Poitín (film)

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Directed by Bob Quinn
Produced by Bob Quinn
Written by Colm Bairéad
Starring Cyril Cusack
Donal McCann
Niall Toibin
Mick Lally
Cinematography Seamus Deasy
Edited by Bob Quinn
Distributed by Cine Gael
Release date
  • 1978 (1978)
Running time
65 minutes[1]
Country Ireland
Language Irish

Poitín (1978) was the first feature film to be made entirely in Irish. It was also the first recipient of a film script grant from the Arts Council of Ireland.[2]


The film was produced by Cinegael, written and directed by Bob Quinn,[3] and starred Cyril Cusack as a moonshiner in rural Connemara, living in an isolated cottage with his adult daughter. Two local degenerates, played by Donal McCann and Niall Tóibín, terrorize the old moonshiner for his contraband liquor (poitín), threatening to kill him and rape his daughter, until the moonshiner outwits them and tricks them to their deaths.[4]


The film first aired to the Irish public on RTÉ Television on Saint Patrick's Day in 1979 and caused a "public outrage".[2][1] Taken by some as an insult to the idealized Western Irish identity, particularly pointing to the "spud fight" scene in the film, criticism echoed the response to John Millington Synge's stageplay The Playboy of the Western World (the "Playboy Riots") seventy years earlier and the reaction to Brian O'Nolan's Irish language novel An Béal Bocht forty years prior, both of which also played on Irish stereotypes, to which some Irish nationalists were sensitive.[2]

UK showing[edit]

The film was transmitted on Friday 17 October 1980 by UK-based Southern Television - in a slot that usually included films not made in the English language.[5] The Times Digital Archive does not give any further British TV transmissions of this film.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Poitín". Conamara.org (Cinegael). Retrieved 26 January 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c Jerry White. "The Films of Bob Quinn: Towards an Irish third Cinema". Retrieved 26 January 2017. 
  3. ^ Poitín on IMDb
  4. ^ White, Jerry (2003). "Arguing with Ethnography: The Films of Bob Quinn and Pierre Perrault". Cinema Journal. 42 (2): 101–124. JSTOR 1566518. 
  5. ^ The Times, 17 October 1980, page 23