The Boys From County Clare at the Celtic Cafe

As is sometimes the case, there has been a name change in this film's title prior to release. This time it's to include the role of the character played by Andrea Corr of the Corrs. It's now "The Boys and Girl of County Clare." Click on the thumbnail on the right to see the 2005 official movie poster.

There is an official site for the film!

The Celtic Cafe community is thrilled that we can finally get to see the film in the theaters, at least here in the U.S. Mark March 11th, 2005 on your calendar for its "limited release," and expect to hear a LOT of that great traditional Irish music that we so love around here! Word has it that the DVD will release in North America this July -- surely a must-have in any Celtic music lover's collection!

See the film review below to see why we are so excited about the soundtrack, and check back here for news and information in the coming weeks.

The following is our original feature, done at the time that the film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September of 2003.

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Toronto International Film Festival

Screening Times:

Friday, September 12 06:30 PM ROY THOMSON HALL
Saturday, September 13 09:30 AM UPTOWN 1

Celtic music festivals are very popular among fans here in the Celtic Cafe community, and now we are fortunate to actually get a major film showcasing the "All-Ireland" traditional music finals! Originally entitled "The Great Ceili War," the film, directed by John Irvin, produced by Evzen Kolar, and starring Andrea Corr, has a new name: "The Boys From County Clare." Andrea (tin whistle, lead vocals) and her siblings form the hugely popular group The Corrs.

"Set against a backdrop of traditional Irish music in 1970s rural Ireland, this ensemble comedy drama centres around two brothers, both fiddle players, who meet up again for the first time in twenty-five years as band leaders and arch rivals in the finals of the All Ireland Ceili Band Competition, the strict time music of jigs, reels and hornpipes played for set dancers.

Now both in their fifties, and with an old score to settle concerning their estrangement, their story -- and that of those around them -- is a story of music, sabotage, love and eventual forgiveness, of Montagues versus Capulets, and a pair of young star-crossed lovers, both musicians in the rival bands."

The "fiddle player" character of Anne is Andrea Corr's first time as a lead in a film, although we admire her work in previous, and much smaller roles, such as in "The Commitments" (which also featured Ronan Hardiman in a bit part with very long hair!) and opposite Madonna in "Evita." Other leads in The Boys From County Clare include Colm Meaney (Star Trek), Eamonn Owens (Angela's Ashes, Magdalene Sisters, Butcher Boy) and Bernard Hill (Lord of the Rings).

The following information comes by way of the Toronto International Film Festival:

"The All-Ireland Traditional Music Competition is attracting the best musicians from all over the country – and a few from beyond the shores of the Emerald Isle. As John Joe (Bernard Hill) and his band prepare to capture the ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) band trophy with their County Clare jigs and reels, ex-pat Irishman Jimmy (Colm Meaney) bends his Liverpudlians away from jazz toward the time-honoured strains of Celtic music. The Boys from County Clare salutes the spirit of this musical tradition in a touching, gently comical tale foregrounding the family feuds that wreak havoc behind the scenes of this battle of the bands.

As the musicians make their way towards the competition, trouble rears its head for both sets of challengers: the Liverpool Shamrock Ceilidh Band and the defending champions from Clare. But there is more at work here than fate. At the heart of this adversity lie the vengeful interventions of two estranged brothers, Jimmy and John Joe; when they set eyes on each other for the first time in twenty years, ancient rivalries are inflamed and the contest for the trophy develops a very personal edge. Meanwhile, Clare’s star fiddler, Anne (the radiant music icon Andrea Corr of The Corrs family band), chafes under her mother’s strictures against dating – especially when her eye lands on Teddy (Shaun Evans), Liverpool’s prodigious flute player. They are Eire’s answer to Romeo and Juliet: the attraction is resoundingly mutual.

The film weaves these timeless themes of discord – star-crossed lovers, feuding brothers, narrow-minded parents and rebellious children – with the passion all the characters share for the music they play. And, against a backdrop of amber-lit pubs, narrow streets and sandy shores, the visuals keep pace with the melodious soundtrack and reflect the honour and traditions at stake in the competition. This trophy stands for more than just musical prowess."

Production Company: Studio Hamburg WorldWide Pictures
Executive Producer: Martyn Auty, Steve Christian, Anthony Rufus Isaacs, David Korda, Ellen Little, Jim Reeve, Dieter Stempnierwsky
Producer: Evzen Kolar, Wolfgang Esenwein, Ellen Dinerman Little
Screenplay: Nicholas Adams
Cinematography: Thomas Burstyn
Editor: Ian Crafford
Production Designer: Tom McCullagh
Sound: John Warhurst
Music: Fiachra Trench
Principal Cast: Andrea Corr, Bernard Hill, Colm Meaney, Philip Barantini, Shaun Evans, Charlotte Bradley

John Irvin was born in Newcastle, England. He began his directing career with the BBC, where he made the much-praised miniseries “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” (79). Other television work includes “Robin Hood” (91) and “When Trumpets Fade” (98). Selected feature filmography: The Dogs of War (80), Ghost Story (81), Champions (83), Turtle Diary (85), Raw Deal (86), Hamburger Hill (87), Next of Kin (89), Eminent Domain (90), Free Fall (93), Widow’s Peak (94), the 1995 Festival presentation A Month By the Lake (95), City of Industry (97), Shiner (00) and The Boys from County Clare (03).

