Song of Granite (2017) - full transcript

Acclaimed filmmaker Pat Collins brings the dramatic life story of legendary seannós singer Joe Heaney to the screen in THE SONG IN GRANITE, an audacious exploration of the man and his music...

They were the first people
to settle in Ireland.

They had tremendous insight

and hidden knowledge of many things.

They had knowledge

of the future.

They could speak
the language of the birds.

They could see as the birds can see
from the sky above.

They could look over the whole land.


St. Ronan cursed him
because he killed one of his clerics.

From a vision he saw in the sky,

he heard the noise
of the upcoming battle and fled.

Part of the curse was
that he could not endure sharp sounds.

He flew from the scene of battle
in a frenzy.

He spent years hopping from tree to tree,

for he couldn't set foot on land again.

And, like the birds,
he could never trust humans again.

Gloomy this life...

to be without a soft bed.

Abode of cold frost.

Roughness of wind-driven snow.

Cold, icy wind.

Shadow of a feeble sun.

Shelter from a single tree

on the summit of a tableland.

Who created you?

God created me.

What else did God create?

God created all things.

Where is God?

God is everywhere.

Can you see God?

No, you cannot see God,
but he can always see me.

Very good.

Does God know all things?

Yes, God knows all things.

- Past. ..
- Past, present, and tomorrow.

Even our most secret thoughts and actions.

Well done.

Will God judge
our most secret thoughts and actions?

Yes, every idle word that men shall speak,

we'll render an account for it
on the day of judgment.

Good work.

We'll do another bit tomorrow.

Now, you were all
to learn a song from home.

Who will go first?



Come up and sing the song
you learned at home, good man.

I know you're dying to sing for us.

Come along, Joe.

Well done. Good boy.

Didn't he sing well?

Now, from now on,

when you're singing, open your mouth.

Like this. Open wide.

Very good.

And sing out every note clearly.

Imagine you had to get
a hen's egg into your mouth.

Open it up.

Good man. Now, sit down.

This one won't budge.

Neither will this one.

There are loads of periwinkles.

Good lad.

That's it.

Throw it out quick.

Good lad.

- I have it.
- Good man.

Now, haul it in.

Haul it in.

That's it.

Good man yourself. That's it.

Use both hands.

That's it. Good man.

Do you have it?

- Need a hand?
- Maybe.

Hang on.

That was good.

Is it getting the better of you?

I can't do it.

Let's see now.

Hold the potato like so...

Place the potato between your thumb

and the knife like that.

Hold it with two fingers, either side,

and cut through it nice and easy.

Don't do it too hard...

or it'll catch your thumb.

See that?

Good man. Let's see you try that.

Don't be worried.
It'll come with age, child.

Nice and easy, in your own time.

Mind the fingers.

Good man yourself.

- Have you many left?
- A few.


Hey, Joe! Stop your carrying on!

For God's sake!

isn't your father a fine singer?

Would you sing me a song?

I could record your voice
with this device.

- What do you say?
- I only sing at home.

Isn't this your home?

Which songs do you like anyway?

I like “An tAmhrán Bréagach.”

And “Amhrán Rinn Mhaoile.”

“Amhrán Rinn Mhaoile”?

That's quite a difficult song
for a young lad, isn't it?

Do you know where they come from?

My dad sings them

and Colm an Bhlácaigh.


And where did they get them?

I suppose they go way back

to the poets who wrote them long ago,

but we still sing them.


Now, what would you say to that!

♪ Come all you loyal heroes ♪

♪ Wherever you may be ♪

♪ Don't hire with any master ♪

♪ Until you know ♪

♪ What your work will be ♪

♪ For you must rise up early ♪

♪ From the clear daylight till dawn ♪

♪ And I'm afraid I never will be able ♪

♪ To plow the rocks of bawn ♪

♪ My shoes, they are well worn ♪

♪ My stockings, they are thin ♪

♪ My heart is always trembling ♪

♪ Afraid I might give in ♪

♪ My heart is always trembling ♪

♪ From the clear daylight till dawn ♪

♪ And I'm afraid I never will be able ♪

♪ To plow the rocks of bawn ♪

- Here you are.
- Might as well.

Here, finish it!

Ah, geez.

- Might as well finish it!
- Throw it back, son.

- We don't have another bottle?
- No!

The one thing I suppose
that's lacking from my memories as a kid

is memories of my father,

because, um, there were just times
when for whatever reason,

he decided he wanted to be on the move.

Um, he would more or less
sort of just go at a moment's notice.

And I think most of the time
my mother wasn't quite sure

where he was or when he would come back.

He disappeared round about 1954 or '55,

by which stage I would be
about five years old.

Let's say four years old, rather.

He only reappeared when we moved
to King Street in Whitecrook.

That would probably be about early 1961.

We're ready, Joe.

Ah, here comes “The Rocks of Bawn,” huh?

