Finn Boylan, an Irish filmmaker who recently spent seven months on the frontlines in Ukraine, says he feels lucky to be alive after returning to Ireland.
Boylan, a native of Bray in Co Wicklow, has been traveling to and from the frontlines in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began in February 2022.
"It's total war," Boylan tells RTE Prime Time, "It's stuff we haven't seen since World War II."
"It's stuff we haven't seen since World War II."
Bray native Finn Boylan has spent close to seven months documenting the war in Ukraine, including his own close brush with death.
WATCH: pic.twitter.com/pc1NhY72KD— RTÉ Prime Time (@RTE_PrimeTime) August 17, 2023
Boylan, the CEO and chairman of Finn House Films, spent time filming in Ukraine for his first full-length documentary "Forsaken Frontier."
He returned to Ireland about two weeks ago and has told RTÉ's Prime Time about his most recent trip to the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk.
He spoke about the bombing of a pizzeria on June 27, which left at least 13 people dead. The pizzeria - named Ria - was popular among journalists and soldiers alike and Boylan was one of the first people to capture the aftermath of the devastating bombing, capturing the moment when a survivor was pulled from the rubble.
"Unfortunately, everything is a target in that town," Boylan told RTÉ's Prime Time. "You don’t know when the next missile is going to hit you."
He added that locals in the city are determined to carry on with their lives, stating that many people visited a nearby shopping center the day after the pizzeria was bombed.
"The next morning everyone is going into the shopping center next door. Going to work. Selling groceries. Getting their coffees. Now soldiers need to find a new place to drink their coffee, so there's another one down the road. It’s just how it is. Life goes on there," he said.
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Boylan also spoke of a separate visit to the frontline when he captured footage of dead Russian soldiers who had been abandoned on the side of a road.
"Unfortunately, the Russians are left on the battlefield. No one's picking them up. The Ukrainians collect their own dead and their own civilians. It's brutal."
Speaking ahead of the program, Boylan spoke about his narrow brush with death in May 2022 when he was part of a group visiting an abandoned school in a recently-liberated Ukrainian village.
He said he had been in the building for just five minutes when it was targeted by a Russian drone strike.
Boylan and the group were able to flee the building when they realized that the Russians were readjusting their fire.
The Bray native said he believes that the fighting in Ukraine will go on for several years, adding that Irish people are "incredibly lucky."
"It's going to be a lot more casualties and a lot more young men dead," Boylan told RTÉ.
He said it takes time to readjust after he returns to Ireland from trips to Ukraine and said he enjoys spending time with his family and dogs when he is back home.
The RTÉ Prime Time episode featuring Boylan's frontline experiences will air on RTÉ One tonight, August 17, at 9:35 pm Irish time.