Monday, May 5, 2014

#1,358. Over Ireland (1998)

Written By: John O'Donoghue

Starring: Brian Munn

Trivia: This documentary was originally broadcast on U.S. Public Television

Years ago, I was fortunate enough to visit Ireland for a couple of days, and the image that’s stayed with me since that time was how it looked from the air. As our plane was coming in for a landing at Shannon airport, I couldn’t help but notice the various shades of green scattered all over the landscape, each separated from the others by a man-made stone wall. Never before had I seen so many different shades of that color, and it took my breath away. In 1998’s Over Ireland, I got a chance to visit this beautiful island once again, and from that same vantage point: hundreds of feet in the air.

An hour-long documentary that originally played on public television, Over Ireland takes us on an aerial tour of the Emerald Isle, from one end to the other. Aided by narrator Brian Munn, the film also introduces us to Ireland’s rich past, visiting historical landmarks like the Rock of Cashel, a castle-like structure that served as the traditional seat of the Kings of Munster (St. Patrick himself supposedly spent time there); and Glendalough, a valley in County Wicklow that houses a Monastery dating back to the 6th Century. Along with the history, we see the island’s natural beauty, like the Cliffs of Moher and the Shannon River, and even look in on the odd sporting event, watching football in Dublin’s Croke Park and a Kilkenny hurling match featuring the local team, The Cats. And, of course, no tour of Ireland would be complete without Dublin’s world famous Guinness Brewery!

Normally, these aerial documentaries leave me a little cold, mostly because they only view their subjects from a distance, never bothering to go in for a “closer look”. But Over Ireland, with its awesome imagery and Celtic score (composed by an artist named Rojo, and featuring the original song “I Will”, performed by Joanne Johnston), proved a fascinating journey, and has me itching to visit the Emerald Isle once again.

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