Thursday 21 February 2019

'Captivated' filmmaker to bring 'The Year The Whales Came In' to the silver screen

Local solicitor Simon Kennedy with Minister Eamonn O Cuiv as he launched 'The Year The Whales Came In' back in 2004.
Local solicitor Simon Kennedy with Minister Eamonn O Cuiv as he launched 'The Year The Whales Came In' back in 2004.

A FEATURE film is to be made next year based on the nationally acclaimed book 'The Year the Whales Came In' by local solicitor Simon Kennedy.

Gerard Barrett, award winning screenwriter and filmmaker, is to write and direct this independent production scheduled for next year.

The book gives the background to the case of how the love of Sean Cloney, a Catholic, for Sheila (nee Kelly), a Protestant, and their children 50 years ago divided the Fethard community on both religious and political grounds in a case that became known as 'The Fethard Boycott'.

The promoters have issued a limited number of copies of the book, which was first published five years ago, to bookshops in anticipation of interest in the film and two new books authored by Simon Kennedy are due to be published next year and in 2011.

When filmmaker Gerard Barrett read 'The Year The Whales Came In', he was immediately captivated by the story of the '50s when 36 pilot whales died on a Wexford beach diverting attention from a different drama unfolding in the nearby village.

Within a month of reading the book, he had produced the first draft of the screenplay.

'The book captivated me totally for a full two days. I could not put it down. The imagery that was in the book and the way it was told made it very easy for me as a screenwriter to adapt it. I feel in these times we now live in, this book is so relevant,' said Gerard.

Shooting of the film is scheduled for late 2010 and will be done mainly in the Waterford and Wexford areas.

Solicitor Simon Kennedy first came to national prominence when he acted in a landmark case in 1983 for the late Eileen Flynn who sued a religious community for unfair dismissal arising from her relations with a separated married man.

He caused witness summons for attendance at court to be issued against the Bishop Laurence Forrestal, Bishop of Ossory, the Archbishop of Dublin Dr. Dermot Ryan and the cardinal primate of all Ireland, Cardinal Tomas Ó Fiach. Only the local bishop attended.

When child sexual abuse cases came to the fore in the 1990s and prosecutions of priests for child sexual abuse were pursued by the State, Mr. Kennedy was the first to take a civil suit on behalf of the victims, citing as defendant, not alone the offending priests who had been prosecuted, but their bishops who were not prosecuted.

Controversially for the first time also, he cited the Papal Nuncio, Dr. Luciano Storero, as a defendant with bishops and priests alleging that responsibility for these matters rested with the Pope and Holy See.

The Papal Nuncio claimed diplomatic immunity. This was the first time the presence of the Pope was represented in Irish legal proceedings of this nature. The events overtook matters and finalized with the BBC television documentary 'Suing the Pope'.

Shortly afterwards Simon was asked to become part of an international delegation to the UN Head Quarters in New York which met with a rapporteur of the UN Convention on the rights of the child in Spring 2002. Following that meeting the delegation were invited to address the full committee at the UN Human Rights headquarters in Geneva in Autumn 2002.

At a press conference in Rome, Mr. Kennedy hand delivered a letter addressed to the Pope at St. Peter's arising from the fact that several previous letters to the Pope had gone unanswered.