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Our Favourite Irish Creative Projects of 2022

Words: Eva O’Beirne, Ellen Kenny
Images: Showtime Documentary Films, @shvne.jpg, Motherland, @juliaagodfrey, Dublin Fringe Festival, Niamh Barry, Inscéal

Words: Eva O’Beirne, Ellen Kenny
Images: Showtime Documentary Films, @shvne.jpg, Motherland, @juliaagodfrey, Dublin Fringe Festival, Niamh Barry, Inscéal

From revelatory documentaries to exhilarating performances, we’re looking back on the best projects from Irish filmmakers, visual artists, and more.

In 2022, Irish artists from all mediums showcased the very best talent and passion this island has to offer. From photography to fashion, stage to film, these individual projects tested the boundaries of their chosen field. As well as being exquisitely and carefully created, many of these projects broke new grounds and gained international recognition, showing the world that Ireland is a creative force to be reckoned with. We’ve put together a list to celebrate some of the incredible Irish projects.

07

Nothing Compares

Sinead O’Connor deserves an apology, and this documentary is a good first step towards that. Belfast-born director Kathryn Ferguson’s Nothing Compares is a respectful, moving and empathetic documentary about Sinead O’Connor’s early career. Nothing Compares shows that O’Connor is a survivor, an icon who paved the way for other musicians and pop stars to speak out against injustice.

Ferguson, who previously worked with O’Connor for her music video “4th and Vine” in 2012, uses O’Connor’s early discography to frame Ireland’s changing identity as a nation throughout the late 80s and early 90s, resulting in a powerful message on how far we’ve come but also how far we’ve yet to go.

Image: Showtime Documentary Films
06

Bang on the Door

Finding Irish fashion designers to support is a blessing. Finding Irish fashion designers bringing back Irish nostalgia is a miracle. In 2022, SADSAC clothes designer Daniel Walters and Bang on the Door co-founder Karen Duncan relaunched the brand behind Groovy Chick and Friends.

A labour of love and nostalgia, the Bang on the Door revival celebrates one of the most iconic characters for Irish people growing up in the 90s and early 2000s. Taking the Groovy Chick from your lunchbox and pencil cases to a slick t-shirt, Bang on the Door hits nostalgia in just the right place.

Image: @shvne.jpg
Image: @shvne.jpg
05

Call Me Mommy

Call Me Mommy is an intimate and unapologetic documentary of a mature online sex worker, Sinead O’Connell as she grapples with her career and motherhood all while processing her own internal ‘mommy issues’.

This explosive and emotional short film was directed by Tara O’Callaghan and produced by Motherland. Selected for the renowned Krakow Film Festival, one of the oldest and most respected Oscar-qualifying film festivals, the documentary explores the theme of motherhood and the many places it can appear.

Image: Motherland

O’Callaghan compresses the complexities of sex work, toxic relationships and womanhood into a few short minutes of content, but the lasting impact of this short film is immeasurable.

04

RASHHIIID

Rachel Maguire’s brand RASHHIIID is barely a year old, yet her designs have appeared on the pages of DAZED and Elle, as well as on a host of celebrities such as Doja Cat, Ariana Grande, Rosalia, Addison Rae and Vanessa Hudgens (just to name a few).

Image: Doja Cat

Known for her faux fur hats, headbands and leg warmers, Maguire’s brand teases the line of practicality and ridiculousness. All created from her parent’s garage, her bold designs are irresistible to the eye – we can’t wait to see what she does next.

03

Oliver Cromwell Is Really Very Sorry

This queer, musical retelling of the life of the man known as the boogeyman of Ireland’s history made a splash at Dublin Fringe Fest this year. Following five Irish LGBTQ friends who set off on a quest to find Oliver Cromwell’s severed head, the play deals with the topics of cancel culture, astrology, UK politics and much more.

Written by and starring Anthony Keigher, we can only hope that this interesting take on Ireland’s colonial past comes back to our theatres soon.

Image: Dublin Fringe Festival
02

No Queer Apologies

“No Queer Apologies” by Niamh Barry is simultaneously a call for solidarity and a call to action due to its roots in Ireland’s queer community and collaborative elements.

Examining the queer experience in both public and private spheres, Barry originally released this collection of photographs as an exhibition in February but re-launched it during the summer of 2022 alongside a beautiful photo book of the series.

Image: Niamh Barry

Through her work, Barry “magnifies queer Irish identities through portraiture and documentary photography, conveying the intimate moments and emotions of queer life in a country marked by the rigid sexual mores of Catholicism” and hopes to “shed a humanising light on Ireland’s queer citizens, especially those that do not fit within traditional notions of Irish femininity, masculinity, or sexuality”.

Barry is currently fundraising for her new film photography show “Now & Forever, Interpersonally Queer” which will launch at All My Friends pub, Meath Street on Friday, December 9. You can donate to the exhibition here.

01

An Cailín Ciúin

When it comes to Irish creations in 2022, none became so successful or celebrated Irish culture so much as “An Cailín Ciúin”, written and directed by Colm Bairéad. Set in 1981, the film follows a withdrawn nine-year-old girl who experiences a loving home for the first time when she spends the summer on a farm with distant relatives in Waterford. A carefully-created coming of age story, “An Cailín Ciúin” is a moving tale of found family and self-discovery.

Although based on an English novel, Bairéad chose to write the film as Gaeilge, adding another level to an already-dazzling story. While Irish people can often feel disconnected from their native tongue, “An Cailín Ciúin” helps to put the language into perspective, through the eyes of a nine year old girl. What unfurls is a beautiful, poetic tale of loss, kinship and newfound identity as our main character rediscovers herself and her relationships in a new language.

Breaking box office records for Irish language film and becoming a strong contender for best foreign language film in the Oscars, “An Cailín Ciúin” put Irish back on the map and gave the country something to be proud of.

Image: Inscéal

Elsewhere on District: District’s Favourite Community Projects of 2022

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