Studying abroad opens your world to new cultures and experiences and in this blog Xining Wang, an international student at IT Carlow, shares two must-see Irish films and introduces us to Carlow native and Academy Award nominee, Saoirse Ronan…

In the process of my study abroad, from the books I have read, songs I have listened to and films I have watched, the experience of these two distinct Irish films have already become a precious memory in my life, and will always remain in my heart.

Before I came to Ireland, I had read an article by a famous Chinese writer, Dun Mao, named Modern Literature Reflects in Irish New Literature. From then on, I acquired a keen interest in this country. This includes the history, art, wine and music. After nearly one year of preparation, I finally received the admission acceptance from Institution Technology of Carlow.

Postgraduate life in IT Carlow has made me learn more about my field, but also has broadened my horizons in Irish culture and in particular Irish films.

On a gloomy day of scattered showers, I arrived in Carlow. Everything was new to me in that moment, but this clean town was impressive and it made me feel peaceful. My course is MA of Child, Youth and Family Studies, this course offers a wide range of social sciences, contemporary issues and design disciplines. In addition to my studies, there are a variety of social activities in IT Carlow. Clubs and Societies play an important role in the social and cultural development of students. Because of the Drama Society, I have an opportunity to learn about Irish films. My club-mates recommended several excellent Irish films to me, and today I will introduce you to two of my favourite popular Irish films and a pretty Irish actress!

This first film Is named ‘Once’. The story of the hero is a street performer in Dublin, he is a singer with his own individual style, who never plays pop songs to grab the attention of the audience. He is immersed in his own musical world and is never disturbed by the surrounding environment, however, when he suddenly meets a women standing in front of him, his life changes in that moment. He is an amateur signer without a stable job, while she is a single mother who is interested in playing the piano. They know each other because of music, they create, rehearse, record, and tell a moving love story with music. The film is not a romantic love story, but it touched my heart with the sense of reality and warmth of the music. From this film, you get a glimpse of the streets of Dublin, and the gorgeous landscapes of Western Ireland. More importantly, you can explore the fantastic Irish songs featured in the movie.

The MA of Child, Youth and Family Studies at IT Carlow offers a wide range of social sciences, contemporary issues and design disciplines

I will now move onto the second film called ‘August Rush’. It tells us how a young and charming Irish guitarist meets a sheltered young cellist on a magical night above New York’s Washington Square. They share an amazing night together but are soon torn apart, leaving in their wake an infant, August Rush, who is orphaned by the circumstances.

Under the arrangement of the destiny, the young boy performs on the streets of New York and is cared for by a mysterious stranger, August uses his remarkable musical talent to seek the parents from whom he was separated at birth. It is quite a simple story but with unique music elements in it. Guitar, Cello, Symphony and the story itself gives the audience a memorable and unique experience. Although this story happened in United States, the director is an Irish woman called Kirsten Sheridan who was also nominated for an Academy Award for co-writing the semi-autobiographical film In America.

Similarly, a famous actress, Saoirse Ronan, (who grew up in Carlow) was nominated for an Academy Award. She is the youngest nominee in the history of the Academy Awards. After my club-mate mentioned Saoirse Ronan to me, I found that she is a smart and pretty Irish actress with an incredible talent. The most famous film she has performed in is called Atonement (2007), and the latest one she has featured in is called Brookly (2015). Both films have been well received by critics.

Postgraduate life in IT Carlow has made me learn more about my field, but also has broadened my horizons in Irish culture and in particular Irish films. Just as I was losing interest in the cliché Hollywood movies, the unique Irish film industry has become a fun interest for me to pursue outside of my college life. If you are a girl like me who is interested in Irish culture, do not hesitate in joining the diversity societies in your college. You deserve to discover these two films to enhance your study life with these rich cultural experiences.