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Pat Collins’ meditative essay follows in the tradition of great state-of-the-nation explorations like Peter Lennon’s seminal Rocky Road to Dublin (1968) and Alan Gilsenan’s The Road to God Knows Where (1988).

Essentially structured as a series of conversations on modern Ireland and what might best be described as the Irish condition, What We Leave… invites us to muse upon the bigger picture in an age where long-term thinking is thin on the ground, and knee-jerk over-opinionating drowns out anything resembling sensible discourse.

Collins takes the quiet approach – all the better to get to the heart of the matter. Thusly, the array of topics to hand here is formidable: emigration, mythology, consumerism, socialism, the place of the Church in Irish life, the central role of land in Irish history, and the sense of a civic society, or lack thereof. Contributors range from Olivia O’Leary and Declan Kiberd to (via choice archive footage) Johns McGahern and Moriarty. The results are utterly compelling, resulting in one of the key Irish films of recent years.

This film is screening as part of the IFI’s season, Poetic Truths: The Cinema of Pat Collins (August 4th – 21st).


70 minutes, Ireland, 2010, Digi-beta


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