Jim and Cather­ine doc­u­ment proud story of Ard­fert

The Kerryman (Tralee Edition) - - NEWS - By DÓ­NAL NOLAN

IT’S a vil­lage that punches far above its weight when it comes to the his­tory books and now, the whole fas­ci­nat­ing story of Ard­fert - from its ori­gins as the ec­cle­si­as­tic power­base of the Dio­cese to its part in the 1916 Ris­ing - is set for a big screen treat­ment thanks to a cou­ple of lo­cal film­mak­ers.

Jim and Cather­ine McCarthy of Digi­mac Pro­duc­tions are de­lighted to screen their two-hour fea­ture doc­u­men­tary Ard­fert: A His­tor­i­cal Gem in Si­amsa Tíre on Fri­day, No­vem­ber 23 (7pm).

It is the fruit of two long years of painstak­ing re­search by the Fenit-based cou­ple, and it’s clear from the mo­ment the footage rolls that it’s been a labour of love.

It is also hoped that Ard­fert: A His­tor­i­cal Gem will right what is con­sid­ered by many to have been a ma­jor wrong against the peo­ple of the par­ish - how they were smeared as hav­ing been com­plicit with the crown in the trial and ex­e­cu­tion of Roger Case­ment.

But the doc­u­men­tary opens cen­turies prior, in the heart of the ex­tra­or­di­nary na­tional trea­sure that is Ard­fert Cathe­dral. Jim worked on the mas­sive ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ex­ca­va­tion and ren­o­va­tion of the Cathe­dral, one of the big­gest projects of its kind in the coun­try at the time and which lasted a decade; ef­fec­tively sav­ing the ruin from fur­ther demise and un­cov­er­ing a trea­sure trove of ma­te­rial re­lat­ing to how the Ir­ish lived in me­dieval times.

“It was a great time, I worked on the dig for four years my­self and it was a bril­liant ex­pe­ri­ence,” Jim re­called.

His in­side track af­forded him great ac­cess when it came to get­ting the whole story on cam­era, as Jim and Cather­ine in­ter­viewed some of the na­tion’s lead­ing ex­perts in the field - Se­nior Ar­chae­ol­o­gist with the Na­tional Mon­u­ments

Ser­vice Fionnbarr Moore; Se­nior Con­ser­va­tion Ar­chi­tect with the OPW Grel­lan D Rourke and Isabel Ben­nett, who now over­sees Múseam Corca Dhuib­hne in Bal­ly­fer­riter to name a few.

How the in­tact re­mains of 2,300 lo­cals came to be ex­ca­vated; the dis­cov­ery of price­less arte­facts, from the ex­tra­or­di­nary pil­grim’s badge likely brought back from San­ti­ago de Com­postela to a bishop’s ring be­lieved to have been granted 12th Cen­tury Bishop David Ua Duib­dithrib by Pope Ce­les­tine III, and much, much more - it’s all there in a seg­ment that stands by it­self as a fas­ci­nat­ing fea­ture.

Of great lo­cal in­ter­est too are speak­ers like Sean Seosamh Ó Conchub­hair, Tommy O’Con­nor, Donal Stack, Phil Healy, He­len O’Car­roll and Pat Lawlor to name but a few.

The lo­cal knowl­edge pro­vides a cru­cial coun­ter­point to one dark episode that has dogged Ard­fert over the past cen­tury - the pros­e­cu­tion of Roger Case­ment.

“This was one of the main points of the doc­u­men­tary as we re­ally wanted to get across the true story of the trial from the point of view of the lo­cals who were smeared by the UK me­dia as some­how hav­ing be­trayed Case­ment,” Jim said.

“A num­ber of lo­cals who wit­nessed Case­ment’s move­ments around the par­ish were sub­poe­naed for the trial; but as the likes of Sean Seosamh and Phil Healy demon­strate, no-one had any idea at the time who he was. Case­ment gave a false name and it wasn’t un­til Dublin that the RIC re­alised who they had so lo­cals were en­tirely in­no­cent and we hope the doc­u­men­tary sets a few of these things right.”

ABOVE: Hus­band-and-wife film­mak­ers Jim and Cather­ine McCarthy with, clockwise from be­low, Roger Case­ment on the deck of the Ger­man sub; Banna Sea Res­cue in ac­tion; Ard­fert Fri­ary, in­set, and a bird’s eye view of the Cathe­dral the cou­ple cap­tured by drone for their new doc­u­men­tary fea­ture on the fa­mous North Kerry vil­lage.

Dra­matic footage from the film of the Banna Sea Res­cue unit in ac­tion. The unit staged a ‘res­cue’ spe­cially for the piece, cap­tured to per­fec­tion with the use of HD drones and cam­eras.

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