Ireland, 2005

Director: Pat Collins; screenplay: Donal Gilligan; editing: Isobel Stephenson; music: Eamon Little; producers: Philip King, Tina Moran; production companies: Harvest Films, Hummingbird Productions.

Running time: 54’

Best Documentary – Irish Film & Television Awards 2005


Completed a year before his passing, Collins’ exploration of (arguably) the defining Irish writer of the modern era was filmed just prior to the publication of McGahern’s acclaimed memoirs, which form the backbone of this definitive portrait of the man’s life and times. It’s a testimony to the director’s skill and sensitivity as both interviewer and filmmaker that he gets the reluctant McGahern to open up on camera. Through the film, a strong and compelling sense of the man emerges, offering a rare insight into his creative process.


Born in Cork, film critic, festival director and then filmmaker, Pat Collins has directed more than 30 films. The documentary Gabriel Byrne: Stories from Home was presented at IrishFilmFesta in 2008. His other documentaries are dedicated to film director Abbas Kiarostami, Irish writers Frank O’Connor and John McGahern, poetess Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, writer and cartographer Tim Robinson (Tim Robinson: Connemara, presented at IrishFilmFesta in 2012). His first narrative film was Silence (2012), followed by Song of Granite (IrishFilmFesta 2018). After two more documentaries, Henry Glassie: Fieldwork (2019) and The Dance (2020), Collins directed That May Face the Rising Sun, based on John McGahern’s latest novel and world premiered at the London Film Festival last October.