Irish Film Institute -The Great Book of Ireland

The Great Book of Ireland

Director: Alan Gilsenan

Renowned Irish documentarian Alan Gilsenan explores The Great Book of Ireland, a lavish vellum manuscript dubbed a “modern-day Book of Kells”. This extraordinary tome contains the original work of 9 composers, 121 artists and 144 poets including Eavan Boland, Samuel Beckett Seamus Heaney, and Michael D. Higgins, current President of Ireland.

The documentary investigates the conception and creation of the book in 1989 when editors Theo Dorgan and Gene Lambert invited contributors to capture the hopes, fears, dreams, and imaginings of the Ireland of that time. Artists, such as Patrick Scott and Pauline Bewick, worked directly onto the large vellum pages to create a work of beauty. There are layers of artistry to enjoy here, from the original work of the poets and painters, to the book makers, to the skilfully-crafted film itself.

Notes by Sunniva O’Flynn

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