By Cronan Scanlon
A BEAUTIFULLY shot advertisement featuring Fanad Lighthouse has been receiving rave reviews worldwide since it hit the TV screens recently.
In the ad, a trusty old lighthouse keeper, Dublin-based actor Patrick Kelly, provides the metaphor for the Bank of Ireland, who have been ‘guiding’ customers for the past 200 years.
One website describes the ad by saying: “It’s a lovely piece of filming but it’s pretty bold of the bank to admit the need to ‘renew our commitment’ to said customers, effectively admitting that it’s led them onto the rocks over the past decade.”
The production company was Dublin-based Maxfilms Limited, and the director was the internationally renowned Mr Stuart Douglas.
Speaking to the Donegal News this week, Ms Max Brady of Maxfilms, said the ad was shot in somewhat ‘difficult conditions’ over three days and nights at the landmark Fanad Head Lighthouse, on the last weekend of August 2012.
Ms Brady explained that the advertising agency, Irish International, and Mr Douglas wanted a lighthouse that was in a remote area, where there was height to the surrounding rocks, but that the lighthouse was connected to the land.
“During our research period, we considered every single Irish lighthouse. Many were rejected due to their shape, their location and the fact that they were too modern. We were specifically looking for a lighthouse that was ‘traditional’ and hadn’t been too modernised,” said.
“We worked closely with The Commissioner for Irish Lights, who were more than helpful to us in our search.
Eventually, we narrowed the search down to Fanad Head, Old Kinsale Head and Bailey lighthouses.
“We then went to Fanad Head to meet with the lighthouse caretaker, local man Mr Eamon McAteer.
“Eamon became an essential part of our crew, and couldn’t have been of more assistance.
“Once we had visited Fanad Head, our search was over, we knew we had found the perfect location.
“The beautiful coastline of Donegal only confirmed our decision.
We were looking for an area that suggested ruggedness, a certain amount of danger, but had the security and safety of being connected to the land,” she added.
Ms Brady was particularly complimentary of Mr McAteer, saying he takes great pride in his work as caretaker there, and the lighthouse and the lamp-house are in pristine condition.
Fanad Lighthouse was first lit on March 17, 1817.
The original leaded and diamond shaped windows in the lamp house are rare now, and only found on lighthouses which may be subject to strong coastal storms.
The spiral staircase in Fanad Head, Ms Brady said, is one of the most beautiful in Ireland, and the view from the lamp house balcony is spectacular.
“We really had no other option for a lighthouse that met all of our requirements.”
However, she explained that the location of the lighthouse was a bit of a ‘logistical nightmare’ for the crew.
“We had to travel crew from Dublin and London, including all of our trucks, catering requirements, rain machines, lights, and of course to build a revolving light for the lamp house, as well as ensuring that we didn’t interfere with the day to day working of the lighthouse for craft at sea.
“On our days of shooting there was quite a swell, which made filming on the rocks more difficult than usual, but gave us the shots we wanted, and then of course, when filming out at sea, it was more tricky for those on the boats.”
The filming also proved a much needed boost to the local economy.
Local people were employed to provide security overnight at the lighthouse, a local makeup artist, local paramedics, as well as the ‘captain’ of the fishing boat, Mr Patrick Friel.
In total, the crew was made up of almost 50 people and those who had travelled all stayed in Downings in the Beach Hotel and Downings Bay hotels.
“As it was the All Ireland semi-final weekend, there were a few disappointed heads when the entire town ran out of Guinness, and several other draught beers if memory serves me right,” Ms Brady concluded.