The pandemic has taken our eyes off an interesting new development, the outsize impact Irish artists are making on the world stage for a country of its size
Irish writers, actors, filmmakers, and production companies are having a genuine renaissance moment, winning national awards and gaining name recognition that their predecessors can only wonder at.
Part of it is down to the Internet. It has taken the levers of power away from the tastemakers in London and Hollywood who once controlled them, meaning that simple honest talent gets a hearing now more often than it used to, and audiences are free to make more of their own choices about what to watch, listen to or purchase.
But I don't think we are paying enough attention yet to just how many Irish artists are finally breaking through, in markets that once marginalized Irish voices or actively excluded us.
Next month Sally Rooney, 30, will release her third novel Beautiful World, Where Are You in a release that is nothing short of an international publishing phenomenon. Advance review copies are changing hands for hundreds of dollars already, an indication that – whatever you think of her output, and that's a debate in itself – there is no denying her cultural impact, having been read and recommended by President Barack Obama among others.
After the success of the film adaptation of her second novel Normal People on Hulu (directed by Lenny Abrahamson) and the news that her debut Conversations With Friends is currently filming with the same director, Rooney has achieved a level of fame that she has started to apologize for herself.
On Yahoo, they have started to print helpful maps of the towns that appear in her work, like Castlebar in County Mayo. That's how you know how powerful she's become.
Meanwhile, September will see the welcome return of Jonathan Rhys Meyers, 44, who will star in the Brazilian-Japanese crime-land caper Yakuza Princess. Based on the famous graphic novel Samurai Shiro, the film is an atmospheric and moody return to form for the previously troubled Irish actor, who reminds us he can hold a film in his hand from the opening scene.
Pierce Brosnan, 68, another debonair Irish actor, returns as the king in Cinderella. A modern reimagining of the classic fairytale - expect pop tunes, unexpected detours, and a magic godmother played by Billy Porter.
It's a dramatic change from Brosnan's last role this summer, playing a gynecologist who gives you the chills in the wrenching comedy horror film False Positive, which won a lot of critical plaudits but left this reviewer cold.
Currently, in the middle of the pandemic, actors Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, and Barry Keoghan have all decamped to Galway to film Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin. Based on a script from the 1990s, it's a return to Ireland and the comedy duo (Farrell and Gleeson) that had such a hit with In Bruges.
For another unexpected Irish treat this month, check out Season One and Two of Modern Love on Amazon Prime. In season one, Irish actor Andrew Scott very affectingly plays one half of an interracial gay couple who are hoping to adopt. Scott plays the reluctant dad who bites off more than he can chew with the homeless mother who promises to let him and his partner raise her child.
In season two Minnie Driver, 51, doesn't tell her Irish husband (played by Don Wycherly) that her only connection to her first husband is through his frequently breaking down car. Titled On a Serpentine Road, With the Top Down, and directed by Once's John Carney, you won't need to know much more to be moved to tears by this fantastic short film, which I heartily recommend.
Kit Harrington, 34 (best known as Jon Snow on Game Of Thrones), returns to Ireland and romance in season two of Modern Love in an episode called Strangers on a (Dublin) Train, once again written and directed by Once's John Carney.
The premise couldn't be more timely, two strangers meet on a train from Galway to Dublin in March 2020 and they decide to go old school. That means no numbers are exchanged, only a promise that they will meet up on the train two weeks later. But then the worldwide pandemic shuts down all of Ireland. How will cupid find a way?
Season one and two of Modern Love are now playing on Amazon Prime.