While Irish eyes follow the official visit of Taoiseach Enda Kenny to China, a little gem of an Irish film has surfaced on YouTube, tracing a more humble trip in the opposite direction.
Made 10 years ago, but gaining viral traction now, Yu Ming Ainm Dom (or My Name Is Yu Ming) sketches, in a scant 13 minutes, the story of a bored Chinese clerk, who, with a leap of faith and a spin of the globe, sets his sights on Ireland, where his research tells him the language is Gaelic.
You can see where this is going...
Daniel O'Hara wrote and directed the short, which was produced by Grainne O'Carroll. The cast includes Daniel Wu as Yu Ming, Frank Kelly as the old man, Paddy C. Courtney as a barman and Richard Morton as Lenny.
Awards for Yu Ming Ainm Dom:
Best Irish Short & Best First Short - Galway Film Fleadh 2003
Best Comedy - Aspen Shortsfest 2004
Best Young Director - Broadcast/BBC Young Talent Awards 2004
Best Irish Language Production - IFTAs 2004
The story resonated with me, as this week I attended the "Celebration of Irish Heritage and Culture" held by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and New York City Council. The main honoree of the night was the Thomas J. Manton, Irish Man of the Year, Ed Shevlin, a New York Department of Sanitation front-line worker (or, as he calls himself, "a bin man"), who, late in life decided to learn Irish and last year earned a Fulbright award to resume his Irish language studies in Ireland.