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Galway Film Fleadh 10th Birthday
15 Jul 1998 :
Both the Galway Film Fleadh and the Galway Film Centre celebrated their 10th Birthdays this year during the Fleadh in the Film Centre on the 8th of July. Needless to say a wild time was had by all. In recognition of this achievement a booklet entitled 'Grand for the most part - Fond memories of the first ten years' was printed and distributed to all and sundry. The book was compiled of short pieces and memories of various people involved in the Fleadh over the years and makes humorous reading. In fact I would go so far as to say that it should be required reading for anyone thinking of setting up a festival. Amid all the chaos, confusions and embarrassing moments one thing becomes abundantly clear, it is the indomitable spirit of Lelia Doolan and Mirium Allen which created and sustained the Fleadh into what it is today. Her ability to coax, frighten and charm people into doing what needs to be done is legendary. I distinctly remember being press-ganged into voluntary service as I quietly enjoyed a pint in the marquee in 1993. As I remember it I was asked to lend a hand for a minute, it lasted for the entire Fleadh. There are too many good stories to choose from so I have just taken a selection of quotes to give a flavour of the commentary of the last 10 years.

Ollie Jennings, Galway's one-man festival, had this novel idea that film was one of the arts and whenever he'd be flapping his way up Quay Street as I'd be Hurtling down, he'd call out: "when are you going to do a film festival?" So that's what we did.
Lelia Doolan

It was Ingmar Bergman who first tempted me into becoming involved in setting up a film festival in Galway. Lelia Doolan promised me faithfully that he would be our first guest..... I found myself borrowing old filing cabinets, negotiating the free use of fax machines commandeering my friends into activities not conductive to long lasting relationships and experiencing for the first time the Captain Bligh side of lelia's charm.
Joe Mahon

I vaguely remember the original idea being a Post-Colonial Film Festival in which the rapacious capitalist imperialist west would be pilloried and films we would never see would get an airing.
Bob Quinn

Of course even after 10 years it's not too late to stop all this foolishness and time-wasting. If there were enough people out there who could say no to Lelia, life in Galway could be normal for one week in the year.
Tom Casey

Sometime back in the early nineties Lelia and Miriam introduced me to long days and even longer nights with the fleadh floozie.
Caomhan O Scolai

"The thing I remember most is driving away and thinking I had just met the last true wild men in the world"
Rutger Hauer

The General Doolan - ignore at your peril, a heady blend of wise counsel and terrorist tactics.
Sally Ann O'Reilly & Ben Barenholtz

It was Hitler's daughters - Lelia and Miriam - who frog-marched me into the tent and commanded that I get on with running the bar. Knowing what their bitter and twisted minds were capable of conjuring up as punishment if I didn't obey was enough to send me into battle.
Paula Allen

I never wanted it. I was never paid for it. Lelia Doolan drove me around the bend. They wanted to play all the good pictures before we released them.
Leo Ward

In 1997, Oscar Winner Anthony Minghella had been through it all - the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the nine Oscars etc. - but I'll always remember that nervous expectation that broke into a broad smile and swept across his face as I led him into the Rowing Club.
Antony Sellers

Gillo Pontecorovo running up and down the Hill of Doon outside Oughterard (despite a bad heart) shouting "magnifique" on a sunny day as he looked across the Corrib. No names mentioned, we had one guest who had a little too much to drink and got totally confused as to where he was staying. He arrived at the guest house, went up stairs , stripped off his clothes and jumped into bed much to the horror of the elderly couple already occupying the bed. Uproar ensued and our guest realised it wasn't even the guest house he was suppose to be staying in. He told the entire story to the audience before the screening of his film, the Oscar nominated 'Children of Nature'. (He was at the Fleadh again this year)
Bobby Cutlar

Paddling through stale beer in the Claddagh Tent to reach Marianne Faithful and convince her that she should be doing another interview and convincing her also how glamorous our festivals are. Grovelling around the floor of the 'press office' in the Town Hall with Emanuel Levy of 'Variety' searching for stills and telling him with a straight face that this is the best organised we have ever been!
Alison Herbert

Only the Galway Film Fleadh could make a cinema out of a car park and a tree.
Stephen Kane

That will give you some taste of what the last ten years have been all about and as they say themselves "That's only the half of it"

Michael McMahon 15/7/98



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