The Boys From County Clare is a presentation of First Look Media and Studio Hamburg WWP in association with the Isle Of Man Film Commission and TPC Film Productions. Now a division of First Look Media, Overseas Filmgroup will handle worldwide licensing for the film, and is one of the few truly independent worldwide film distribution companies specializing in the acquisition, financing, packaging and distribution of independently-produced feature films of all genres.

One of their past films of special interest to the Celtic Cafe is the very entertaining Waking Ned Devine -- if you haven't yet seen it, do so!


Naturally we are extremely curious about the MUSIC in this film! So far we know that the Corr's manager John Hughes is involved, and Fiachra Trench, the composer whose bio at the Contemporary Music Centre of Ireland reads as follows:

Fiachra Trench was born in Dublin in 1941. He studied science at Trinity College, Dublin and composition and organ at the Royal Irish Academy of Music with A. J. Potter and George Hewson. He pursued further musical studies at the Universities of Georgia and Cincinnati (where he gained an MMus degree) and, having been awarded the Macaulay Fellowship by the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon, at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. From 1969 until 1991 he worked in London as composer, arranger, musical director and record producer. Since returning to live in Ireland he has worked principally in the area of music for film and television. His scores include those for Dear Sarah, A Love Divided and the major BBC documentary series, People’s Century. He has collaborated with Shaun Davey, Michael Kamen, Hans Zimmer and others on many film scores including Twelfth Night, Die Hard and Pearl Harbor. Two of his orchestral works, MM: Symphonic Movement and Overture for Brass and Percussion, have been performed by the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra has performed his Summer Suite (Five Pastiches for Orchestra). As arranger/musical director he has worked with rock, pop and folk performers including Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, The Corrs and The Chieftains. He is musical director and pianist with the Carmel McCreagh Band.


Philip Begley - Engineer
Caitriona Walsh - Contracted the musicians

Paddy Glackin - Band leader/fiddle
Seamus Glackin - Fiddle
Paul McGrattan - Flute/Whistles
Harry Bradley - Flute/Whistles
Mary Corcoran - Piano
John Regan - Button Accordion
Seamus Meehan - Piano Accordion
Noel Bridgeman - Drums
Pádraic Mac Mathúna - Pipes
Kieran Hanrahan - Banjo
Hugh Webb - Celtic Harp
Fiachra Trench - Solo Piano
Philip Begley - Guitar

Recorded at Beechpark Studios, Rathcoole, County Dublin

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We had a Celtic Cafe representative at the Toronto Film Festival to give us a first look at the film. Here is the "report back," thanks to Pat Simmonds of Toronto (

The Boys From the County Clare.

This unassuming film landed at the Toronto Film Festival utterly bereft of the hype associated with the much-lauded Hollywood blockbusters that swagger their way into town but after its Gala performance with a standing ovation that one jaded hack described as "the most spontaneous reaction to a film that I've seen this year," this little film was dancing jigs and reels around the competition. Certainly the press conference the following day was one of the more lively and interesting engagements in the festival -- everyone wanted to know about this thing called "Irish Traditional Music."

And Irish Traditional Music they got. From the opening to the closing, the film revolved around music. A film where Irish Music was not the evocative mood setter in the background (see shot of rolling green hills with pipes playing slowly) but was presented up front and centre in its rightful place, in yer face. We had a series of tune sets linked together by the plot. Two estranged brothers, one in Ireland and one in England who are both maintaining the traditional music of their youth, go head-to-head in the Ceilidh Band Competition. The prestige associated with leading a successful band may be lost to some viewers, but believe me, the prize is huge so there's all to play for. Wrapped up in the skulduggery and shenanigans are the subplots, a slighted woman and her daughter of undetermined parentage, a couple of American hippies distributing a bit of free love around Ireland, an affair of the heart between rival band members and a vague sense that all is not what it seems but running through the whole piece is the central theme of music, music and more music with musicians' insatiable appetites for tunes, tunes and more tunes.

The film can best be described as a gentle comedy although some of the comedic moments were far from gentle, I was creasing myself laughing at one point. Be prepared to brush up on English football in the 1960s, the art of uilleann piping, the application of the word "feck" and a whole raft of other wonderfully subtle references. The acting is animated and the script is tight. Colm Meaney is great in his portrayal of the cynical and acerbic Irish construction magnate and perfectly matched by Bernard Hill as the quietly unassuming brother who stayed at home on the farm. Charlotte Bradley's "pinched look" as the love interest that never was between the rival brothers is a gloriously maintained effort and Andrea Corr acquits herself well as the daughter looking to come out from under her mother's wings. Philip Barantini and Shaun Evans put in great work as a couple of Jack-the-lad Liverpuddlian musicians coming of age in a most unlikely place.

One could be picky and tackle the film on some issues. Clearly none of the lead actors could play an instrument so some of the continuity aspects were lacking and the music was obviously tinged with a Donegal flavour, quite different from Clare's lightly swinging lilt but enough of that. It's theatre.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable theatre-going experience and I would be surprised if this film doesn't become the sleeper hit that it deserves to be both on the big screen and in the home entertainment market. Fans of Irish Traditional Music will have a field day spotting the cameo roles in the sessions and on the competition stage but you don't have to be fan to get the film. The theme of sibling rivalry and love's ability to transcend it is a universal story and that is what binds this film but be warned, you will find yourself humming tunes in odd places for the next month.

Pat Simmonds,

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We'll have much more about The Boys From County Clare later, so please check back!


Feature: Bernadette Price
Original Web Design: Alexander Servas

Film Poster
Andrea Corr as "Anne"
© 2003 by