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The Secret of Roan Inish Thumbnail

The Secret of Roan Inish

Introduction. It is not my intention to come up with a movie recommendation for each and every holiday. However, as St. Patrick’s Day was approaching, I remembered this wonderful little movie which showcases a bit of Irish folklore, along with a smattering of its history, geography, and language. With a “96% Fresh” rating from Rotten Tomatoes, this family-friendly movie is not just for kids. It’s for anyone who cherishes family bonds and the telling of family folk tales. If the idea of sitting by the fire listening to your grandfather talk about the distant past appeals to you, then so will this movie.

Storyline synopsis. From Wikipedia, the movie is based on a 1957 novel set in the north-west coast of Ireland in 1946. 10-year-old Fiona is sent for the summer to live “with her grandparents in an Irish fishing village, after the death of her mother, illness of her father, and her own failing health.” Her grandparents have recently been evacuated from Rón Inis, which in Irish means "Island of Seals." There the extended family lived together in thatched-roof cottages and made their living from fishing. “Roan Inish is a real location near Narin, a village on the west coast of County Donegal in the west of Ulster.” Much of the film takes place in Donegal Town.

From a distant cousin, Fiona hears a mystical family tale based on “the Irish and Orcadian folklores of selkies—seals that can shed their skins to become human.” He suggests to Fiona that the mysterious disappearance of her baby brother during the evacuation can be explained by the family’s historical intermarriage with the selkies. While the movie’s story line goes beyond credulity, the underlying message is one of family love and loyalty, of respect for history and nature, and of hope and happy endings.

Why I recommend this movie. I can’t think of a better way to observe St. Patrick’s Day than by watching this little gem of a film, which captures a slice of the history, geography, and magic of the Emerald Isle.


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