Katrina Costello. Photo: Aishling O Sullivan
A Prosperous woman is in the running for the IFTA’s which take place this evening, for an amazing documentary that she spent five years making.
Katrina Costello grew up on a farm in the 1960’s and 70’s, and left Ireland in the late 80s to work in trading room computer software.
“I contracted on mostly six months on, six months off periods — working in some of the major stock exchanges and banking capitals of the world,” she explains.
“That allowed me the opportunity to do what I love; to go alone photographing and living in the far off reaches of the world — from the mountains of Asia to the basin of the Amazon.
“I was especially drawn to rural communities, to the people who live close to the soil or the water. I am always compelled by the elders, for their stories, their honesty, acceptance and knowledge of themselves.”
“The Silver Branch” is her first documentary film and she says it took many years to craft.
“Primarily it grew out of my desire to give our unique Irish landscape and the stories of our agrarian culture a place in our modern society. I miss farming so much, and the moments of magic witnessed as a child farming with my father in Prosperous.
“At that time, Prosperous was a different village and we used to walk the cows home through the village for milking twice a day,”— a memory that will resonate with many Prosperous residents of an older vintage.
"If you’ve seen cows walking, you’ll know their pace is slow and easy. I am saddened to observe that in the short 20 years that I was away from Ireland, we have lost much of our agrarian culture. I think many of us, who were born in the ‘60s had some small vegetable patch, maybe some hens or animals at the back of the house, or their granny or cousins had a farm with a sick lamb or calf that needed to be bottle fed by the fire.
The best of Clare's stunning scenery is on display in this lovingly shot film.
“The documentary is a form of eulogy to all that — to that time — to communities, when people called to each other and helped each other in the fields and bogs; to those people that we grew up with and are dying away. It is so sad and unfortunate, (at least I feel) that we live in a society now where we don’t have time for these things, our relationship with food and the land has changed, we buy food cheaply and packaged nicely and farmers are squeezed commercially into intense farming methods — which is more about yield and quantity.
“However, I have been fortunate enough to share some time with some of Clare’s unique stronghold of traditional farmers.
“I think in many other parts of the world, we’ve lost or are in a state of losing something rich and beautiful, and that living close to nature teaches us so much more — it is what made us Irish — it gave us an understanding of work, acceptance, patience, nurturing, love and death.
“And the more we understand the power and the fragility of nature, landscape and community, the more we realise that we cannot separate humanity from nature and that each of us are responsible for our children and our children’s children future.”
The documentary focuses on Patrick Mc Cormack, a farmer, an incredible storyteller, poet, an agrarian philosopher and a visionary.
Incidentally, his house was used in one of the world’s most popular sitcoms ever, Fr. Ted.
“I have been privileged that Patrick has shared his life story, philosophy and poetry in this film, which I believe he did, to honour this ancient landscape and his cast of friends — the past, present and future,” says Katrina.
“Patrick reveres the natural world and offers us profound insights into his thoughts on people and place. Filtered through his poetic spirit and vision, his philosophy is born from a deep relationship with the earth and the story of our ancestors. Voices like Patrick are voices in the wilderness… literally… he is our guide through the journey of this film.”
The film star Brendan Gleeson described the documentary as “film making as it should be in Ireland, finding the universal in the local — with a sure footedness that is most unusual, magical; a unique and important cinematic gift.
“The film is beautiful. Stunning visually and the sensibilities are so vividly expressed. A true gaisce. Amazing work, well done yourself,” said the Irish film legend.