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Video Review: Into The West
by Bridget Haggerty

Our dear friend Audrey in California sent us a copy of this movie. We'd never heard of it and we were very curious. Bless her for sharing with us an unforgettable Irish story!

We checked for availability on amazon and found the following great review by Richard Farr. It echoes our opionions exactly; so, not being the types to re-invent the wheel, we unashamedly republish it here: Set mainly in the Ireland the tourist board didn't tell you about, Into the West is the story of a "traveling" family who have given up their traditional life of roaming, and find themselves trying to make it in the gritty, violent projects of Dublin. Gabriel Byrne is excellent as Papa Reilly, a once-proud father and leader whose grief over his wife's death has turned him into a booze-sodden has-been. His two sons, Tito (Ruaidhri Conroy) and Ossie (Ciaran Fitzgerald), escape the projects on an apparently magical white horse, Tir Na Nog, which leads them back to the West. After being forced to steal the horse back from a wealthy and ruthless horse dealer, they are pursued across the increasingly beautiful landscape by virtually all the policemen in Ireland. The much-loved actor David Kelly (Waking Ned Devine) does a nice turn as the grandfather, and Ellen Barkin is a surprising but believable choice as an old "traveling" friend of Papa Reilly. For better or for worse--mainly better--this is not the story Disney would have told: redemptive and uplifting at the end, it's realistic to the point of ugliness on the way there, with a style of cinematography that the Magic Kingdom has never been able to stomach. The younger brother, Ossie, is supposed to be 7, but the story itself is perhaps more appropriate for somewhat older children.

Mr. Farr's review is right on the mark! We've watched Into the West several times and it never fails to disappoint. One word of caution, though - there is some bad language. Our suggestion is for parents to view it first and then decide how to handle it. Mute button in hand, there's no need to miss out on what, in our opinion, is one of the best Irish movies we've seen in a long while.

The movie is great and, if you've read this far, maybe that's all you want to know. But, perhaps you might be interested in the book that was the basis of the movie. If so, please click here: Into The West

To purchase or read more reviews on the movie, please click here: Into the West video


Thu, Dec 7, 2017

Holly and Ivy hanging up and
something wet in every cup*

Not so long ago, Irish Christmas decorations were much simpler than they are now. The children gathered holly and ivy for adorning, windows, doorways, mantles and pictures, and the father would carve out a turnip in which would be placed a large red candle. This would go in the window to light the way for the Holy Family on Christmas Eve. Only in relatively recent times did an Irish family have a Nativity scene and a decorated tree in the house. As for Mistletoe, it's quite rare in ireland and is generally associated with ancient Celtic and Druidic fertility celebrations; this is most likely where the custom of kissing under the mistletoe comes from.
*Old Irish Christmas toast
Image: Pashley Manor Gardens.

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