Sheer silence is often the best reaction possible to a film. No shuffling in seats, no fidgeting for phones. Just silence as the audience soaks up what’s happening onscreen.
Silence, and sniffling. That’s all you could hear at one point during a certain Galway Film Fleadh screening at the Town Hall Theatre last week.
On the big screen, there were men and women, all aged over 100, talking about their lives, their loves, their losses, their own deaths.
A remarkable documentary, ‘Older Than Ireland’ prompted plenty of giggles, but also that wonderful deafening cinema silence, and tears.
This warm documentary very simply shares the memories and views of 30 Irish centenarians, including the oldest Irish person ever on record, 113-year-old Kathleen Snavely and Ireland’s oldest man, 108-year-old Luke Dolan, along with a number from County Galway.
Speaking from lavish country manors, tiny city apartments, modest bungalows, farm houses and nursing homes, each speaks about Ireland’s history, and their own remarkable lives.
They share their early memories, their first kisses, their wedding days, their lives now. Some still driving, some still smoking, none claimed to have any great insight on the ‘meaning of life’, and would probably be aghast at the suggestion they did.
But these people saw the foundation of the State, and beyond it. They have seen what we have now become, seen that children don’t play anymore, only on computers. They have survived the deaths of their spouses and, in some cases, their children, hence the tears at the Town Hall.
This remarkable documentary shows that we should all take the time to listen to the stories of older people, stories which shed light on times lost, and on the things that will always remain important, like playing, laughing, loving.
And it reminds us that when we look back when we’re 80, 90, 100…we won’t want any regrets, and we’ll want good stories to tell.