Three Quinnipiac University faculty win a New England Emmy Award

Liam O'Brien (left) and Rebecca Abbott (right) (Photo Courtesy: Quinnipiac University)

HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH)– Rebecca Abbott, Liam O’Brien, and Chirstine Kinealy accepted a New England Emmy Award for their film “Ireland’s Great Hunger and the Irish Diaspora.”

The documentary focuses largely on the social, political, and historical circumstances of the Great Hunger, including detail from the descendants of survivors who fled Ireland through Canada or emigrated to Australia.

Rebecca Abbott, a Hamden resident and professor in the Department of Film, Television and Media Arts at Quinnipiac University, filmed, edited, and co-produced the documentary. She shared that “since the process of making this documentary took several years, it’s really gratifying and rewarding to know that our efforts are valued in this way.”

“We’re also especially pleased and encouraged because this award may help us share more widely the complex history of Ireland’s Great Famine. Although Ireland’s Great Hunger took place in the past, it can teach us many important, universal lessons, and give us all greater understanding to help with similar crises happening around the world today,” Abbott added.

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O’Brien, co-producer and professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Media Arts at Quinnipiac, shared his own thoughts.

“This was a major undertaking, especially in regard to the substantive volume of historical, archival and graphics research required, the need to hear the voices and thoughts of our brilliant group of international researchers led by Christine Kinealy, and the very large number of diverse shooting locations in Ireland, Canada, the United States and Australia undertaken by Rebecca Abbott. It was a distinct honor to serve as co-producer of this fine film and the stories it tells.”

The film is narrated by Gabriel Byrne, an Irish actor, and features several Irish history scholars including Declan Kiberd, University College Dublin and Notre Dame University; Ciaran O’Murchadha, author of The Great Famine: Ireland’s Agony 1845-1852; Mike Murphy, University College Cork; and Richard Reid, historian, National Museum of Australia.

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Kinealy, a Hamden resident and founding director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute, said that “the documentary is a powerful testament to the determination of our Irish ancestors to survive, despite the odds. Rebecca’s sensitive filming of locations in Ireland, and others in Australia and Canada, interspersed with interviews with descendants of the survivors and commentary from leading historians, provides an accessible, yet poignant insight into the long legacy of the Great Hunger. I was honored to play a part in its creation.”

The New England Emmy award-winning documentary is 50 minutes long.

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