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Katrina Costello of Silver Branch Films at Clencurran Cave in the Burren. The Burren Heart Of Stone series is premiering throughput the US this month with a prospective audience of 200 million. Photograph by John Kelly

Burren documentary to air to US audience of millions


A DOCUMENTARY about the Burren that captivated Irish audiences on its release has begun a run on US television with the potential to reach up to 200 million people.
Burren: Heart of Stone cast new light on our understanding of the region, presenting evidence of human activity in Ireland 20,000 years earlier than previously known.

Narrated by multi-award winning actor Brendan Gleeson, the show is a two-part documentary that captured an unprecedented audience of one million people when it premiered on RTE.

The two-part series created by film maker Katrina Costello, of Silver Branch Films will be broadcast to 90% of US households to 200 million people on Public Broadcasting TV station over a 12-month period.

“The audience reach in the States will be massive, a predicted 200,000,000 people will watch it in the next 12 months. I imagine people will long to come here,” said Katrina.

The programme will get repeated airings in every part of the USA and will enjoy prime time exposure on Earth Day, April 22. It will continue to be screened on the network for the next 12 months.

Speaking about the programme’s viewers, Katrina said, “I see them making their way over greenways and rugged tracks the way their ancestors might have done. I see them standing on the shoreline, gulping great lungs full of salty air, contemplating what and who tread these paths before them.

“I hope my work will inspire these visitors in recognising the immeasurable value in treading delicately on their way, resonating in nature with a deeper understanding of the fragility of our wonderful wildlife networks.”

“The most striking thing for me about the Burren, is that both the landscape and the people of the Burren have evolved to be shaped and dependent of and on each other, like no other place in the world.

“All around us we have evidence of our ancestors, not just in the tombs, forts, stone walls and holy wells but in the fields, the woodlands and here in this cave,” she said from Glencurran Cave.

“We have evidence of people who went seeking enlightenment during the last climatic downturn, which was roughly 3000 years ago.

“Untangling all these mysteries, is a highly complicated affair, but our cast of local experts are at the leading edge of discovery and share these amazing insights that are endlessly fascinating.”

“For me the most important task now, is to manage sustainable ecotourism and I am collaborating with the Burren Ecotourism Network who can bring visitors into the landscape, accommodate their stay and make it a wholesome experience.”

Áine Bird, Coordinator of Burrenbeo Trust said, “This film is an extraordinary achievement as it gives a rare and beautiful glimpse of the natural heritage of the Burren and the human story that shaped it since the prehistoric times.

“While undoubtedly drawing more visitors to the region, we hope it will encourage people to learn more about this landscape and support local efforts in sustainability and conservation in the region.

“We welcome support from locals and visitors alike, through donations and membership, all proceeds from which go directly into the 25+ programmes we run throughout the year, connecting people to their place and their role in looking after it.”

Jarlath O’Dwyer, CEO of Burren EcoTourism network said: “We are delighted to work with Katrina Costello to promote this this excellent documentary to the international audience on the PBS Network.

“From a tourism perspective, this is a great opportunity to showcase the Burren region to the North American market. The footage captures the essence of the natural environment in a way the many have never seen, while the information delivered by the experts who are interviewed is truly astounding.

“We already know that there is a huge appetite among Americans to reconnect with their Irish and European heritage, and Burren Heart of Stone is a real window to the distant past for them.

“Katrina’s film delves deep, revealing details about the genetic story of the Irish people in a vivid and fascinating way.

“We are confident that given the huge Irish diaspora, this film will have an international appeal, and will motivate people to visit the Burren.”

In the programme, Dr Lara Cassidy Genealogist, Trinity College Dublin states there were three distinct migrations of people into Ireland in prehistory.

“What we discovered is that Irish Hunter gatherer, that lived here 10,000 years ago, did not look like the people that we see today, they had dark to black skin and light blue eyes,” she says.
Dr Ruth Carden, Consultant Palaeontologist comments on an archaeological discovery which she says “changes Irish human history”.

“It means we have humans coming into Ireland 33,000 years ago, which changes everything for Ireland and changes north western Europe as a whole.”

Katrina’s next move will be to another Kingdom, with confirmation this week that she has been commissioned for a project in Kerry. In the meantime, the Burren programs are available on demand at here

US audiences can enter their zip code into www.silverbranch.ie to learn when the programmes are screening their state.

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