hen it comes to the greatest Irish comedy film of all time, there are quite a few contenders.
Some will say that it’s Alan Parker’s 1991 adaptation of Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments. Others will argue that, nay, it’s John Crowley’s 2003 Dublin gangsta satire Intermission. Or Stephen Frears’ take on another Roddy Doyle outing, The Snapper (1993).
Then again, others will try and convince you that it’s 2008’s In Bruges, 2004’s Mickybo And Me, 1997’s I Went Down, 1998’s Waking Ned, 2004’s Adam & Paul or John Crowley’s criminally-underrated Zonad (2009).
Well, they’re all wrong. The Greatest Irish Comedy Film Of All Time was actually shot largely here, in sunny Greystones, back in 1987, with the likes of Pierce Brosnan, Dermot Morgan, Ray McAnally and the feckin’ gorgeous Alison Doody all helping to make Taffin a 1-carat gold-certified & chuckle-filled classic.
Basically Bond Does Glenroe, and the greatest Rainier Wolfcastle film ever made, in Taffin, Brosnan plays a low-budget maverick who lives on the edge, of Wicklow town, in a run-down seafront ruin, dividing his time between reading philosophy books, shouting at Alison Doody and working outside the law to help the little guy slap down big business. If you haven’t seen it, well, you’re in for a TREEEEEEEEEEEEAT. As Mark Ignatius Bartholomew Ragina Taffin would say.
It’s not the first major movie to be shot around these parts, of course, with Ealing Studios swinging by Greystones’ seafront back in 1948 for the rather scrappy Another Shore, Jane Seymour gracing us with her presence in 1999 for the rather crappy Yesterday’s Children, Timothy Hutton going Full Psycho in 2005’s Turning Green, and Angela Lansbury and Diane Wiest joining forces for the very sappy The Blackwater Lightship in 2003.
On the credible side, there is, of course, Simon Fitzmaurice’s fine drama My Name Is Emily, featuring a whole host of naked bottoms descending upon the South Beach.
And talking of local filmmakers, watch out for Jake McKone’s fine shorts, including his Then & Now exploration, comparing Robert French’s early 20th century shots of Greystones with their present-day incarnations.
There’s also 2010’s The Strange Case Of The Irish Crown Jewels, shot in the projector room of The Ormonde with the bould Graham Spurling, but, we’d rather not start listing porn titles here.
Just up the road, Mark Lester horse-jumped about Delgany and beyond for 1971’s Black Beauty John Hurt channelled Mick Jagger for the so-so ’60s romp Sinful Davey, and George Peppard and James Mason took to the Wicklow skies for 1966’s The Blue Max. Which reminds us, you can explore Delgany’s other famous friends and film shoots – including the mighty Moone Boy – here.
Oh, and how could we forget the Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman disaster Far & Away, which sullied the good name of Greystones with a boat scene opposite St David’s back in 1992.
On the TV front, we’ve had the likes of George Gently’s Last Case (2006), followed mysteriously by George Gently II & III a year later, plus Bombers Moon, all with Martin Shaw, The League Of Gentlemen’s Reece Shearsmith in the ITV 2013 three-parter The Widower, and the 1981 diddley-aye French TV series Les Roses de Dublin (featuring Cecil Hayden in, of course, a wedding fight scene), whilst many a night in more recent years have seen strange lights up on Bray Head, as groovy gothic caper Penny Dreadful continued its run.
And let’s not forget that local lad-about-town Dave Caffrey (Love/Hate, Grand Theft Parsons) made his directorial debut with the 2003 short, The Connivers, a 20-minute caper that also launched Maclean Burke upon an unsuspecting world.
To our shame, of course, someone let Sky TV through the door, for Dream Team, but, on the sports front, at least Glenroe had the decency to hold their young vs old town rugby tournament in Greystones, taking over the GRFC bar for the afters too.
Oh, and the whole world and her brother knows our old Ormonde cinema thanks largetly to the mighty Father Ted.
Add to that quite a few commercials – most recently, Cafe Gray and Ireton’s – and Greystones clearly has the look that Hollywood likes.
The fact that we’re surrounded by both the wilds of Wicklow and Ardmore Studios in Bray would explain why such big hitters as Vikings, PS, I Love You, The Tudors, Breakfast On Pluto, The League Of Gentlemen: The Apocalypse, King Arthur, Broth Of A Boy, Veronica Guerin, Mystics, Angela’s Ashes, Michael Collins, Dancing At Lughnasa and Braveheart have all been shot on our doorstep.
With a little more schmoozing, we might have event caught the recent Star Wars sequels too, the Disney scouts actually checking out the Wicklow hills for The Force Awakens.
Elvis knows we have the talent here too. From the Oscar-nominated, Burnaby-born Geraldine Fitzgerald (grabbing her Academy nod opposite Laurence Olivier in William Wyler’s 1939 take on Wuthering Heights, and starring alongside Bette Davis that same year in Dark Victory) to the firm-buttocked young Phelim Drew (The Commitments, Once, My Left Foot, Ripper Street) and current Oscar fave Saoirse Ronan, from producers such as Noel Pearson (The Field, My Left Foot) to Tim Palmer (Into The West, Patrick’s Day), and a new generation of filmmakers (Jake McKone, Colin Murnane, Robin S. Kavanagh).