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Community’s history comes back to life on the big screen

Kevin Dunleavy is interviewed and filmed by members of the Lough Graney Youth Project: Alana Moroney, Sharon Keane, Cassie Comeford, Ciara McNamara, Joanna Kenny, Stephen Kenny and artist Hilary Dully. Photograph by  Declan MonaghanIt was lights, camera, action in the twin parish of Flagmount Killanena in 2009 when young and old were involved in capturing on film the history, folklore and tales of a bygone era.
This weekend however, all will be revealed, as the public learn all there is to know about the area at the premier screening of Inside Out: A Film About our Parish, in Glór, Ennis this Saturday.
Lough Graney Youth Club were thrilled to be awarded an AIB Better Ireland Award last year and were even more ecstatic to learn that their idea of creating a documentary about their community could become a reality. Having set the wheels in motion and with the help and guidance of project co-ordinator Kathleen McNamara, artist in residence, Hilary Dully, and her husband Joe Comerford, the members of the youth club learned all there was to know about operating a camera, sound, lighting and interview techniques.
It was a daunting task and a long process but rewarding for those involved, who got to know their neighbours a little better and helped boost community spirit.
Each of the members of the youth group, who range in age from 13 to 18, took on a role in the production. One of the interviewers Stephen Canny, explained how the idea for the film came about.
“We had a camera workshop before we entered the competition and that’s when we decided we’d like to make a film. We talked to people who had lived in the parish until they were 19 or 20 and then came back later on in life. We asked them what the differences were and they said that in the parish everyone knew their business but they liked going somewhere else where they weren’t known. However, they came back because there’s a sense of community in the parish; everyone knows everyone else and because of a sense of pride. We interviewed people who had just moved in to see how they settled into the parish. We found there were people we didn’t know before. They all had their own stories. They had some funny stories, stories about folklore, banshees and matchmaking. They told us that in the pubs they used to have a different room for women. We didn’t know that before,” he said.
Some members of the community were passionate about telling their stories, of what life was like without modern utilities. Producer Alanna Moroney and interviewer ,Stephen Canny recall one such interview. 
“It was very emotional for this lady talking about growing up and what she had to do. It really hit home for us. We had never heard those things before,” Alanna commented.
“She talked about having no electricity and about the first day they got water into the house. She said it was better than winning the lotto. We had heard the stories before but when you see people getting emotional then it comes across very clearly that it was a really tough time for them and we have it easy,” Stephen said.
Learning the tricks of the trade was no easy task but according to Hilary, the teenagers took to it like ducks to water.
“One of the things that was surprising was how quickly they became a film crew. They were amazing. I think they picked it up very well with something like sound, which is often underestimated but you only realise how important it is when you start to edit it. If there’s a sound problem, it’s unusable. But they understood how important it was and they knew they had to think about sound in a different way,” Hilary said.
Vashti Curran, another interviewer, said, “We got the experience of being interviewed ourselves and we were put on the spot and through that we got to know what the interviewees would experience. You have to remember the techniques we learned and you don’t always think of those things when everyone is watching you. So we understood what people would expect.” 
Hilary highlighted the level of commitment given by the youth group. “There were long days of work during the summer and when they could have been in bed but they worked really hard  and showed up to all the meetings. They were also great ambassadors for the community. Young people are our greatest resource and I feel that in a community, it is important to have a vibrant young group of people.
“Overall, I think it’s a really nice film and it will also be very interesting to people outside here. It’s a portrait of a small rural community and in terms of capturing the past and it being a traditional farming community, it’s nice to document these aspects.”
Kathleen McNamara explains how the name Inside Out was chosen.
“Basically, it’s Killanena Flagmount inside out. It’s about living in the community looking out and the people who live outside looking into the community. It’s told from different viewpoints, from the perspective of people living in the community and what the community means to them and it shows the people on the outside what the community is about. That’s where it came from,” she said.
“A lot of people have seen the youth in a different light from this. Young people can be labelled in the same vein as antisocial behaviour and I think people are absolutely amazed with the youth in the parish, what a good bunch they are and how mannerly they are. It has worked really well that way and has made people realise how much the youth can offer to the community.”
She also said that much of the project was down to the expertise of Hilary and her husband, Joe. “That is one of the great things about someone moving into the area, they can bring so much in, 20 years ago, you would never have a filmmaker in the community and it is great that they are so willing to give back to the community,” Kathleen said.
Following the undertaking, at least one budding filmmaker has taken flight as Eoin Comerford, who directed the film, has gone on to study filming.
“He has a great future, he was very particular about the shots. He wasn’t sticking people anywhere and he knew how it should be framed,” Hilary said.
Asked what the youth group felt they got out of the documentary, Eoin’s brother, Danny, said, “It’s very good for our CVs and it’s good for our leadership skills and social skills. We got to know people better and got to talk to them.
“Before, you’d say ‘hi’ and that was it. Some people were a bit hesitant but people were glad to be involved. They told us their stories about how life has changed.”
Can we expect a sequel? “Maybe in 20 years,” they all hummed together.
“We had good days and bad days. It was a long process. Meetings would be topical and heated. But what was good was before you might only see your friends every few weeks but when we were doing the film, we saw each other every week and it kept us together,” Stephen Canny added.
A tea and coffee reception at 7.15pm will be followed by the film screening at 8pm. Admission is free and all are welcome.


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