The Irish films breaking Oscars records

“Our success is one hundred percent down to the fact there’s been very specific and focused investment in Irish language cinema for the last few years; several organisations came together to create an initiative called Cine4, and the whole idea of the scheme was to develop and produce Irish language films. I guess to date our own film is the most successful example of that,” he tells the BBC.

Other Irish language hits that have enjoyed success include a thriller set during the Irish famine, Arracht (2019), and Foscadh (2021), based on a Donal Ryan novel, which were also put forward as Irish nominees for best international feature.

The Oscar nomination of An Cailín Ciúin has given the Irish language a greater cultural platform, as shown by Mescal speaking it at Bafta. “It’s a monumental thing for the Irish language community,” says Bairéad.

“Less than two percent of people in Ireland speak Irish on a daily basis, so when something like this happens, it’s of enormous importance in every sense. On a personal level for myself and other Irish speakers, but also on a political level. Because a language like ours, it needs government support, it needs investment, it needs belief. And projects like this and moments like this are invaluable in that regard.”

Louise Ryan from Screen Ireland, the development agency for the Irish screen industry, believes that Ireland’s current soft power is repayment for a consistency of investment in Irish creative talent.

“It’s testament to taking risks on new talent, but you’ve also got to have the infrastructure, investing in production crews and studios as well as writers and directors. We’ve set up five talent academies and we’ve had stable government support over the last few years, including a Basic Income for the Arts scheme. We’re really seeing the results of all that.

“An Cailín Ciúin is also based upon a novel from a debut author, while Martin McDonagh originally came from the theatre, so we’re seeing crossover in the arts; it’s not just from film, and it makes for a creative hub so you’re seeing talent coming through in all directions,” she tells the BBC.

Whatever happens to the Irish nominees on Oscar night, there’s a sense of a bigger picture “back home” in Ireland, according to best supporting actor nominee Barry Keoghan, who thanked Ireland generally in his acceptance speech when he won a Bafta last month.

“It encourages the arts at home, and we are an island of storytelling, great actors and poets and writers. And it helps the industry massively at home and encourages people to send the scripts in and go for what they want to do.”

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