Archive of films The Boys from County Clare / The Boys from County Clare

Ireland / United Kingdom
2003, 90 min

Section: Official Selection - Out of Competition
Year: 2004

The MacMahon brothers haven’t seen each other for a long time. They grew up in Western Ireland where their father taught them to play the violin, but their paths since diverged. But the County Clare music competition brings the family back together once again. It’s time to settle accounts. . . . 


The year is 1926. In County Clare, Western Ireland Mr. MacMahon is teaching his three boys to play traditional Irish music on the violin. Forty years on Jimmy MacMahon lives in Liverpool where he performs at local night clubs with his band. One of the young musician in the group is the likeable Teddy, a demon on the flute. Jimmy’s older brother, John Joe MacMahon stayed home in Ireland and now looks after a small family farm, but he too has a band. The lovely and talented Anne plays violin for John Joe and her no less attractive mother, Maisie, plays piano. Everyone would like to win the upcoming yearly County Clare music competition, even Jimmy who is on his way back home. The brothers haven’t seen each other for years and between them a palpable tension, even animosity, reigns. During the competition old wounds reopen, and Anne, who is experiencing true love for the first time, finds out who her real father is. She reproaches her mother for concealing the truth for so many years, and she and Teddy decide to take off for Liverpool. This year’s winners are not local Irish musicians but an unknown group from South Africa. The leader, Padjo, is the middle MacMahon brother, a onetime missionary who has now returned home. The fraternal trio finally sit down at one table again together and take up the violin – just as they used to do so long ago.

About the director

John Irvin (b. 1940, Newcastle-upon-Thyne) returns in this film to Ireland. He has made numerous movies to date including the boxing drama Shiner (2000), the WW2 story Where Trumpets Fade (1998, TV), the crime drama City of Industry (1997), the love story A Month by the Lake (1995), an Irish comedy thriller entitled Widow’s Peak (1994) and the Vietnam War tale Hamburger Hill (1987). The director said about his film: ‘The film is a journey of rediscovery and reunion. It is about family values in the true sense. A story earthed in the complexities of sibling rivalry and jealous parents and a breakdown of prejudices and anger. At the center of the movie is this journey of union and reunion which is taken by the two generations portrayed in the film. The Boys from County Clare is a testimony to the power of music and it is about brotherly love and the Irish spirit.’ Irvin is currently winding up work on the thriller The Dinosaur.


First Look Media
8000 Sunset Blvd., East Penthouse, CA 900 45, Los Angeles
United States of America
Tel: +1 323 337 1000
Fax: +1 323 337 1037
E-mail: [email protected]

About the film

Color, 35 mm
European premiere

Section: Official Selection - Out of Competition
Director: John Irvin
Screenplay: Nicholas Adams
Dir. of Photography: Thomas Burstyn
Music: Fiachra Trench
Editor: Ian Crafford
Producer: Evzen Kolar
Production: Studio Hamburg Worldwide Pictures
Cast: Colm Meaney, Bernard Hill, Andrea Corr, Philip Barantini, Charlotte Bradley, Shaun Evans, Patrick Bergin
Contact: First Look Media


John Irvin

Film Director

Evžen Kolář


Bernard Hill

Colm Meaney


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