Mothers of Modern Ireland

Florence McClean, Tyrone

1st August 2008

A lesson in professionalism, thoroughness and manners was learnt the hard way today. In the last couple of days, we've been desperately trying to find ladies in the last remaining counties and managed to find the last couple only today. Shane and myself had been phoning hundreds of people and places looking for women to take part. I had numbers, names, times and directions scrawled all over my jotter as was made our way through the lashing rain to Tyrone to meet our woman: Mrs Kerr. We managed to get on the road on time, and then spent the next hour knocking on doors trying to find the actual house. Every person I spoke to had no idea who this Mrs Kerr was, and when I finally got through to her on the phone, she told us she was actually in a completely different part of the country. It was late and I was very worried. DSC_3990.JPG Was this lady fully aware of what was happening and that she was about to be filmed? I thought for a minute that we might be entering into the murky world of filming someone who wasn't entirely compos mentis. We tried another number in the phone from the day before and it turns out, I had the wrong name for the right address and that we did actually have a lady lined-up to be filmed on the road that we were on. It was now over an hour from when we'd said we'd meet and that time was already the latest we'd agreed to meet anyone on this journey; the light was fading very fast. Florence McClean's son was understandably agitated by our tardiness but his mother didn't look too fussed and we got down to the job at hand, profusely apologising as we unpacked equipment. Her house it seemed had the lighting benefits of a subterranean cave and my pulse began to beat that bit faster. A quick inspection of the kitchen showed we might be in luck. This was the first of all our women that we've interviewed where a child (albeit a child who was a granddad himself now) was present during the filming. In fact, Robert was extremely active in the questioning which gave this session a very unique energy. He was of course able to ask his Mother about specific incidences which had happened and we learnt of how Florence was in the heart of town when the Omagh bomb exploded, having been ushered closer to the location on a purposefully misleading tip-off from the perpetrators. A real treat for us was to listen to so many of the local languageisms in the beautiful Tyrone lilt that were batted between mother and son. Our initial idea was to have each lady interviewed by their grand-child and I think today's interview including a relation highlighted why that would have been such a strong idea. Other factors were also shown to us however that confirmed why we decided to do the interviews ourselves: as even though Robert was fantastic in tipping his ma's memory, he was obviously not so aware that we'd need to pick out unobstructed sound bites at the end of project. But this was really a minor detail. We now have only 4 more women to film and it just seems alien that we are on the concluding leg of the filming of this incredible journey.

- Tom