Bilingual short film Claonadh to explore the hidden stories of queer desire in Ireland's past

Set to be filmed in February next year, the short will explore the hidden queer stories of forbidden love and attraction of Ireland's past.

This article is about the short film Claonadh. In the picture, two people kissing in the dark.
Image: Ciara Ní É

Writer Ciara Ní É talked to GCN about her bilingual short film Claonadh.

“Claonadh”, the title of the film, is hard to translate. I was drawn to the word because it has so many meanings – an inclination, a tendency, a deviation, or even a perversion.

As queer people, we’re used to having our sexualities and gender identities judged as ‘perverted’, and I’m interested in the overlapping causes behind those sorts of judgement. Aside from homophobia and transphobia, there are universal factors like age gaps, class differences, race, and all manner of other reasons why some human relationships were judged as morally wrong in specific periods of human history.

The idea for this film came to me when I was living in Baile an Sceilg, in South Kerry, during the lockdown. Surrounded on all sides by the dramatic landscape of rugged mountains and wild ocean, I wondered about the stories the land has seen that have never been told, passions lost to the mists of time.

Ireland’s colonial past is rife with layers of tension forbidding and restricting certain behaviours, so naturally, I imagined stories of forbidden love and attraction. Not just Romeo and Juliet, but Juliet and Juliet, too. I don’t want to give away too much about the plot of Claonadh, but this story of queer desire is set in an Irish Big House in the 1920s.


After the script won the Dingle Comórtas Físín prize everything started coming together really quickly. I’m getting the chance to work with incredible artists, including DP Eleanor Bowman, who was nominated for Best Cinematography for How to Tell a Secret.

Apart from the standard film-making costs, this being a period piece means the costumes and location hire are an extra challenge. Bheinn fíorbhuíoch as cúnamh ar bith. You can help us out at this link or, if you can’t donate yourself, sharing the fundraiser with your friends or followers would be a huge help.

Our minimum fundraising goal to cover costs is €6,000. If I’m lucky enough to get any support above that, every penny will go toward making the best film we can. All my time writing the script, organising the project, and directing the film will be unpaid. My reward will be bringing to life the queer Irish film of my dreams and I’m forever grateful to everyone who is making it possible.

Since co-founding the queer Irish-language arts collective AerachAiteachGaelach in 2020, I’ve been focusing more of my work on recognising queer people in Ireland’s history. Gaeilge is the only native language to this country, and queer people are a fact of life, so much of our queer history happened through the Irish language. This short bilingual film is one glimpse into our queer past and I can’t wait to share it with you all!

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