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

Music From The Series

Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin's album "Templum" features the theme from In Search of Ancient Ireland.

The CD is available through Virgin Records.

Listen to the music clip

About The Film: Production Diaries
Memories of production

In this section:
About the Episodes
Filmmaker Q & A
Production Diaries
Broadcast Schedule
Web and TV Credits
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The chance to experience history in the present is one of the most exciting things about making a series like IN SEARCH OF ANCIENT IRELAND. Early in the filming, we were shooting a scene in a County Kerry village where Irish was still the primary language. It was St. Brigit's Day, February 1st -- the festival of Imbolg in a pre-Christian pagan calendar. School children cut reeds from a bog close to their one-roomed schoolhouse and wove them into Brigit crosses like those made and hung on Irish walls for more than a thousand years. The kids followed an ancient ritual -- dying out in modern Ireland -- of hand-carrying the woven crosses to every house in the village. An old lady who lived in a remote cottage was one of Ireland's last living "seanchai" -- the traditional storytellers. After a little girl handed her the cross, the seanchai invited the children inside by the fire and told them tales of St. Brigit from an age before Christianity, when "the Brigit" was a mother-goddess who protected her people from harm. Myth and legend were being passed from generation to generation just as they had been for millennia. It's a continuity of culture we've lost here in the U.S.

Rain Over the course of a year's filming, we not only met the people but saw Ireland from many unusual perspectives, as when my cameraman, Gary, and I were doing aerial helicopter filming over a remote part of Donegal. On the Lough (lake) of Doon, a tiny island is completely enclosed by thick 12-foot high stone walls. It's a massive ring-fort that once must have controlled the whole area. Except for the fort and the lake, there's no level ground, just trackless bog and hills that drop away to the coast a few miles away. We'd been filming for a while before a rainsquall came suddenly out of the mountains -- such storms are frequent in Ireland -- and the winds were gusting so strongly that my pilot said we had to land -- immediately! But where? The only flat land was inside the 12-foot high walls of the ring fort. That's where Joe set us down and after we landed, I realized the tips of the rotor blades were barely clearing the encircling dry-stone walls. Joe was quite a pilot.

Joe's piloting skills were tested again a few days later when we were getting aerial shots of Crough Patrick, Ireland's sacred mountain. I'd planned to fly up the pilgrim path that leads to the summit and we were more than three-quarters of the way up, flying along a narrow saddle of rock, when a sudden downdraft tipped the helicopter off the side of the mountain. Joe put us into auto-rotation and we "free-wheeled" down, hoping to pick up sufficient airspeed to pull out of the dive. It happened so quickly. Gary was filming and I was too focused on images in my TV monitor to realize that we were on an aerial roller-coaster. Only when I saw tourists and climbers on the pilgrim path throwing themselves to the ground as we whizzed overhead did I realize that something was wrong. At the bottom, Joe calmly re-engaged the rotors and we leveled out. His only comment was a soft "that was close." Reviewing the footage in my hotel room a few hours later, I realized just how close it had been.

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