72 Miles

Three young teenagers accept a lift from a man newly home from working abroad and are treated to a day to remember.

Genre: Drama

Length: 12:00

Free To View

4 out of 5 stars

Producer/s : Brian Stynes,

Director/s : Brian Stynes, 

Writer/s : Willie Joe Meally, 

Actor/s : Peter Mongan, John McCaffrey


Many miles ago

72 miles was the distance young Willie Joe Meally travelled one day back in 1962, going from his village to watch the all-Ireland hurling final in Dublin. This childhood adventure is no big drama, but a nostalgic and revealing look back at distant past, based on Meally’s memoir.

Some things were very different then, but we also sense past and present flowing together. Even the present-day scenes that top and tail the piece have a nostalgic feel, as old Willie – played by the writer himself – looks at fields once hidden by trees and hedgerows, and recalls his mother’s cooking and the smells that emerged through the kitchen window. “All windows have their own smell…” he says poetically. Later, more prosaically, his younger self points out that so too does the Dublin’s River Liffey.

The film conveys a feel of memory, with the picture all yellowed from age, crackled and textured, and with out-of-sync voices. It’s reminiscent of the recent film Bait. The sequences in Dublin and at the match make wonderful use of archive material, edited seamlessly into the narrative.  Equally effective is the reconstruction of home life, the meal cooked in an open pot over a coal fire, the miner’s lamp, the detail of dad’s accordion.

The focus on old Willie fading ghostlike into the landscape juxtaposes with the story of Toddy Brennan, who gave the boys the lift into Dublin. One stayed in Ireland, the other moved to England as part of the Irish diaspora. The film’s affection for its home can be seen as part of the cultural backlash against the all-pervading obsession with “urban”. It sits comfortably alongside films like Bait, The Levelling, and God’s Own Country. Working class is rural too, and has a multitude of poetic voices.

No screener available