IT WAS a case of lights, camera, action in the serene Ballyhoura countryside at the weekend when filming took place of a new short film scripted by former Fair City actress Maeve McGrath and starring Game of Thrones actor Aidan Crowe.
‘Gypsy Vanner’ has been a labour of love for writer and producer Maeve McGrath for the past two years.
The Glenosheen native was keen to film in the Ballyhoura region to showcase the natural beauty of the area.
And her dream came true over the weekend when cast members, crew and locals combined their talents and resources to shoot the eight-minute short film.
“I’m from Glenosheen and I always wanted to film something around there. It’s such a beautiful area and it really suited the community I was basing the film on. They are a very settled Traveller community. It is a story about love, it is the anti -Big Fat Gypsy Wedding,” Maeve explained.
“It is about Traveller traditions - the true Traveller who really lives in their world, in a lovely traditional world as well,” she added.
Maeve got her inspiration for the film during a visit to the Appleby Horse Fair in Cumbria which attracts around 10,000 Gypsies and Travellers and over 30,000 other visitors each year.
The story follows the lead character Francie Vaughan - played by Game of Thrones actor Aidan Crowe - back to his halting site in Limerick after a tragic event at a fair.
“I have known Aidan for years. I first went to him when I started to write the script and said:‘look the part of Francie is yours, I really want you to play this part and I’m writing it for you.’ He said: ‘no bother Maeve’ and every time I would get a phone call from him he would ask ‘is it happening yet?”
Aidan who is from Lansdowne Park, Ennis Road was filming on the hit series Games of Thrones in March - he plays the role of Quent. “He is a tremendous actor and a very talented theatre actor,” said Maeve.
Other cast members include Galway girl Emma O’Grady who plays the role of Francie’s love interest Charlene and “a fantastic actress from Bruff”, Margie Nagle who plays the matriarch of the family, Molly. Ballyhoura Development provided funding for the production which was filmed on location in Ardpatrick, Ballyorgan, Kilflynn and around Castle Oliver. “We filmed outside Mee’s Pub in Ballyorgan and Kilflynn Church and a lot of it was filmed in Ardpatrick. We wanted to get in the natural surroundings and the mountains,” explained Maeve who said she was indebted to the local people for their assistance. “We had so many people come on board. People said: ‘oh I’ve a horse, I’ll bring along my horse!’. A local girl Marguerite Noonan from Ardpatrick brought her horse Hazel. We needed two different horses so Zeb Moore who is a professional actor from Limerick came out with a beautiful horse called the Dublin Flyer. We had to double location because we couldn’t afford to film in Appleby so we were getting barriers from Ballyhoura to make it look like the fair. John Houlihan and John Hederman from Grange brought two caravans out to me.”
Limerick man Patrick O’Brien from Windings is doing the score for the film while Miriam Garcia Mortell was the make-up artist for the shoot. “People from the Behind the Scenes Network Group in Limerick came out to help us. The crew from Tree Light were superb. Colm Higgins was my director and producer and he was absolutely fantastic. We wrapped on Sunday night and spent a bit of time in the Greenwood Inn.”
Maeve, who resides in Glenosheen with her husband Jonathan and son Aidan left Glenosheen at the age of three when she moved into the city with her family. She was reared in Woodview Park. “After years of being away, you want to put down roots and for me coming home was coming home to Glenosheen. I always wanted to go back because my granny Sally McGrath was from there,” explained Maeve who became a household name in the 1990s as a result of playing the role of Lorraine Molloy on Fair City. “I left Fair City in 2000, 12 years ago, it feels like yesterday,” she laughed.
Following post production, Gypsy Vanner will be entered into a number of film festivals. “Ireland is really good at making shorts. We have had a short film for the last 10 years up for an Oscar nomination,” she added