Seams will be an imaginative oral history film, bringing a human face to conflict by focusing on the memories and lives of elderly Irish women from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland who witnessed, from each side of the border, eight decades of bitter conflict and conflict resolution between Britain and Ireland.
The film will re-imagine the stories of fifteen women from across the island of Ireland through interviews, archival footage, and hand drawn, stop-motion animation. The story will center on the women’s experience of the Second World War, a pivotal moment in the history of Anglo-Irish relations. The conflict occurred only twenty years after the Irish Free State won independence in 1921, which resulted in a bloody civil war in 1922 over the partitioning of the six counties of Northern Ireland. The Irish Free State was neutral during the Second World War, while Northern Ireland, still a part of Britain, was actively at war. The South was neutral in order to separate from British affairs and to establish an independent, nationalist identity, but neutrality was also a point of contention with their partitioned neighbors. Despite the neutral stance of the Free State government, thousands of Irish men and women joined the British Forces. Soldiers returning to the South at the end of the war were very often seen as traitors and deserters by their fellow countrymen. Only recently have they been able to talk about their experiences during the war.
The women in the film were born during the tumultuous time of the 1920’s, and they began their adult lives during the Second World War. Many of them participated in the war as soldiers in the British Forces, factory workers in Northern Ireland’s linen mills, or medical professionals. Some of the women were young mothers dealing with the difficult circumstances of the war, such as blackouts, rationing, and the bombings in Belfast and Dublin. The stories they share provide a poignant glimpse of the experiences of women in wartime, an aspect of history that we too often overlook. Seams will give elderly Irish women from each side of the border a platform to remember and to be remembered.
Dr. Mary Muldowney is a research adviser to the project. Her book, The Second World War and Irish Women: An Oral History was the first comprehensive look at the war's impact on the lives of Irish women. She is an authority on oral history in Ireland and founding member of the Oral History Network of Ireland.
Images Couresy of the Imperial War Museum, London