Donegal director’s IFTA hopes

A TV director from Donegal is awaiting Saturday night’s IFTA awards with bated breath, as one of his documentaries, The Writing in the Sky, has been nominated in four categories.

A TV director from Donegal is awaiting Saturday night’s IFTA awards with bated breath, as one of his documentaries, The Writing in the Sky, has been nominated in four categories.

Garry Keane, (pictured right) a native of The Rock, Ballyshannon, has been nominated in the Best Director Television Category. Micheal O’Donovan is short-listed for Best Director of Photography Television, while Mick Mahon is short-listed for Best Editing Television. Killian Fitzgerald and Aza Hand are nominated in the Best Sound Television category. The documentary about the writer Dermot Healy was produced by Real Film, a production company owned and run by Garry and his wife Alison.

Garry is a graduate of DLIAD and has worked in television for the last twenty years, first as a lighting cameraman and for the last twelve years as a director of documentaries. He was nominated by IFTA for Best Director in 2009 for the documentary Brief Encounters of a Sporting Mind.

Garry was born and raised in Ballyshannon and educated at the De La Salle secondary school. He left Donegal in 1984 and went to UC Galway, then spent a year in New York. This was followed by five years in London working and studying photography.

He returned to Ireland in 1990 to do his film degree at DLIADT in Dun Laghaoire. In 1997, he moved back to Donegal and settled in Barnesmore where he and Alison now make their home along with their three children - Molly (13) Eddie (10) and Tom (6).

A son of Peggy and the late Jim Keane, a noted writer in his own right, his sister Tricia is an All Ireland amateur drama award winning actress. Garry and his wife, Alison, are currently putting the finishing touches to their latest documentary series, called Gaeil Nua Eabhrac (The Irish New Yorkers), which will be shown on TG4 on March 14 and 15.

Making a documentary about Dermot Healy was something that Garry had wanted to do for a long time. “My father, Jim, introduced me to him in 1990. He knew Dermot from his writing school. I had made a 10 minute short on Dermot for the RTE book series ‘Imprint’ as part of their ‘Directors’ features back in 1999 and had always wanted to go back and do a more substantial film on the man. So I approached him in early 2008 and we discussed the idea. It took a year to secure the funding through RTE and the BAI and another year to film it.”

Gerry’s excited and proud about the nominations but is definitely keeping his feet firmly on the ground.

“The four nominations are great. I’m especially pleased that the film has been nominated in all the craft categories. I work with a great team of people, including editor Mick Mahon and cinematorgrapher Micheal O’Donovan who I studied with in Dun Laghoaire. It’s fantastic to see the actual practitioners getting due recognition for their endeavors and skill levels. I’m not exaggerating when I say they are as good as anyone in the world at what they do.

“We’ll all be there on Saturday night. IFTA had to organise two tables beside each other because there’s 18 of us going! If we win we win, if we don’t we don’t. We’ll keep doing what we do regardless!”

Tune in to see if Garry wins on Saturday night from 9.30pm on RTÉ1.

You can watch The Writing in the Sky online at

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