The Secret of Roan Inish

Director: John Sayles
Screenwriters: John Sayles

Institute History

  • 1995 Sundance Film Festival


The latest film by director John Sayles, and expertly lensed by Academy Award–winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler, The Secret of Roan Inish is a rich and atmospheric Celtic fairy tale, set in the wilds of Ireland’s rugged northwest coast. It tells about the way the lives of ordinary, hardworking people are touched by the mysterious forces of nature.

We meet Fiona Coneelly, a feisty ten-year-old who has been sent by her widowed father to live with her grandparents in a tiny fishing village in post–World War II County Donegal. There she and her older cousin, Eamon, learn about the Coneelly family’s folkloric past, particularly the fable of a selkie, a sea creature that is half human, half seal. After Fiona catches a glimpse of her infant brother Jamie, long presumed dead, running along the seashore, she delves further into the past and uncovers proof that forces are at work to return the Coneelly family to their rightful home on the nearby abandoned island of Roan Inish. The Secret of Roan Inish is a film with universal appeal. Shot through with mystery, wit, charm, and an enduring faith in magic and myth, this film is sure to please all audiences.
Based on the book The Secret of Ron Mor Skerry by Rosalie Fry.

— Christian Gaines

Screening Details

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