Saoirse Ronan talks about emigration and the Irish psyche
Saoirse Ronan has spoken about how it can be a struggle for Irish people to assert themselves when they move abroad as they try to adapt to their new surroundings.
She was talking at the launch of her latest film Brooklyn, in which she plays an Irish woman who moves to New York. Director John Crowley also said that ‘emigration is a potent part of the Irish psyche’.
The film explores the difficulty of fitting in to a new country and dealing with the homesickness and isolation that many people will recognise when they move far away from home.
Ronan was speaking to the Guardian about the role: “We’re a very grounded kind of nation and actually I find that when we’ve gone over to the States or get involved in the business side of film it does take you a while to learn how to say no and stand up for what you need.”
Brooklyn is based on the book of the same name by Irish author Colm Tóibín. He said that the lead character’s journey can be compared to emigrants today, and that it should make people more aware of the struggles they could be going through.
The film also highlights the different mentalities and attitudes between people of Ireland and America. Tóibín said: “Even a girl wearing sunglasses walking through the town, people would think ‘Who do you think you are?’ There’s that sort of feeling in Ireland, no one in America ever says ‘Who do you think you are?’
“So if you’re a young woman in the 50s you are always conscious of the fact that you’re better to be in the shadows, apologising for yourself and that to actually assert yourself is not something you do.”
Director John Crowley added: “Emigration is a very potent part of the Irish psyche. The nature of emigration from Ireland changed radically from the Famine migration to the 50s right up to the 80s right up until now. So each of them have very different personalities.”
Brooklyn is expected to be one of the major films of the year, and many are already tipping Ronan for an Academy Award for her performance.