Mothers of Modern Ireland

Pearl McCormac, Laois

11th July 2008

Pearl had 14 children and 13 pregnancies which, even if you don't understand, is a lot of children to have. It was strange because even though she was our grandmothers' generation, she had children the same age as our generation. I've actually begun to take the hospitality of these awesome women for granted. Because so many of them are so inviting and warm, it starts becoming the norm and you begin to start expecting lashings of tea and cake. After about 5 minutes with Pearl, it was no exception: I just feel incredibly at ease in these ladies' homes and I think that speaks volumes about their character. You can have the craic with these women because they have lived through so much, I suppose. It's always a shame we can't stay for longer, but we simply have to leave as part of what we're doing. DSC_2276.JPG It's the long journey's home that the philosophy begins. I've just myself read Hannah's entry and its all about things we've been discussing. These women are fantastically real, hard-working, honest people, yet there are so many contradictions in the society that we are beginning to piece together. I think it's entirely natural and imperative to question aspects about how this story is told. The crew is in agreement about so much; about the importance of the footage we have already and how warm these women are. But how to structure a narrative around the footage is a much harder question. The archive will always be a very important document because scholars at any given time in the future may want to know what people earnt 100 years ago on this patch of land, for example. But the feature film we also want to make from this archive, is obviously morphing with every lady we meet - it has to! A branch that doesn't bend in the wind, will eventually snap. We were always aware and relished that aspect of the project. But as more and more of it is completed, questions get asked about the best way to utilise this incredible, raw footage. And we're not short of ideas either. DSC_2296.JPG One question I tend to ask the grandmothers is: Ireland has changed so much in the last generation, were there any clashes between you and your children as a result/symptom/cause of this change? The more I think about that question, the more I realise how abstract it must be to a 80 year old lady who has just been asked about what food she would have eaten 50 years ago. So if the question is too vague or abstract to get any real answer, how do you show the answer to that question in the film? I myself had a mini epiphany today when Hannah suggested that we shouldn't censor ourselves in any way with our questions. For instance, I have begun to call "Sex Education", the "Birds and the Bees". It's just one way in which I've changed something tiny in how I think to align it with how I think they might think. This is clearly a mistake on many levels, and just isn't honest filmmaking. To pick up on Hannah's analogy, if we don't bring our generation's customs to the table, why expect the grandmothers to show us how they react to those customs? And that tiny detail is, I believe, at the heart of what we're doing. We're not trying to hurt or provoke, to belittle or chide. We're trying to create a social commentary of a time that will, in 20 years, be gone forever.

- Tom