particular did some brilliant work in tying everything up. Once we locked in on our targets, we approached the two lads on the same day, and thankfully they both said yes. Glynis came on board shortly after to complete the perfect trio.


It’s beautifully lit and makes the most of tight spaces – can you tell us about working with Eimear Ennis Graham and what she brought to the project?

Eimear was fantastic altogether. Particularly as it was my first project, I really wanted someone beside me who knew all the technical stuff that I didn’t. She made the whole process just so much easier than it could have been. First, in brainstorming as we traded reference images and nailed down exactly how we wanted it to look and feel. And then once we actually got to set, her confidence and ability meant everything was cool and calm and under control throughout. A special mention to Mike Fitzpatrick also, who built the confession box itself. The options and angles he planned for, with removable panels, allowed Eimear to get her camera wherever she needed to, to best capture the three performances.


You must be excited to be screening at Cork?

Yeah, absolutely… it’s 6 years ago now that I left Cork for Los Angeles, so it’s lovely to be screening my first film back home. It was only after I left that I got into writing professionally, so I’d never had any experience of production in Ireland. That made shooting back home all the more interesting – the familiar environment, but in a totally new context.


Delighted my family and friends, and as many of the crew as can make it, can see it on the big screen for the first time right along with me.


Bless Me Father screens as part of Irish Shorts 1 – It’s good to talk at 11:45am on 11th November in the Gate at the Cork Film Festival (10 – 19 November)



Bless Me Father

Paul Horan / Ireland / 2017 / 15 mins

In a small Irish town where secrets are rare, a local man goes to church to confess his.

Producer Dawn Mac Allister


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Preview of Irish Film @ Cork Film Festival