Ireland is a country steeped in a long and fertile history of traditions, culture and storytelling. It has produced some of the most inspiring, creative and talented artists. Integral to all this is the Irish language. Traditionally, stories were passed from one generation to the next through storytelling and song. Whilst many of the customs have sadly faded, it undoubtedly traditional Irish music which has fared the best. Pat Collins merges the factual with the lyrical to create a potent portrait of one of the most famous sean-nós singers, Joe Heaney, in Song of Granite.
Born in Carna, Connemara in 1919, from an early age Joe Heaney (played at different stages in his life by Colm Seoighe, Michael O’Chonfhlaola and Macdara Ó Fátharta) was fascinated by the stories and music he heard around him. Sparked by his father’s singing, Joe caught the knack himself but was too shy to perform in public until the age of twenty. He achieved fame and fortune on the world stage after his performance at Newport Folk Festival.
Collins uses recreations, imaginings and documentary footage to produce a portrait of Heaney which focuses on the music and not the man. Indeed, whilst Song of Granite looks absolutely breath-taking, using the stunning Irish countryside to full effect, it’s the music which really makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. It’s achingly beautiful. Song of Granite brings the poetical and lyrical traditions of sean-nós singing to a whole new audience.
Song of Granite is released on DVD by Thunderbird Releasing on 2nd April.