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Plot & Details

The fifth and final segment of The Irish Empire confronts modern Ireland and how it differs from the country preserved in emigrant dreams and passed down through generations until "Ireland" became a mythical place to the descendants of those who left their native land. Director Alan Gilsenan provides images of a busy Irish highway, an urbanized Ireland of microchip factories and wine bars, and then examines the expectations and ideas held about Ireland by emigrants living in countries such as Australia and the United States. Highlights include footage of the 1998 Irish-American Rose of Tralee festival in New Orleans, an interview with Shane McGowan (founder of the band the Pogues) concerning the bitterness of Irish natives who have to move to England to find work, and an examination of how the mythology of Ireland as "a pastoral 'never never' land" and "a Celtic Disneyland" has affected even those who live in Ireland. Ultimately the program postulates that in today's world of mass communications and jet travel, Irish identity has of necessity become an "expandable ethnic identity" related more to a culture than a particular piece of land. Narrated by Irish actress Fiona Shaw (My Left Foot, The Last September).

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