If you missed part one of Garry Keane’s brilliant documentary, Gaeil Nua Eabhrac (The Irish New Yorkers), about the Irish in New York on Sunday night, don’t despair. Part 2 will be broadcast tomorrow night at 7.30 on TG4. And you can watch the first episode on TG4 Player at www.tg4.ie.
Garry was born and raised in Ballyshannon and now lives in Barnesmore with his wife Alison and their family. The couple run the production company Real Films, which specialises in making documentaries. They were recently in the spotlight when their documentary about writer Dermot Healy “The Writing in the Sky” was nominated for four IFTA’s and won two. Gerry was named Best Director Television while Killian Fitzgerald and Aza Hand took the honours for Best Sound Television.
The couple are certainly not resting on their laurels! Gaeil Nua Eabhrac uses the 250th anniversary of the New York St Patrick’s Day Parade last year to examine the modern realities of the Irish in New York.
The story is weaved through the eyes and the real life stories of first, second and third generation Irish Americans living in New York today and the new Irish immigrants of the last 20 years, including a number from Donegal.
One of the highlights of the first episode was the classic line “When I came to America I thought the streets were paved with gold. I soon realized that not only were they not paved with gold, but they weren’t paved at all and it was my job to pave them!”
We see the challenge of taking on a new identity without losing the old one through the eyes and the real life stories of first, second and third generation Irish Americans.
Through them, we go behind the scenes of the world of Irish America, the institutions that have lined out for 250 years in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade - the NYPD, the FDNY, the GAA, the Church, Politics and the Arts - and the world of the Irish in New York today.
Irish American community
The documentary brings audiences to the very heart of the Irish American community in New York, at a period like no other in its history.
It’s the unique story of a people who fought hard to create the most successful Irish society abroad and those today with its future in their hands.
In Part 1, we met: Cha Connaughton from Dunmore who owns a successful construction business in Queens but still follows the football, the rugby and everything Irish; Marie McGuinness from Kilcar, who works two jobs to give her daughters a good life; Susan McKeown, a Grammy award-winning performer; author Colin Broderick, who describes the 80s drinking culture in New York; and Tommy Smyth, a Louth man who is one of the most well-known faces on ESPN.
In Part 2, we are back with the Irish New Yorkers as the city prepares for its biggest St Patrick’s Day Parade ever. We meet: Padraig O’Cearuill, a native of Gweedore, who is a lecturer in NYU and a traditional Irish musician; Hilary Mhic Suibhne, a graphic artist and blogger; Donal O’Sullivan on the site of the 9/11 memorial which he helped build; and finally, Aggie McCaffrey, who shares with us the last heroic moments of her brother Fire Chief Orio Palmer.
And we can expect more quality documentaries from Gerry and his team at Real Films in the near future. He’s currently back in the USA filming Hanging From the Rafters, a basketball documentary for Setanta Sports channel.
Then he’s off to India to film a feature length documentary called Broken Tail 2 for the BBC Natural World Channel. Garry will be living with and filming tigers on a reserve in India to tell the story of the world’s most famous tiger as she come to the end of her life.