- By Nuala McCann
- BBC News IS
Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Jenny Donkey walk into a bar…
Well, it’s not such a funny story – or as anyone who’s seen Martin McDonagh’s acclaimed film The Banshees of Inisher can attest.
But now the pub where much of the film’s action is set has been saved from the scrapheap by a public servant.
Film buffs and tourists alike can sample a pint at JJ Devine’s pub, where Colin, Brendan and Jenny showed off their acting chops during the filming of the Oscar-nominated film, which was rebuilt in County Galway.
Devines made the long journey in a lorry from Achill Island, where the film was shot, to Kilkerrin, where a publicist named Look Me of Me’s Pub keeps the seats warm for film buffs around the world.
However, keeping the film’s plot in mind, no one will ever repeat the line to their friends that Gleeson’s character, Callum: „I don’t like you anymore.”
The award-winning film is the most Oscar-nominated film ever for an Irish film – a dark comedy set during the Irish Civil War on the fictional island of Inishrein, a beautiful place but lonely for the few who live there. themselves (or their animals) for company.
When it was announced that it was a wrap, the cast left and the print returned to normal.
But after the film became a huge hit, questions arose for JJ Devine.
Some thought it would be an interesting place to enjoy a pint. Some thought you could even make a pilgrimage to the bar.
Pub owner Luke was among those asking questions.
Mr Mee said the entire package was destined for landfill.
„I think 60 skips rent and get rid of the whole set – there was a lot more than the pub.”
Inisherin and back
Ireland is a small place, so it’s no surprise that when Luke does some investigating, his brother-in-law J.J. Given a set for Divine’s woodcuts.
„He was in security for the film. He asked for it and he got it,” Luke explained.
So the film set sat in a yard on the island for a year-and-a-half in pub crawl space – and when Luke offered to buy it from his brother-in-law, he was told he couldn’t do anything with it.
It’s the right place, the right time. He already held a pub license – perfect for someone taking the set down and completely rebuilding it.
„It had to go indoors in a big shed because it wouldn’t withstand the elements and you need a restaurant or a pub. We had a pub license ready so I thought it was a useful idea.
„We were assembling it. It was in big pieces like a jigsaw,” he said.
“We brought it in by truckloads, a two-hour trip each way.
„It’s a top-secret job — we wanted to keep it a secret until we opened it up to the public.”
It was stashed in a shed behind a screen at the back of the pub.
When the big moment arrived, they pulled back the curtain and revealed JJ Devine to the waiting world.
„People come out of the back of the pub and say: 'How did that look from where?’ They asked.
The refurbished and relocated pub has attracted visitors from the US as well as England and Ireland.
Actor Brendan Gleeson was among those who sent them a message wishing them well and promising to pop in for a pint.
But there’s also a vibrancy about the old pub set.
„The guy who designed it — Tim Devine — passed away suddenly. He was only 30 years old,” Luke said.
“He named it after his uncle, JJ Devine, and JJ would come to see it.
„His family also contacted us and said they loved the idea.”
Taylor Swift tops the VIP guest list.
„The joke is that the first free drink is for Taylor Swift,” said Luke, adding that she might call when she’s in Ireland on tour next year.
Sharing celebrity status in the bar is a certain colt – not the film’s original, but local stand-in, Holly – who loves her sudden fame and is pictured with all the punters.
The set is an important part of Irish film history – but how did Luke see it on screen?
„I loved the film – I’m big on Irish history and I loved the scenery,” he said.
„Interesting. You won’t see it five times. It’s Marmite… you either love it or you hate it. But it’s Martin McDonagh.”
And – spoiler alert for the film, look away now if Banshees of Inishrein is still on your to-see list – the grand opening wouldn’t have been complete without Luke’s sister, the chef who came with plates of 'fingers’. Finish with curly onions for fingernails.
Considering how integral the severed digits are to the plot of the film, J.J. You can’t have Divine’s grand (re)opening without a sharp reference.
„So we ate finger food,” Luke said with a knowing smile.
„Totalny pionier w sieci. Specjalista od piwa niezależny. Ewangelista popkultury. Miłośnik muzyki. Nieprzepraszający przedsiębiorca”.