Helen Hooker and Ernie O'Malley's Artistic Journey in Ireland

A Film About Love, Art, Revolution & Ireland

In the film, you will see Helen Hooker’s powerful photos depict a newly free Ireland, for the first time, from a woman’s point of view. You will hear the words of Ernie O’Malley, the most literary Irish voice to emerge from the fight for Irish freedom. You will engage with some of Ireland’s leading artistic and cultural figures such as John Behan, Paddy Moloney, Dr. Ed Walsh, Trish Lambe, Tanya Kiang, Yvonne Davis and Orla Fitzpatrick as well as many others as they uncover the meaning of this archive and offer insightful critical commentary.

In making the film we conducted extensive interviews and drew upon a collection of 20,000 photographs. We benefited from the results of numerous major exhibitions and scoured newly discovered letters that present a portrait of Helen and Ernie in Ireland. It’s only now, after many decades of effort by Cormac, that we have been able to see who Helen and Ernie were, what challenges they faced, the personal meaning of the work they created, and the public outcomes it had. After almost two years of work, the film is complete. 


“This kind of very modernist approach to photography, seeing something monumental in the structures, you know the way in which the turf was cut, the detail that she looks at that kind of context. Again, from an Irish arts point of view that's very innovative and very different.”

Roisin KennedyArt History Lecturer at the University College Dublin

“There are very few people you'lll ever meet who had Helen's abilities and vision of life and an embracing of life. It's like Joyce said, ' I go forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.' She had that about herself going forward into the world.”

John BehanIrish Sculptor

“It's hard to come up with another couple in Ireland, at that time or indeed since, who had the same breadth of interests and made the same range of contributions to art, to sculpture, collecting, encouraging painters, to photography, to archival work. They were both extraordinarily prolific and energetic.”

Ted SmythIrish Diplomat

“I think it's very important to recognize the contribution of Helen Hooker O'Malley, in the arts scene in its entirety. Not just from being an artist but also being a collector and supporter. So many artists would not have existed without her patronage.”

Yvonne DavisCurator at the University of Limerick

Photos of Ireland


A Modern Eye

Helen Hooker O'Malley's Photography including Ireland in the 1930's and 1970's

On Another Man’s Wound

Ernie O'Malley's first book describing his experiences in the Irish War of Independence

Western Ways

Remembering County Mayo through the eyes of Helen Hooker and Ernie O'Malley.

Singing Flame

The Singing Flame covers the period 1922-1924, and has been called a "work of great historical importance" -- Irish Independent

About The Film

  • Featuring 22 interviews with arts and historical experts
  • Shot in Ireland and the United States in 2019 & 2020
  • Featuring photographs of Ireland from 1935-1970
  • Funded in part by the American Friends of the Arts in Ireland and the Irish American Cultural Institute
  • Made with the support of New York University and the Greenwich Historical Society
  • Made with the support of the National Library of Ireland, the Gallery of Photography Ireland, and the University of Limerick.
  • American Release will be on Connecticut Public Television in the Fall of 2020.

Ernie’s Journey

Through the Irish War of Independence

Introduction Episode

This video introduces a new series celebrating the centennial events of Ernie O’Malley’s journey through the Irish War of Independence and Civil War.

Ballytrain Attack

This video is about the IRA attack on the Royal Irish Constabulary Police Barracks at Ballytrain in February of 1920. Ernie O’Malley participated in the action.

Changing Attitudes in Ireland

This episode chronicles the ongoing journey of Ernie O’Malley through the Irish War of Independence. Cormac O’Malley explores what his father was doing in March 1920 and how attitudes towards the struggle for independence in Ireland were changing.

Hollyford Attack

Cormac visits Ernie’s involvement in the bold attacks on the RIC Barracks at Hollyford, which Ernie and 300 other men participated in.

The Oath

This episode explores a new IRA oath at the time of its creation, changing military tactics, and the assassination of Thomas MacCurtrain, Lord Mayor of Cork.

Drangan Attack

This episode explores the IRA attack on the RIC Barracks in Drangan in June 1920

Our capable team is international


Cormac O'Malley

Independent Producer and editor based in the USA (born in Ireland!)


Bronte Stahl

Independent Producer/Director based in the USA


Chris Kepple

Independent Director/Writer based in the USA


Ross McClean

Independent Director/Producer Based in Ireland


Jesse Edwards

Independent Videographer and Editor based in the USA

I believe that everyone has a story. I have honed my craft through years of study and practice. I love what I do, and I hope that shines through in my work.

I grew up in Mystic, Connecticut, and have spent much of my life at Mystic Seaport Museum. It was there that I developed a deep love for history, art, truth, and beauty.

After earning my BA in Film Studies at Connecticut College, I began my career in filmmaking, photography, and music.

Voice of Ernie O'Malley

Tadhg Peavoy

Independent Journalist/Content Creator based in Ireland

If we can find the right way to share this moment in Ireland’s photographic history, people will be moved by it.

For the past two years, we have worked hard to create a new feature length documentary film entitled: A Call to Arts. The film is about Helen Hooker and Ernie O’Malley in Ireland and their son Cormac’s journey to discover their incredible legacy. I’m honored to have the opportunity to invite you to discover this intimate portrait of a couple who made it their life’s work to see Ireland not for how it was, but for what it could become.

A Call to Arts is a collaboration with some leading Arts, History, and Cultural Institutions

Who Produced This Film?

Irish Visions

Irish Visions LLC was established to celebrate the legacy of the O’Malley Archives through storytelling, publication and film. In 2019 Cormac created Irish Visions as a new home for all of the varied activities, programs and productions relating to the O’Malley Archives. A Call to Arts celebrates this new innovative Irish American approach to historiography, publishing, films and event productions pioneered by Cormac. In the future, Irish Visions will continue to create inspiring and engaging experiences on art, photography, and history for American and Irish audiences.