This finely crafted feature, the first to be made entirely in Ireland, is now presented with a score by one of Ireland’s leading composers.
Irish Destiny (1926) occupies a very special place in the history of indigenous Irish film production. It was the first fiction film to deal with the War of Independence and had formers members of the IRA amongst its cast members. Indeed Kit O'Malley (himself the one-time Adjutant of the Dublin Brigade of the IRA) acted as military advisor to the production. Irish Destiny was the first and only film written and produced by Isaac (Jack) Eppel, a Dublin GP and pharmacist who also enjoyed a career as theatre impresario and cinema owner.
The film’s dramatised sequences were shot in Dublin, Wicklow and at Shepherd's Bush Studios, London, in 1925. The interwoven newsreel sequences had been filmed during the sacking of Cork in December 1920 and Dublin’s Customs House in May 1921. The film premiered at the Corinthian Cinema on Easter Sunday 1926 - timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Easter Rising. It was reviewed in glowing terms in the newspapers of the day “Irish Destiny contains the highest elements of art, action, scenery and photography. It is a triumph for Irish enterprise!” (Dublin Evening Mail 10/4/1926).
With the advent of the sound era the film disappeared from public view and it wasn’t until the early 1990s when the fledgling Irish Film Archive mounted an international search for the film that original 35mm print was unearthed in the vaults of the Library of Congress in Washington, where it had lain undisturbed since it was deposited there in 1927.
The print was restored and with the support of the Arts Council a score was then commissioned from Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin which would breathe new life into this heretofore silent film. In 1993 the restored film was screened in the National Concert Hall with full orchestral performance of Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin’s score to enormous public and critical acclaim. 2006 saw a reprise of the live orchestral presentation of Irish Destiny in the National Concert Hall.
The presentation of the film with score in Brussels in the magnificent setting of Flagey reunites Ó Súilleabháin in performance with conductor Proinnisas O Duinn working for the first time with the Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie.
A note on the score by Composer Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin
"I wrote the music for Irish Destiny some thirty years after Seán Ó Riada wrote the score for Mise Éire (1959) – a time when self-pride was a necessary stage on the path to self-esteem; and Ó Riada's score for this film is unequivocal in its emotions. He, in turn, wrote that score thirty years after Irish Destiny was made – so in a sense this work salutes both those moments, drawing wisdom from them both.
My hopes for the music are that it is questioning without being apologetic; that it is proud without being arrogant; that above all else, it praises the human spirit of freedom in whatever tradition it is found."
Listen to "Hope" one of the parts of Irish Destiny's live orchestral score.
Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin is one of Ireland's foremost musicians and composers.