Director: Katrina Costello
Talent: Patrick McCormack
Released: October 5
The Silver Branch centres around the highly publicised and community dividing plans by the government’s Office of Public Works to build a large scale interpretive centre at Mullaghmore in the Burren area in the 1990’s. First-time director Katrina Costello skillfully uses the building of this interpretive centre as a McGuffin.
This film goes far beyond its farmer/government David vs. Goliath battle, and instead becomes a deep meditation on existence and the connection we hold with the land and those that have come before us. Through magnificent shots of the Burren, The Silver Branch absorbs all senses and throughout it weaves a subtle conversation on life.
Our journey’s guide is Burren Action Group member Patrick McCormack, a farmer and poet who left school at the age of 14 to follow in the footsteps of his ancestors and “walk the land to be as close to nature as possible.” His poetic narration is both informative and reflective, as the viewer is guided by his hypnotic voice-over. We follow McCormack – observing him like one of the Peregrine Falcons that patrol his skies – through scenes of building a stone wall and tending his sheep.
At the time, the group members were labeled by some as “green fascists and elitists” for opposing the large-scale construction that, it was argued, would create an abundance of jobs for those in the county. Although misunderstood, those in opposition of the interpretive centre were led by their values and beliefs to fight what they felt was the good fight.
The Silver Branch is brilliantly layered and executed, a master class in documentary film making and a deep breath of fresh country air that everybody needs to take in.
Words: Rose Ugoalah