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Ballymun Lullaby Review

Ballymun Lullaby, directed by Frank Berry is a moving documentary based on music teacher Ron Cooney’s instillation of a love and appreciation of music among Ballymun students. As the documentary details, Cooney has been teaching in the North Dublin area for 15 years, and has seen the district change and develop drastically over the years.

Throughout the 80 minute film, the camera follows students Tara, Wayne and Darren as they discuss concerts, what it is like growing up in Ballymun and how important Cooney has been in their lives. Berry directed them as they walked around their home town, showing to those who may not have seen the area in recent years, how modern it has become.

Social commentary on the area throughout the film mentions how people perceive the area and the plight the residents and, in particular, the youths have suffered due to the area’s bad reputation and association with drugs.

 


''I said andante, not adagio!''


Little does he know, that microphone is not plugged in.

It would appear that Cooney’s influence has given the youths a distraction from their bleak surroundings and a productive interest. In the documentary, Cooney states that it is not just about the music, but what drives him on is the clear enjoyment professed by the children as they perform.

It is impossible not to be moved by the fresh honesty of the students, and the escapism they revel in while performing with Cooney. The stark contrast between the students' positivity and the backdrop, and the juxtaposition between the  derelict towers and the more modern structures adds another level of meaning.

This film shows that Ballymun is a thriving community with the potential to move on from its darker days, and yet something is holding it back. It is perhaps by mistake that the documentary portrays Tara, Wayne and Darren as the hope for future that Ballymun requires.

 


Their candid commentary on what is like to grow up in the area shows that they are eager to move on and prove that that they can be something other than the stereotypical things that are associated with the people from the area.

It is both sad and uplifting to see them so eager to dispel what many people believe to be the only option for them. While documentaries are rarely considered to be “must watch” movies, this one is without a doubt a definite must watch, particularly for those who have a narrow-minded view of the North Dublin suburb.

Ballymun Lullaby has been circulating film festivals all around the world and has already generated enormous critical acclaim. It is a heart-warming and positive depiction of an area often ignored. I'll give it 7 derelict towers out of 10.


Claire Kane

 


Ron Cooney coaxing melodies out of the ether.

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