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In Search of Ancient Ireland
Cartographer's Journey
Fortress Ireland
Culture and Commerce
About the Film
Lesson Plans

Companion Book & VHS

The companion book to IN SEARCH OF ANCIENT IRELAND, co-authored by Carmel McCaffrey and Leo Eaton, will be available in September 2002 from publisher Ivan R. Dee.

The VHS of the 3-part series is now available through ShopPBS.
About The Film: Filmmaker Q & A

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In this section:
About the Episodes
Filmmaker Q & A
Production Diaries
Broadcast Schedule
Web and TV Credits
Cu Chulainn
Cu Chulainn, Ireland's most famous figure, is probably entirely fiction.
Since the first era you cover took place before there was written communication, how did you piece the truth together?

I was fortunate to have the support of many of Ireland's greatest archeologists and historians. Irish written history only begins with the coming of Christianity in the 5th century, so there are thousands of years where one must rely on archeological evidence and -- to a certain degree -- the ancient Irish myths. But we have to be very careful with myths. While some may include fragments of genuine oral tradition, most are largely invention. Even Ireland's most famous figure, the heroic Cu Chulainn, is probably entirely fiction.

Was there a particular incident while you were filming that gave you a special glimpse into Ireland's past?

Lough Gur
The ancient stone circle at Lough Gur.
Perhaps the most memorable moment was the winter night we arrived at the ancient stone circle at Lough Gur and found a Druid ceremony going on. We hadn't expected it. It was cold, damp, and dark. Yet seeing the fire burning in the center of the circle while local villagers -- young and old -- celebrated a 2,000-year-old religious festival was like stepping back in time.

We got permission to film it, and people who see the show think we set it up. We didn't, we just happened on it accidentally, but it was a special experience, connecting us to a much more ancient past.

Having produced the series, how has your concept of Irish history and culture changed?

I was surprised at the richness of Irish history. We know much more about the great empires of the world, the Incas and Mayas, Greece, Rome, Egypt, China, and there's a tendency to think that nothing worthwhile happened outside the great urban civilizations. But throughout most of history, most people didn't live in empires. They lived in tribal cultures just like the ones in Ireland. So as I studied and filmed early Irish history, I realized that I was looking at a way of life more like the way most people in the world lived for much of humanity's existence. And it was so much richer than I could ever have imagined.

Ireland is a unique culture in Europe because it wasn't changed by the impact of the Roman Empire. We're still seeing a land that, until the late Middle Ages, had an unbroken tradition of culture stretching back to Neolithic times. Celtic Ireland casts an enduring spell at a time when our whole world is searching so desperately for roots.

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