Irish-American student returns to Ireland to film his senior project

Mason senior goes back to his roots to create senior film project (photo courtesy of Paul O'Halloran).
Mason senior goes back to his roots to create senior film project (photo courtesy of Paul O'Halloran).

Senior Paul O’Halloran, a film and video studies major, is headed to Ireland this Christmas to shoot his senior film, “Ard Laoch na hÉireann,” which is dedicated to his great-grandfather. O’Halloran, who is Irish, said he hopes the film will show a different side of Ireland. O’Halloran answered some questions about his film for Fourth Estate.

What is the film about?

“Ard Laoch na hÉireann” is Irish for the “Hero of Ireland,” and is set in Dublin in 1918. It’s about a boy named Brian who is in a really violent world. Because of his Irish father’s British military service, he finds himself ostracized from society because of this rising anti-British sentiment. This kid, Brian uses Celtic mythology as a kind of coping mechanism to escape the hardships.

One day his father comes home from the war. Brian starts to find a role model in his father and starts to romanticize the violence of this hyper-masculine figure. Soon, the line between the fantasy and the obvious becomes blurred. He starts to think about the war stories his father tells him in a Celtic mythology way.

What was your inspiration for the film?

The inspiration came from my great-grandfather. It’s loosely based on him. He was Irish and fought in the British Army in World War One. He’s a really interesting character.

You get a guy who fights in World War One, imagine how awful that is, and then imagine how doubly awful that is to go home, and not be welcomed in Ireland or Britain.
The reason that a lot of people joined the war is because they were so poor.

Why are you interested in this topic?

One reason I was interested in this topic is because it fit in with my other interest of nationalism. When you think about immigration, it really makes you think about things like nationalism, and that is why this theme interests me, the idea of an Irish guy fighting in the British army.

Ireland is just so laden with folklore, fairy tale and mythology. It’s just absolutely ingrained in the culture. I thought this was a good way to weave them together, the very real problems in Ireland, and the folklore aspect.

There are a lot of stereotypes about Ireland, like the rolling-green hills stereotype, and that Ireland is always countryside and beautiful and cheery, but the idea of Irish identity and nationalism came out of conflict with Britain, came out of poverty, and came out of violence. That’s why we want to get that theme out.

Why did you start a Kickstarter for the film?

We are just trying to get people to check it out. We want to raise awareness. If you’re at any way interested in Irish culture or Irish history, consider getting aboard the project. This is an Irish film, made in Ireland, by an Irish filmmaker, with all Irish cast and crew, and I don’t think that’s ever been done at Mason, so that’s new.

It has some significance, it’s not just any story. This is based on kind of real history, these are thematic things that occurred in Ireland at the time, there is some weight to it.

We’re going to make it the best we possibly can. We want every little detail to be correct. We want the wardrobe, all the props to be perfect and historically correct. We don’t want any modern influence.

That’s one of the reason we started to fundraise, because it’s a period piece, we couldn’t just use costumes we have, because that wouldn’t be historically accurate. We have to go out and look for costumes and props that are accurate. If we have more money to do these things, we aren’t restricted by are budget and we can get the proper items we need. We want it to be as authentic as possible.

When will this film be screened?

It will definitely be screened at GMU in May 2014. We’re also trying to build up publicity in my hometown Swords [Ireland] and so it’s probably going to be screened in the Fingal Film Festival. The only thing I’m not sure though is if that will be 2014 or 2015. We’re also going to submit it as wide as we can to different film festivals.


Check out more about the film at

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