EYE Cinema screening of The Peculiar Sensation of Being Pat Ingoldsby

"There is something healing about watching Ingoldsby, a man who is both outside of and ahead of his time, battling against the tide of 1960s (and onwards ) Irish conformity." The Irish Times

This Friday November 11, the EYE Cinema will begin showing The Peculiar Sensation of Being Pat Ingoldsby, a new documentary by photographer and filmmaker Seamus Murphy, on the inimitable Irish writer from Malahide, Pat Ingoldsby.

After a life of hosting children's TV shows, writing plays for the stage and radio, publishing books of short stories and working as a newspaper columnist, Pat withdrew from the mass media in the 90s, spending his time predominantly on poetry - writing, self-publishing and selling his collections on the streets of Dublin.

Given his early influences included American writer James Thurber (an imaginative American 'humorist' of the 20th century ) and Spike Milligan (comedic genius and writer ), it's easy to see how his wonderful imagination sparked writing of all types that veers away from the norm and instead lies within the realm of surreality.

Seamus Murphy, who has spent years documenting life around the world in places like Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Gaza, Lebanon and Peru, has been a fan of Pat for awhile.

"I created a film in 2013 called Home Is Another Place, in which I used two or three of Pat's poems". When Seamus was three, he glimpsed JFK on his visit to Dublin in 1963. The documentary explores some of the changes Ireland has undergone since the mid to late 20th century, and how these changes have affected the way he sees his home country.

Still fascinated by this time period and people like Pat who were its defining characters, he knew he wanted to make a film about him.

"Pat's generation were born in the 1940s. Consider all of that hysteria around World War II, and the freedom they were trying to achieve in a place like Ireland. Pat embraced artists who represented this freedom and he had a radio show on RTE, where he would play the most amazing records. He was a groundbreaking character, because he was writing poetry that sometimes centered around people who had things like mental health issues and mobility issues - he shocked people at the time. I really wanted to document that and introduce him to a new generation who I know would find him as fascinating as I do."

As we speak more about Pat's character and his work, an obvious comparison to be made is Flann O'Brien, and another more contemporary comparison is someone like Blindboy. Other Irish poets of the time like Heaney and Mahon had a noticeably different tone to Pat.

Seamus says: "His work is different to anything else from that time - and even to anything being written today. He has such a unique style, and such poetic ability. He's a real craftsman. In my opinion, he threatened the literary establishment in a way. He wasn't in it for the money or for his ego. RTE were terrified at the time, and really, they could have offered him a lot more opportunity worthy of his talent." And yet we are all aware of how conservative RTE have traditionally been, considering Father Ted had to be aired on Channel 4 for example.

"Pat was a real working writer. He was a journalist as well, he had his columns in the Evening Herald. He didn't necessarily fit into the poetry and wider 'arts' world, but he wasn't trying to fit in. Given this context, it's nice to see that the Museum of Literature Ireland have published a book of his poems." - (In Dublin they really tell you things – Pat Ingoldsby, Selected poems 1986–2021 – available exclusively at MoLI ).

Naturally, Pat's poems feature heavily in the film. "One of the difficulties I had was actually choosing the poems to include because there were so many amazing ones to pick from. I was able to tell the story of his life through the poems, which was my intention - the poems act as a narrative thread."

Initially, Pat wasn't going to be interviewed for the film at all - Seamus planned on using recordings of his voice reading the poetry. But it sounds as though Pat and Seamus struck up a trusting friendship, and Pat decided to be interviewed after he recognised the thoughtful and careful making of a film that would be a true record of his work. "He did a number of interviews, which were fantastic. I also spoke to three or four other people who are very close to him and who know him well, which gave more great insight."

What poems stand out for Seamus in particular? "One satirical poem of his is called 'Vagina in the Vatican', and it's a real classic. It's about a little vagina that sneaks past vagina detectors in the Vatican and isn’t recognised by the cardinals, because of course they've never seen one. In the film, Pat recites this poem at home, lying on a beanbag by the fire, surrounded by his books."

Another poem Seamus mentions is about Pat getting polio - 'Words to the Virus Which Found Me In 1942'. "He talks to the virus and asks it how it was that it chose Pat and not others in his house. Did it creep in and decide to come to his door, and if so, why his?" Pat almost scolds the virus in the poem and acknowledges plainly the hardships it caused, but ends it on a sweetly defiant note - 'I would like to know your name. Mine is Pat. I played soccer in spite of you and I was good.'

The Peculiar Sensation of Being Pat Ingoldsby premieres in Galway in The EYE Cinema on Friday November 11. Get your tickets here: www.eyecinema.ie


Page generated in 0.2495 seconds.