Making Ryan’s daughter

The myths, madness and mastery

Paul Benedict Rowan

New Island Books

I escaped Ireland’s capital for 6 days earlier this year and ventured to the rugged landscape that is the dingle peninsula of west Kerry.

In different times other voices may have been singing out all over the many bars in The village of Dingle. Dingle, home of funghi the dolphin, in the middle of some of the finest scenery Ireland has to offer and the base for the movie Ryan’s Daughter. 

It was brought back to my memory when I ventured out from the blanket interpretative centre on Slea Head Drive. The walk around the cliff edge led to a run down building with no signage. On investigation I found out it was the schoolhouse used in David Leans film, Ryan’s Daughter. It was part of a village that was built on the edge of the cliff. The only building that wasn’t removed by the set makers. 

I needed to find out more and also discovered this new book by Paul Benedict Rowan. There are tales of debauchery and excess. Hollywood came to west Kerry, took over and left a year later. The book reads like a film in itself with hotel parties, house parties and pubs overflowing with actors, extras and movie workers spending their money with great ease. 

After paying a trip through those small mountainous roads I was amazed to think that truck loads of equipment was brought in. After experiencing every season practically every day I can understand how there’s was 5 different scenes readies each day for the film, depending I. The wind direction or cloud cover. How frustrating it must have been waiting for the sun to come out. And stay out.  I was unaware of the links the film had with apartheid South Africa and the fact that some of the final scenes were filmed there. West Kerry beat them so they had to move. It would have clouded my view on the movie for sure.


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