The 2019 Best Documentary Award at the Irish Film Festival London was presented to 'Cumar – A Galway Rhapsody' a film by Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, NUI Galway’s Aodh Ó Coileáin. Cumar – A Galway Rhapsody’ examines the influence of Galway city and Connemara on seven artists of varied fields. 

In turn the lens focuses on the impact of these artists’ work on the place where they live.  The artists featured in the film include: musician/composer Máirtín O’Connor, poet/playwright Rita Ann Higgins, novelist Mike McCormack, Noeline Kavanagh, artistic director of Macnas, singer song-writer, Róisín Seoighe, visual artist, Pádraic Reaney and comedian, Tommy Tiernan.  The film is scored by Galway composer Jake Morgan while Galway Street Club make a guest appearance with their own brand of music.

Receiving the award at the Irish Embassy in London, Ó Coileáin said: "It is of particular significance to be selected for this award in London, a city so central to Irish artistic endeavour.  In the years following the Second World War, many of our musicians and artists came here to make a living:  Joe Heaney from Carna, Piper Willie Clancy from Milltown Malbay, singer Margaret Barry from Cork, Fiddle player Bobby Casey from Annagh in Co. Clare, Julia Clifford and Con Curtin from my own home county of Kerry, Flute player, Roger Sherlock, from Sligo who played in the White Hart, Fulham Broadway on Sunday mornings.  Druid’s performance of ‘The Playboy of the Western World’ at the Donmar Warehouse Theatre, Covent Garden in 1985 was a milestone in Irish Theatre.  Many Galway International Arts Festival shows have transferred here.  It’s against this rich background that ‘Cumar – A Galway Rhapsody’ screens in London."

Founder and Director of Irish Film London, Kelly O’Connor said: "We really loved the film and think it will become a long-standing document of the intrinsic essence and influence of Galway. We can't wait to see how audiences respond to it here in London."

The film was conceived and directed by Aodh Ó Coileáin who is Programme Director of the MA (Cleachtas Gairniúil sna Meáin) and also teaches on the BA (Cumarsáid agus Gaeilge) programme at NUI Galway’s Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge.  The film was produced by Paddy Hayes of Tua Films and premiered to critical acclaim at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh, it also screened at a film festival in Chicago last September.  It will air on TG4 at a later date. 

What the critics said:

"Cumar: A Galway Rhapsody is a timely, engaging and at times provocative reflection on Galway (city and county) as a distinctive place from the perspective of some of the city and county’s leading creative figures." Seán Crosson, Film Ireland.

"Cumar – A Galway Rhapsody is another beautiful example of art that is thriving in one of our last magical cities." Dave Higgins, Scannáin.

"As an ode to the artistic essence of its location it is an essential example all in itself; other places have had their city symphonies, here at last is Galway’s own cinematic sean-nós." Ronan Doyle, Scannáin.

‘Cumar – A Galway Rhapsody’ is the project which was selected for the 2017 ilDÁNA commission.  The ilDÁNA scheme is an opportunity for documentary filmmakers to make a landmark, cinematic documentary on the arts in Irish.  ilDÁNA is a partnership between TG4, the Arts Council, and the BAI in association with Galway Film Centre.