Movie review: Wolfwalkers

Cartoon Saloon

WolfwalkersOn AppleTV+, which I have free for a year, the platform announced that Wolfwalkers was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Film on March 15, mere minutes after the announcement was made. Since I hadn’t seen any of the other choices yet, I watched it, and I was entranced.

A young English girl named Robyn Goodfellowe (voiced by Honor Kneafsey), an apprentice hunter, and her widowed father Bill (Sean Bean) move to Ireland. Their job is to “help wipe out the last wolf pack. But everything changes when she befriends a free-spirited girl from a mysterious tribe rumored to transform into wolves by night.”

First off, it is a lovely, hand-drawn animation. The reviews, which were 99% positive, use terms such as “lush,” “gorgeous,” “beautiful,” a “visual splendor,” and its “use of color and detail make it continually dazzling to watch.” But it isn’t just eye candy.

“It’s endlessly beguiling, like the magic of the forest.” Wolfwalkers addresses the role of women and girls, deforestation and its effect, and I suppose the British version of manifest destiny.

Irish studio

The movie was created by the well-regarded Cartoon Saloon. They made Secret of the Kells (2009), which I did not see; it was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Film.

There is a long-running comic book series called Elfquest by Wendy and Richard Pini; I’ve met them more than once. I’ve only really read the first 20 issues back in the 1980s. This story faintly reminds me of that story’s ethos. Or maybe it’s just the wolves, though I don’t recall them shapeshifting as Mebh Óg MacTíre (Ava Whittaker) does.

“Here is an animated film that finds new beauty in ancient traditions; a film that fights back against the temptation to surrender what little magic this world still has left.” Yup, that’s right.

The FABulous Irish JEOPARDY!

Oxalis triangularis

ireland.map_2007-worldfactbookI have a confession. I’ve never drunk green beer. As someone who is 25% Irish, this may be a sin against Saint Patrick. Of course, the reason is that I don’t drink ANY beer.

You may know that I’m somewhat of a fan of the game show JEOPARDY! So I looked back at the questions referencing the Emerald Isle on the show in 2020. The answers to the first set are below.

BESTSELLING NONFICTION $800: “Say Nothing” by Patrick Radden Keefe examines the historic “Troubles” in this smallest of the 4 U.K. political divisions
TRIANGULAR $400: Oxalis triangularis is the purple clover, or purple this, a word associated with Ireland.
I’M JUST THE “GO” BETWEEN $2000: This patriotic phrase means “Ireland forever”.
EUROPEAN HISTORY IS A DOWNER $200: A lack of genetic diversity in this crop in 1840s Ireland was a major cause of disaster for the population.

HODGEPODGE $200: An early depiction of a demon holding this customary farm implement is on a thousand-year-old high cross in County Louth, Ireland.
ISLAND PEOPLE $800: She was in 13 consecutive S.I. swimsuit issues and despite her name, does not speak with a brogue.
THE IRISHMAN $1600: In 2018 Gerry Adams resigned as head of this 2-word Northern Ireland unification party after 35 years
GOATS (GREATEST OF ALL TIME) $2000: In a 2010 poll this Nobel Peace Prize winner and politician ranked as Ireland’s greatest person.
NATIONS’ SECOND-LARGEST CITIES $400: Put a stopper in this second city of Ireland, found on an island in the River Lee.

A post-Beatles interlude

Both John and Paul wrote and performed songs about the Irish. Each song is very… earnest.

The Luck of the Irish – John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and Elephant’s Memory – from the 1972 album Some Time in New York City
Give Ireland Back to the Irish – Paul McCartney and Wings, single, went to #21 on the Billboard charts in 1972. And this the instrumental B-side.

The answer to these is Ireland

ANTIQUES $2000: Treasured Belleek ware pottery was manufactured starting in the 1850s at Fermanagh on this island.
CATHOLIC NATIONS $800: St. Columba’s House and St. Kevin’s Kitchen are 2 historic churches in this European nation that’s about 80% Catholic.
NATIONS IN THE NATIVE TONGUE $200: Éire.
HYDE $600: Founder of the Gaelic League, Douglas Hyde was also the first president of this republic.
MARY: ME $1200: And here’s to you, Mary Robinson, president of this European country from 1990 to 1997.

