Thumbs up for ‘A Finglas Story’ from near and far

by Rose Barrett
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‘A Finglas Story’ – a three-part documentary about the fast-growing Dublin suburb – has received a ‘thumbs up’ from the community at the heart of the programme.

But it’s also been viewed across the world and so far, filmmaker Declan Cassidy is chuffed with the very positive response.

The multi-award-winning filmmaker is a native of Finglas himself. The three half-hour episodes chart the history of the suburb from the mid 1900s, when it was a sleepy, rural village of three to four hundred people, through the Dublin Corporation housing schemes of the 50’s and 70’s, which saw the population explode to a peak of over 53,000 in 1979 and to the present day when, in a multicultural Finglas, one out of six inhabitants do not class themselves as Caucasian Irish.

“While the three half-hour episodes are about Finglas, the story they tell is really the story of so many satellite villages in Dublin that were swallowed up as the city expanded,” said Declan. Many other urban communities will identify with the fast changes and social challenges Finglas faced, as the infrastructures lagged behind.

RTE’s Samantha Libreri is one of the Finglassians interviewed

The mini-series includes interviews with notable Finglassians such as author and poet Dermot Bolger and RTE news presenter Samantha Libreri as well as a score written by Tony Barrett of Finglas band “The Brilliant Trees”.  Samantha published a book on notable Finglas people with Darren Kinsella, the photographer who worked for Declan’s newspaper The Finglas Forum in the 90’s. “Samantha got her first job in journalism as a 12 year old with me, writing the children’s column!” said Declan.

With its first public screening last month, at a DCC-funded premiere in the historic St Canice’s COI, the event was attended by local dignitaries and participants in the making of the programme. It was then broadcast on Dublin Community Television (DCTV), which is available to Virgin Media subscribers on Channel 802. It is furthermore available on YouTube where all three episodes can be viewed at

“My Dad was an artist and community activist in Finglas,” explained Declan, “and it rubbed off on all of us. The second episode of ‘A Finglas Story’ is called ‘Growing Pains’ and it covers the period when we were growing up. The population had boomed but facilities were slow to follow, so there were a lot of teething problems and the media latched onto that. I remember being told that if we wanted to have a chance with a job application, we should not use Finglas as the address.”

‘A Finglas Story’ was funded by Coimisiún na Meán under the Sound and Vision initiative, with a further contribution from Finglas Credit Union and broadcast support from DCTV.

Directors father, James Cassidy, in Finglas during the 1950’s

“It wouldn’t have been possible to make the series without that support,” reveals Cassidy. “The Sound and Vision scheme allows people like me to make programmes that are important but not commercial. DCTV provide a platform for individuals or community groups to get their programme broadcast on television. I feel community media has never played such an important role in letting communities speak for themselves.”

The TVIE YouTube channel that is now showing all three episodes has slowly but surely started to gather followers.

“While DCTV provides an amazing service, not everyone has Virgin Media, so TVIE allows me to make the programmes that I produce available to anyone, anywhere with an internet connection. There are Finglassians all over the world, and I’ve been getting feedback from far flung places since ‘A Finglas Story’ appeared on the channel.”

Another recent project of Cassidy’s is “Romancing Ireland” – a six-part climate action food series that sees non Irish nationals challenged to cook the favourite dish of their home countries, but restricted to using only Irish ingredients.

“In the last available census, there were five non-Irish national communities that were growing – Brazilian, French, Italian, Romanian and Spanish – and they are all Latin, or ‘romance’ language speakers. That gave us the name – Romancing Ireland.”

The first episode premieres on the TVIE YouTube channel at 3pm on Sunday, October 15 and subsequent episodes showing at the same time for the following five Sundays.

See for more info on Declan’s projects.

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