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QUINN, Bob (director, scriptwriter, producer) (1935)

Born in Dublin, Bob Quinn started his career working with RTÉ shortly after the national television station opened. In 1969, along with Lelia Doolan and Jack Dowling, Quinn resigned from RTÉ in protest at its increasing commercialism; this was chronicled in a book written by the three protestors, Sit Down and be Counted. Quinn then moved to Carraroe, Co. Galway to live in an Irish-language speaking area. There he set up his own production company, Cinegael, and it was under its auspices that he directed CAOINEADH AIRT UI LAOIRE (1975), inspired by the Irish lament, The Lament for Art O’Leary; the film was made in both Irish and English and was both politically polemical and formally experimental. He continued to produce films through Cinegael and followed his debut with a documentary on the art of the stonecutter, CLOCH (1975). This was followed by another Irish-language film, POITÍN (1977), a production that has been widely discussed for its de-romanticisation of the landscape of the West of Ireland. The short SELF PORTRAIT WITH RED CAR (1977) followed and in 1983 the television series ATLANTEAN which argued that the Irish were descended not from the Celts but from North African seafarers. He released two short documentaries on Irish music, collected together under the title, TRADITIONAL MUSIC OF THE WEST in 1985. Throughout his early career, Quinn collaborated with other members of the emerging group of independent directors, notably Joe Comerford whose DOWN THE CORNER (1977) he edited and who worked as second unit photographer on Quinn’s BUDAWANNY (1987). The latter was filmed in the style of the silent film, with intertitles, and told the story of a priest’s love affair with a young woman who turns up on his island. In 1993, Quinn’s THE BISHOP’S STORY revisited the earlier film, now blown up to 35mm, in the light of a number of clerical scandals. His tribute to his friend and the actor in many of his films, Donal McCann, IT MUST BE DONE RIGHT, was released in 1999. In 2008 he directed Vox Humana (Notes for a Small Opera), which was shot on Digital Video and stars the Galway Baroque Singers. The film won the audience award at the Galway Film Fleadh. Quinn continues to campaign for better quality Irish television and in particular has criticized advertising aimed at children, reigning in 1999 from the RTÉ Authority in protest at the station’s commercialism and its focus on Dublin-based issues. He has published several books and has held exhibitions of his photography.


Books by
  1. Sit Down and Be Counted : The Cultural Evolution of a Television Station
  2. Maverick: A Dissident View of Broadcasting Today
Articles by
  1. 'What happened to the Bishop?'
  2. 'Degeneration gap'
  3. 'Standard deviations: distribution for independent films'
  4. 'Recycled rants'
Contact: | Last updated: Nov 27 2006.