Professor Farrel Corcoran and actor Stephen Rea launched a new book on Irish Documentary in the United Arts Club, 3 Fitzwilliam Street last Thursday, 16th February.
Documentary in a Changing State is the first book to bring together the stories of documentary makers who changed the course of Irish society.
Told in vivid first-hand descriptions, the collection of accounts is edited by Carol MacKeogh and Díóg O’Connell of IADT (Institute of Art Design and Technology, Dun Laoghaire).
Dr MacKeogh explains, ‘This book brings alive the stories of key documentary makers for film and television since the 1990s – from the veteran social commentators, Louis Lentin and Mary Raftery, whose work shone a light into dark hidden parts of Irish society, to Ken Wardrop, the new kid on the block, whose sensitive work explores the peculiarity of Irish family bonds.
Dr O’Connell adds , ‘The book captures many perspectives, including a vivid account of the pressures and strains of documentary making for programmes such as Prime Time and Would You Believe, an analysis of the role of documentary in healing wounds in Northern Ireland and an exploration of the more subversive nature of documentaries in the Irish language. These are coupled with more reflective pieces, such as those by Alan Gilsenan on the ethics of documentary making, and Donald Taylor Black’s and Kevin Rafter’s pieces on the relationship between RTÉ and the Independent documentary makers.
In an interview for the book, the late Mary Raftery looks back over her own contribution and reflects on television documentary since the 1990s, ‘It is a combination of multiple testimonies with historical research – which is at its most powerful in television. Its power lies in the unique capacity of television to breathe life into the historical research, into the material unearthed in documents, by combining this with the testimonies of individuals who directly experienced what archives only touch on ‘
Miriam O’Callaghan, RTÉ broadcaster, describes the book as a fascinating insight into the working life of documentary makers – it captures the passion that drives them, the commitment they make to their craft, and the issues they tackle in defining what constitutes documentary – indeed, what constitutes good documentary.
Contributors: Brian Winston, Mary Raftery, Alan Gilsenan, Louis Lentin, Julian Vignoles, Máire Kearney, Donald Taylor Black, Kevin Rafter, Ruth Lysaght , Rachel Lysaght, Pat Brereton, Ken Wardrop, Alan Maher, Harvey O’Brien , Alan Grossman, Jolene Mairs , Cahal McLaughlin, Desmond Bell
Documentary in a Changing State: Ireland since the 1990s is edited by Carol MacKeogh and Díóg O’Connell of IADT, Dun Laoghaire and published by Cork University Press.