Thomas Reid outside his home near Leixlip
This coming Friday evening at 6.45pm will see the first Kildare screening of The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid at Odeon, Naas.
Thomas Reid, or at least his story, will be known to many Kildare people. Mr Reid owns and farms a piece of land situated between Carton House and Intel on the Maynooth Leixlip Road.
He objected to plans by the IDA to buy his farm to provide land for an expansion of Intel. Initially he lost in his legal battle in the High Court, and while the documentary was being made, he won an appeal in the Supreme Court.
Mr Reid is something of an eccentric. With no electricity in the house, he listens to his radio a lot and often rings up DJs requesting songs. Speaking to the Leinster Leader, producer of the documentary Luke McManus explained that the director, Feargal Ward, is from Kilmacredock, which is an area on the Leixlip side of Mr Reid's home.
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Visiting his mother once, the director noticed the hand written protest signs outside Mr Reid's house and approached him.
“Feargal has a real interest in people who are on the margins in communities,” Luke explains. Mr Ward spent weeks and months working on developing a relationship with Mr Reid. “It took him a few weeks before he was even allowed into the garden” Mr McManus says.
The farmhouse was built in the 1700s and has been in Mr Reid’s family since the early 1900s, and was farmed by several generations of his family. Mr Reid was offered another farm of a similar size, a stone’s throw from his own, and several millions of euro to compensate him, but he refused to move.
As the film makers have said, the parameters of Mr Reid's life are his farm. “For us, as film makers, that's the most interesting bit, the fact that he refused to sell up,” Mr McManus said.
“Many of us would take the millions. Nobody is without a price. But Thomas Reid is a man without a price. When the IDA first encountered him they thought he was just playing hardball, trying to get the price up. I don't think it occurred to them initially that he simply didn't want to sell up,” he said.
Kildare director Feargal Ward
Mr McManus said that he understood the other side of the argument. “The IDA has done a lot for this country down through the years, and we wanted to be respectful of that as well,” he said.
He described the story as “layered, tricky, just like life”.
On Friday he and Mr Ward will be present in the Odeon in Naas and are planning on having a Q&A discussion afterwards. Since it was first released the documentary has attracted plaudits, including from the IFDA Film Festival in Amsterdam, where it was picked as one of the best.
Mr Reid has seen the documentary and likes it — but he criticised elements of their music choice.
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