3 December 2022 The Irish Film & Television Network
‘Mary McAleese & The Man Who Saved Europe’ to air on RTÉ and BBC in coming weeks
18 Nov 2015 : Seán Brosnan
Documentary will air on RTÉ One, BBC One and BBC2 Northern Ireland
‘Mary McAleese & The Man Who Saved Europe’ is a new RTÉ and BBC documentary, funded by the BAI and written, directed and produced by Declan McGrath (‘Seinn Liom’, ‘Cad É An Scéal’) and is set to air on RTÉ One, BBC One and BBC Northern Ireland in the coming weeks.

It features former president Mary McAleese returning to television to uncover the story of a man that she argues is not only one of the most important Irishmen who ever lived but one of the most important Europeans – Columbanus.

The film, which premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh earlier this year, sees the former president traveling to Bangor and Glendalough to discover how a cultural revolution in 6th century Ireland shaped such a man. Professor McAleese then travels through France, Austria, Switzerland and Italy, to uncover Columbanus’ legacy. She discovers that the ultimate relevance of Columbanus’ story is how it shows the benefits of being hospitable to the “other.” She argues that the core of his philosophy is an openness to diversity that offers a solution to the problems of the often fractured Europe of today.

Two versions of the film have been made, one in English and one in Irish - called ‘Mary McAleese & An Chéad Eorpach’. The English language film will screen on RTÉ One on Tuesday 24th November at 10.15pm and then on BBC One on Sunday 29th November at 10pm. The Irish language version was made for BBC NI and the ILBF. It will be screened on BBC2 NI on Sunday 22nd November at 10.00am.

Main shoot photography was by Mark McAuley (A City Dreaming, Extreme World – Ross Kemp). Reconstruction photography was by Mark Garrett (Dr Who, Silent Witness, Boogaloo and Graham), Production Design by Ashleigh Jeffers (Game of Thrones, The Frankenstein Chronicles). Grade was by Eugene McCrystal of EMC and the sound mix by Michael McKnight at the Cats Whisker. It is a Clean Slate TV Production, producer David Kilpatrick.

International sales of the film are being handled by London agents TVF. The international version is called Columbanus:The Man Who United Europe.

Director and Producer, Declan McGrath says: “Columbanus is a fascinating character, perhaps the greatest Irishman who ever lived. He is the first Irishman to have left behind a body of written work, and also the first Irishman to be the subject of a biography. But his real legacy lies beyond Ireland and in what he achieved traveling through a ‘dark age’ continental Europe, where the civilization of the Roman Empire had collapsed. And it is a legacy that has an urgently relevant message for today’s fractured Europe.”

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