Answers from the top quiz: Northern Ireland; Shamrock; Erin go Bragh; Potatoes; Pitchfork; Kathy Ireland; Sinn Fein; John Hume; Cork (County Cork is where my people came from.)

Stats! 

Redefining the DNA in me

It’s all Greek to me.

AncestryDNAStory-Roger-210920Once again, Ancestry.com has updated its “most precise DNA update yet. In this latest update, you’ll notice that at least one of your previous regions has been split into two smaller, more precise regions. We’ve increased our precision this way in Europe, Africa, and Asia by updating our algorithm and expanding the size and diversity of the populations in our reference panel.”

What this means for me, most notably, is that Ireland and Scotland have split. I’m more Scottish than I imagine. It probably explains my affection for the Blackwatch color combination. If I were select a tartan, that’s what it would be.

Nigeria 25%
Ireland 25% – Munster, Ireland > West Cork> South West Cork> southwest Munster
Cameroon, Congo & Western Bantu Peoples 15%
Benin & Togo 7%
England & Northwestern Europe 7%
Senegal 7%
Scotland 6%
Mali 3%
Greece & Albania 1%
Norway 1%
Indigenous Americas—North 1%
Ivory Coast & Ghana 1%
Wales 1%
Sweden and Southern Bantu Peoples each less than 1%

The mild surprise is the first appearance of Greece and Albania on the list.

You may have noticed when you did your Census – I hope you completed yours! – that the race question additionally asked what particular geography you identify with. This was particularly interesting to my daughter, who selected the various strands of her background when we answered it way back in March.

Roots

Another aspect of the Ancestry report is that my people of African roots likely ended up in eastern North Carolina. It is actually a region east of an area from Virginia Beach, VA to Raleigh, NC to Myrtle Beach, SC. “You, and all the members of this community, are linked through shared ancestors. You probably have family who lived in this area for years—and maybe still do.”

This turns out to be quite true. Wilson, NC is about 50 miles east of Raleigh. It was the home of Raymond Cone, my biological grandfather, my father’s biological father. And the home of Willis Cone, Raymond’s father. At least four of the 10 closest relatives I have on Ancestry who were previously unknown to me are descended from Raymond Cone.

Agitate!

On September 29, I attended a ZOOM thing called Agitate!: Frederick Douglass and Ireland. Douglass wrote how he was “captivated” after attending a speech made by Daniel O’Connell, ‘The Liberator,’ in Dublin in 1845.

The event was sponsored by, among others, The African American Irish Diaspora Network, The Embassy of Ireland USA, Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University, Irish Network-DC, and University College Cork.

Learn about the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship. “Outstanding students of color” may “participate in a customized summer study abroad program focused on leadership and intercultural communication skills.”

Am I one of the Irish of Munster, Ireland?

Interesting that none of the other parts of my genealogy specify below the region, but my Scot-Irish roots identifies Munster.

Munster
by Caomhan27 – Based on 1651 Arms of Munster, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
The last time I got results from my Ancestry DNA test, I showed to be 19% from Ireland or Scotland 19%. But then there was a specific reference to a place called Munster, Ireland.

The Wikipedia notes that Munster is one of the provinces of Ireland, in the south west of the island. “In early Ireland, the Kingdom of Munster was one of the kingdoms of Gaelic Ireland ruled by a ‘king of over-kings’ (Irish: rí ruirech).

“Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into counties for administrative and judicial purposes.”

The test also suggests a possible connection to Cork, its largest city. Cork County is the southernmost entity of the state.

There is a Munster Irish group. “To meet the project goals, we limit membership to males with one of the surnames (or variants thereof) listed below and EITHER a most distant paternal ancestor identified as having been born [there], OR a Y-DNA haplotype similar to those described under ‘The Ancestral Haplotypes of Munster’ on the Results page.”

Well, I don’t know about the latter criteria. I should work on one of those Y-DNA tests eventually. But Green IS on of the surnames listed as having “been identified as in use in Munster in pre-Norman times in various ancient works.’

Interesting that none of the other parts of my genealogy specify below the region:
Cameroon, Congo, & Southern Bantu Peoples 26%
Benin/Togo 22%
England, Wales & Northwestern Europe 20%

From this I infer that there are other people in the database from Munster with similar traits as I have. I find the slow peeling of the layers of my genealogy fascinating.

So Roger O Green can legitimately celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. I’m not one for green beer, so I’ll have to find other ways to celebrate.