♪ Ah, from there I got away
Me spirits never failin' ♪

♪ Landed on the quay ♪

♪ As the ship was sailing
Captain at me roared ♪

♪ Said that no room had he
When I jumped aboard ♪

♪ A cabin found for Paddy
Down among the pigs ♪

♪ Played some hearty rigs
I danced some hearty jigs ♪

♪ The water round me bubblin' ♪

♪ When off Holyhead
Wished meself was dead ♪

♪ Better far instead
I'm on the rocky road to Dublin ♪

♪ One, two, three, four, five
Hunt the hare and turn her ♪

♪ Down the rocky road
And all the way to Dublin ♪

♪ Hunt the hare and turn her
Down the rocky road ♪

♪ And all the way to Dublin ♪

♪ The boys of Liverpool
When we safely landed ♪

♪ Called myself a fool ♪

♪ I could no longer stand it
Blood began to boil ♪

♪ Temper I was losin'
Poor old Erin's Isle ♪

♪ They began abusin' ♪

♪ “Hurrah, me soul,” says I
Shillelagh, I let fly ♪

♪ Galway boys went by
Saw I was a-hobblin' ♪

♪ With a loud hooray
Joined in the affray ♪

♪ Quickly cleared the way
For the rocky road to Dublin ♪

♪ One, two, three, four, five
Hunt the hare and turn her ♪

♪ Down the rocky road
And all the way to Dublin ♪

♪ Hunt the hare
Turn her down the rocky road ♪

♪ And all the way to Dublin ♪




The mind has to be completely
blanked out

when you go into a song in sean nós,
no distractions.

Well, when you're focused on it,
when you're in the emotion of the song,

you won't hear or see
anything else around you.

- So, like, you're alone.
- You are. You are.

You're all alone
for those couple of verses.

♪ In Oranmore ♪

♪ In the County Galway ♪

♪ One summer's morning ♪

♪ In the month of May ♪

♪ He spied Colleen ♪

♪ She was tall and handsome ♪

♪ And she nearly
Stole his poor heart away ♪

♪ She wore no jewels ♪

♪ Nor costly diamonds ♪

♪ No paint or powder ♪

♪ Oh, none at all ♪

♪ She wore a bonnet ♪

♪ With red roses on it ♪

♪ And on her shoulder ♪

♪ Hung the Galway shawl ♪

♪ As they kept walkin' ♪

♪ They kept talkin' ♪

♪ Till his father's cottage
Came into view ♪

♪ Very soon his mother
Had the kettle boiling ♪

♪ But all he could think of
Was the Galway shawl ♪

♪ He sang “The Blackbird” ♪

♪ And “The Stack of Barley” ♪

♪ And “Rodney's Glory” ♪

♪ And “The Foggy Dew” ♪

♪ She sang each note
Like an Irish linnet ♪

♪ Till down her cheeks ♪

♪ Fell the tears like dew ♪

♪ She set off early a'

♪ Oh, next morning ♪

♪ To hit the road for Donegal ♪

♪ She kissed and hugged him ♪

♪ And then she left him ♪

♪ And she stole his heart ♪

♪ In her Galway shawl ♪


Mícheál Thaidhg bought
a new boat recently,

a trawler.

He'll do well around these parts.

You might never come back, Joe.

There's nothing left for me here.

I don't know...

I miss this place...

You always had your eye on the horizon.

♪ My young life has passed ♪

♪ Which makes me feel dreary ♪

♪ When in exile I'm cast ♪

♪ On the plains of the prairie ♪

♪ Come hunt the red man ♪

♪ The panther and the beaver♪

♪ And to gaze back with pride ♪

♪ On the bogs of Shanaheever ♪

I am the age of the Old Hag of Beara.

The age of Newgrange.

The age of the Great Deer.

I have 2,000 years
of that stinking sow that was Ireland

resonating in my ears,

in my mouth,

in my eyes,

in my head,

in my dreams.

These horses, each with the hammer
and sickle on their flanks,

they were the horses
of the Emir of Bokhara.

They were the Golden Horde,

Genghis Khan's cavalry.

They were also the slender brown horses

in my father's and grandfather's stories.

And who truly knows that they were not?

For no one knows through
what wild centuries roves back the rose.

You have a pretty good singing voice.

And what brought you to the States?

Um, I sang in a big show.

I came over to do a festival.
Newporg, in 1965

And do you sing with a band, or...?

No, I sing by myself

What's up, Joe?

Nothing's up. Everything is fine.

Boiled egg again, Joe?

It's very hard to eat
with you looking down my gob!

Cheer up, huh?

Late night last night?

Did you tell the super

about the water drip
in that one's apartment?

I'll tell him after lunch.

She left everything to her two dogs.

We sure got some kooks!

Trixie and Coco.

She told me she took them
to the merry-go-round one time

and they liked it very much.

♪ We'll see the priest this very morning ♪

♪ And tonight we'll lie
In our marriage bed ♪

♪ But the red-haired girl
She kept on smiling ♪

♪ “I'll go with you, young man”
She said ♪

♪ “We'll forget the priest
This very morning ♪

♪ And tonight we'll sleep
In Murphy's shed” ♪

♪ Keep your hands off red-haired Mary ♪

♪ Her and I are to be wed ♪

♪ We'll forget the priest
This very morning ♪

♪ And tonight we'll sleep
In Murphy's shed ♪

♪ Through the fair we roamed together ♪

♪ My black eye and her red hair ♪

♪ Smiling gently at the tinker ♪

♪ Oh, by God, we were the handsome pair ♪

♪ Keep your hands off red-haired Mary ♪

♪ Her and I are to be wed ♪

♪ We'll forget the priest
This very morning ♪

♪ And tonight we'll lie
In Murphy's shed ♪

Thank you very much.

Do you feel homesick here, Joe?


Sometimes not.

Why do you feel homesick?

It's hard, leaving your native land
and forgetting it.

Have you forgotten it?

That's not what I mean,
but forgetting the fun

and the people and the songs,

the music and the entertainments,
the races, things like that.

I've only been here
a little under three years.

But I was at
the Newport Folk Festival in 1966.

But I must say now, and back then too,

that the Clancy Brothers gave me
great help in getting those things.

- When you started here?