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MIC proud to support Corpus Christi Primary School in European award-winning film on the Siege of Limerick and Flight of the Wild Geese

Students from Corpus Christi dressed in 17th century style clothing

A huge congratulations to Corpus Christi Primary School in Moyross, Co. Limerick who recently won a European award for a feature-length movie they produced on the Siege of Limerick and the subsequent Flight of the Wild Geese. In line with MIC's long-standing community engagement work, a number of MIC academics were delighted to support the school in the production of the movie, namely Dr Loïc Guyon, Nicky Fennell and Dr Paul O'Brien.

Corpus Christi were winners of the Histolab Award for Innovate School Projects in History Education from a very competitive field with 500 submissions from 46 countries. A delegation of teachers and children from the school travelled to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg to accept the award in April.

The hour-long movie, entitled ‘The Flight of the Wild Geese’, tells the story of Limerick City in the 1690s. It follows Patrick Sarsfield, who fought for the Jacobite army against King William of Orange, the signing of the Treaty of Limerick and its breach by King William, and the subsequent fleeing of Sarsfield’s men to France. The movie was written and directed by teacher Fionnuala Bromell and filmed and produced by teacher Diarmuid Hickey. Together with teachers Kate Walshe and Louise Clancy, the four teachers and forty-five children embarked on a year long journey into the history of Limerick.

Explaining their interest in the subject, teacher Fionnuala Bromell said: “As we are four time All-Ireland hurling Champions, our students were asking why we are known as the ‘Treaty City’ and what the Treaty Stone stood for. After going on a walking tour of Limerick our curiosity about the Walls of Limerick and King John’s Castle grew.”

Fionnuala approached Dr Loïc Guyon, Head of the Department of French Studies at MIC and Honorary Consul of France to the MidWest, with the idea of filming a feature-length movie on the history of the sieges of Limerick starring pupils from Corpus Christi. Dr Guyon is founder of the Limerick Wild Geese Festival, an annual festival commemorating the Flight of the Wild Geese and celebrating the longstanding friendship between Ireland and France and is also leading a multi-year project to identify and repatriate Patrick Sarsfield’s remains. Dr Guyon and the festival committee agreed to support the film and screen it at the 2023 festival.

The students then undertook a rigorous research period for the production of the film, including many visits to key locations in the city associated with the story of the Wild Geese and visits to local libraries to get an understanding of the clothes, medicines, food and weapons of the time in order to prepare realistic props and costumes. An emotive soundtrack, influenced by Limerick musicians, was performed and recorded in local studios and performed by the children’s choir, community choirs, past pupils, parents and local musicians John Daly and James Hanley. 

Dr Loïc Guyon pictured with students from Corpus Christi Primary School

Nicky Fennell, Lecturer in MIC’s Department of Media & Communications, lent cameras, audio equipment and dolly tracks, which allowed portable filming and gave some training on how to use the equipment. All filming was done by the teachers and children on location in King John’s Castle, John’s Gate, St Mary’s Cathedral and Sarsfield’s Rock, Cratloe Woods and Bunratty Castle. The students then went to MIC’s Audio-Visual studio where they spent a day recording some scenes in front of a green-screen. MIC’s Dr Paul O’Brien, who holds a PhD in History from the College and is a Limerick Wild Geese Festival committee member, provided stunning drone footage of the city that was included in the movie.

The movie was shown at the annual Wild Geese Bastille Day Festival in St Mary’s Cathedral in July 2023 before a crowded audience of 200 people, including Ambassador of France to Ireland, Vincent Guérend and Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Gerald Mitchell.

The work on the film has afforded the school the opportunity to present their methods of teaching history at a cross border conference where Corpus Christi linked with two schools in Derry through the University of Ulster and worked remotely to share the history of their two walled cities. The movie also saw Corpus Christi awarded the Best School award at the Fresh Film Awards 2024. 

Corpus Christi has won many awards over the past decade in the Fresh Film Festival for previous movies, all written, produced, and directed by children and teachers at the school. Fionnuala says the school’s steps into the world of filmmaking has allowed students to approach history from a fresh angle: “Limerick is a city steeped in history. Our school has a strong creative programme focusing on drama, music, film and dance that fosters and values multiple intelligences. Using this creative process to make a film starring children in lead roles immersed the children in their history, allowing them to learn through the lived experiences.”

Click here to watch the full movie.