Michael Tanner recalls how a far-removed Irish village on Ireland’s west coast prospered when Hollywood director David Lean chose Dingle to be the backdrop to the famous story of love, lust and betrayal that became Ryan’s Daughter.
Ryan’s Daughter first brought me to Dingle.
More importantly, the Oscar-winning film of 1970 brought prosperity to the people of Dingle and its eponymous peninsula. By the time location shooting ended on 24th February, 1970, a year to the day after commencing, £1m to £3m had been spent in this isolated region of Ireland. New cars, kitchens and bathrooms sprouted like mushrooms among a populace suddenly and rapidly introduced to 20th century consumerism.
David Lean was to thank for this unexpected largesse. He may have started his directing career with smaller intimate films such as Brief Encounter and Dickens adaptations like Great Expectations but when his cameras began rolling on Ryan’s Daughter in 1969 his name was synonymous with sprawling multi Oscar-winning epics such as Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago.
Making films on this gigantic scale in the days before CGI meant spending money like there was no tomorrow. Lean demanded locations that illuminated his stories; genuine deserts and true wastelands.
Ryan’s Daughter had begun life as the ‘love child’ of screenwriter Robert Bolt for his actress wife Sarah Miles, but Lean was determined to stage this tale of love and betrayal against a backdrop of wild grandeur. Cue Corca Dhuibhne.
Lean’s two right-hand men, Peter Dukelow (construction) and Eddie Fowlie (location), ran their rule over Sicily, Sardinia and the Shetland Isles before settling on the Dingle peninsula.