Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Our Proposed Documentary

This blog is about a proposed documentary which is in it's beginning stages.

The main concept is Celtic mysticism, Irish burial rites and traditions from conception through birth, miscarriage and stillbirth beginning in the 14th century. It also involves Ballykissane and the Crypto Jews.

We had our first focus group which consisted of 12 women.  They were very forthcoming with personal stories of insensitive treatment and injustices suffered during miscarriages and infant deaths. It was shocking to hear that stories of current times bore striking parallels to the research we have conducted on practices that were common seven centuries ago.   We have several focus groups scheduled in the near future and have found it very easy to recruit women who are anxious to participate.

We invite all of you to do the same. 


  1. At our first focus group one lady remembers receiving sympathy cards after her miscarriage. Another remembers insensitive medical personnel, while another noted a period of mourning then a need to refresh ie new look, hair etc. Someone talked about feelings of guilt. We agreed it was more common than spoken about and touched on legal Ramifications. The women expressed a desire to expand the culture beyond Irish and stories were shared.

  2. In front of a shiny, black building, I stood frozen to the sidewalk. New Yorkers and Christmas shoppers rushed around me wearing the navy suits and white sneakers of the fashion-istas of the Reagon ‘80’s. It was so crowded the pickpockets didn’t bother with anything that wasn’t gift-wrapped. The reek of hot metal and boiled meat enclosed the ubiquitous hotdog wagon. Car horns mixed harmonies with piped holiday songs and ringing handbells.
    In the middle of my chest, a star radiated. Ever since I’d given up playing on the park swings for playing on the mood swings, I’d been stage-struck. Soon I’d be shining. Not a big star, but I’d be a minor luminary.
    I kept replaying the past hour in my head, especially the part where the producer said:
    “It’s between you and another girl. The current lead is havin’ a baby. Just like the 1 right before. Can you believe it? Viewers are closer to soaps than their own families. You got any idea how tough it is to get them to buy a new face? You’re not knocked up, are you?”
    My black plastic Casio watch beeped. Time for my next appointment.
    Two hours later, outside a small gray building – my doctors’ office - I stood stock still in the middle of the sidewalk. “Congratulations!” she had said. I shoulda’ known; I’d been retaining water like the Hoover Dam.
    That’s when the star in my chest began to collapse. How could I give up acting? I had 200 8x10 photos and $300 dollars of makeup left.
    I named it Hoover. I dove into motherhood with the same passion I’d sunk into acting. But I guess you’re still a bit conflicted if you name your baby-to-be after a Vacuum Cleaner. Months later, the Supporting Actor stammered his Oscar acceptance speech when blood gushed between my legs. My husband raced me to the hospital. Blood soaked my winter coat.
    The star in my chest grew dark.
    The gurney was narrow. That’s about all I remember. Then they wheeled in this little woman. Someone shouted “Prep her for a C-section.”
    A nurse leaned over me, “She’s a regular. She’s got 5 kids at home. That’s the only English she knows.”
    Then I understood. The other mother was yelling, “Tu-bal li-ga-tion. Tu-bal li-ga-tion.”
    The next one was Spike. I imagined him with a leather band around his neck and metal studs. Maybe the name would make him tough and strong. Not tough enough.
    Then there was Gabrielle. I thought naming her after an angel would bring special protection. But it doesn’t work that way.
    Six years stumbled by and I’m in yet another hospital. Hospitals feel like very noisy places: beeping machines, bright lights, blue gowns, lots and lots of masked faces.
    Finally there’s silence. I was alone in a room all by myself. In my arms there’s a bundle, wrapped tight like a papoose. Tiny, tiny. Her face is dry, like old paper -- or a mummy. Kelsey was a baby who would never breathe.
    A door whooshed open behind me. Two blue masks hovered over me. One nurse said: “it’s time.” Gently, she gathered Kelsey. Doors swung closed at their leaving. I never saw the body again.
    Something pressed against my arms. The 2nd nurse folded my arms around a bundle about as big as a 5-lb pound bag of sugar. I cradled the TWIN, my 2nd baby. Her name is Alana. That’s Irish for Darling. I kiss my daughter’s warm, perfect lips. Now my heart lies outside my body in my living child.
    In the middle of my chest, a supernova explodes. And the galaxy fills with light.

  3. I was so touched by your story.

  4. My name is Toni Maguire and I am an archaeologist and anthropologist who has researched CillinĂ­ in Northern Ireland for a number of years now. I am currently involved with the issues surrounding Milltown Cemetery and the identification of tens of thousands of infants buried in mass inhumation graves in unconsecrated ground without any form of memorial to mark the location. During my research I found the strength of folk religion and mythology associated with this type of burial astounding. I would love to be involved with your project.


  6. the words of the poet Derek Mahon:

    “They are begging us as you see
    in their wordless way
    To do something or speak
    on their behalf
    Or at least not to close
    the door again.”