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Film on Mayo’s gas struggle strikes a chord with US communities

Emigrant Online

Risteard O’Domhnaill’s stunning documentary, The Pipe, which covers the struggle of the people of Rossport, Co. Mayo as they battle the oil giant Shell’s encroachment onto their lands, is currently taking in a tour of US cities.

For the film O’Domhnaill, a news cameraman, followed the travails of the people of the Erris Peninsula over four years as Shell looked to exploit the Corrib Gas Field - located 80 km off the coast of Co. Mayo - by pumping unrefined gas 5.6 miles inland through an inhabited area to a refinery.

Lauded for its deeply human take on a hugely divisive issue, The Pipe has won acclaim at film festivals worldwide, recently claiming Best Documentary at the Arizona International Film Festival.

“When we launched The Pipe, we had no idea the film would get such a response in the US and beyond,” O’Domhnaill told The Irish Emigrant last week, saying he feels that with more American people now seeing the scramble for energy affect their lives directly, the film has struck a chord.

“I think the film hits people hard because so many communities in the US and Canada have recently been affected by the desperate race for energy sources, be it the Gulf oil spill, gas fracking, the Keystone XL Tar Sands pipeline, the Spectra pipeline in New Jersey, or San Bruno, CA, which was devastated by a gas explosion one year ago. Community groups in the US are screening The Pipe to help put a spotlight on the dangers to their own environment, health and way of life.”

O’Domhnaill feels that the people of Rossport, who have hugely disrupted though not entirely succeeded against Shell’s plans, are now seen across the globe as an example of what can be achieved.

“Rossport is such an inspiration to ordinary people who feel they are being steamrollered by private interests, with no recourse to environmental or civil justice,” he concluded. “The Pipe shows that despite the overwhelming odds faced by communities all over the world, small people can still change things for the better.”

Upcoming screenings of The Pipe will include visits to Traverse City, Michigan; Rochester, New York; the University of Nebraska, Lincoln; Kansas, for the Kansas International Film Festival; the University of Alabama; Jersey City, New Jersey; Fairfield University, Connecticut; and Los Angeles, for the Irish Film Festival.

For screening dates, times and more see

Posted Date: 
13 September 2011