O’ Bhéal go Beal un Nollag – Christmas a Long Time Ago.


As a Christmas Special ICC Digital is delighted to give you a rare chance to watch the very beautiful 30-minute Irish language documentary film from The Loopline Collection, “O’ Bhéal go Beal un Nollag – Christmas a Long Time Ago”.

So beautifully constructed, the film weaves Paddy Jordan’s sublime camera work and colour photography, (of frosty snow crusted Irish landscapes), with wonderful old black and white stills and moving footage, intertwined with heart-warming and evocative interviews with nine Irish Elders who each remember the Christmas of their childhoods.

Among them is the old Island woman from Connemara, who recollects how everyone on the Island would clean and whitewash their homes in preparation for Christmas. A teacher shares how Christmas back then was often a time when marriages were arranged and an elderly Irish man joyously harks back to the Christmas’ of his youth, when he was a Wren Boy.

This charming film transports us back across four generations to Irish Christmas’s long gone by, to the times when there were no Christmas trees, but instead the Holly and the Ivy; too the time long before electricity arrived in Ireland, when there were no fairy lights, but instead the natural, magical glow of lanterns, candle-light and the crackle of the fireside.

Christmas back then was not a time of commercialism, but instead a time for family, a time for visiting friends and neighbours where kindness, reflection and devotion prevailed. It was also a time of joy, a time of storytelling, jigs and reels, sharing food and a drop or two of the poteen, which was plentiful.  It was also a time when money was
scarce, but children were excited and grateful for the very small things which Santa Claus would bring them.

The idea for this delightful film came from the well-known Film Producer/ Director Vanessa Gildea, who approached Loopline Productions with the original concept. What’s so striking about it is its simplicity, both in the stories it tells and in the form it takes.  It’s so comforting, not only to watch but also to hear the Irish language spoke so beautifully. During these Coved days, it brings us back to times of innocence and instils a sense of warmth and hope and encourages us to contemplate on the true meaning of Christmas today.

O’ Bhéal go Beal un Nollag is part of the Loopline Collection and is stored in Irish Film Institute Archives.

Thanks to Sé Merry Doyle, Director of Loopline Film and the Irish Film Institute Dublin for permission to screen the Film