Rath is a personal story about one man’s relationship with the land and the past. A wealth of information is in danger of being lost, as knowledge which was always passed down orally through the years has never been recorded. Rath harnesses the strength of the past and helps preserve a legacy.
Director Mieke Vanmechelen takes us behind the scenes of her documentary.
I arrived in Ireland when I was six years old, and settled with my family on a farm in the Caha Mountains. I felt at home straight away, and though the ’80s were tough times, I had what I consider to be a very idyllic upbringing. Together with six neighbour girls, we had a kind of freedom which is not available to children anymore. Summers spent by the river and hikes over the mountain to the Lakes for trout fishing were formative experiences.
I never strayed far, spending four few years in Dublin studying, but returning and raising my own family in Kerry. I always felt drawn to the valley where I grew up and see it is a remote but rich microcosm. I work my own farm, combining this life with my career as an artist, which though challenging is extremely rewarding. Over the years I have seen many people leave and others fade into distant memory. The psychological landscape is changing, people go, communities die and we forget.
I have known Brendan O’Sullivan from childhood and have seen his family grow up. Brendan is the last person with a very particular kind of wisdom, born, bred and still living in the townland of Rath.
As his neighbour, I felt it was my duty to undertake the work of recording him as he walks his farm, a process which took over a year to complete. The film focuses on historical facts while there is an underlying personal story.
Many people collaborated and gave their time and knowledge willingly. I was lucky to have the involvement of Luka Bloom and traditional musicians and local singers adding a very emotive soundtrack. I got some help from Kerry County Council and was delighted to be included in the Dingle International Film Festival. Being a part of Kerry Film Festival is yet another bonus. As Kerry Filmmaker in Residence 2017 I’m travelling the county, encouraging young people by opening up filmmaking to then as a valuable source of visual expression. I am interested in the interconnectedness people have with place and the beauty that exists in the simple things.
Rath screens at the Kerry Film Festival @ 6pm on Saturday, 21st October at the Methodist Church, Killarney.
Kerry Film Festival runs from 19 – 22 October 2017