On the surface, Lakelands is a film about Gaelic football; at its core it is an exploration of what it means to be a man in a macho society that is evolving from ‘old’ Ireland into a modern society.


Éanna Hardwicke (Normal People) plays Cian, a small town sports star whose life revolves around training, drinking, friends and farming. When a head injury takes football off the table, Cian sinks into depression, wondering who he is if he can’t be a star on the pitch.


Reconnecting with old flame Grace (Danielle Galligan – The Great, Kin, Shadow and Bone), who has returned from London to care for her dying father, gives him the space to be vulnerable and together they navigate the meaning of ‘home’ in a place where you feel like a stranger.


Lakelands has a small town heart, but Cian’s journey – the discovery that a person is not defined by what he does, but who you allow yourself to be – is universal.


Former Sydney Swans footballer Tadhg Kennelly grew up in country Ireland, immersed in Gaelic football culture. However, he is now part of the generation of Irish men changing the idea of what it means to be a man and showcasing positive masculinity, both in his homeland and here in Australia.


“You could be bulletproof in the football club, but you always had your armour on and couldn’t show any vulnerability,” said Kennelly.


Losing his Swans coaching role during covid brought on a period of depression. The support he got from friend David Eccles, prompted the pair to form a men’s wellbeing group, When No One’s Watching WNOW. “We wanted to create a safe and supportive space for men to connect and explore what it means to be better men in our communities,” said Kennelly.


Lakelands is the feature debut for writers and directors Robert Higgins and Patrick McGivney, picking up the Best Film Award at both the 2022 Galway Film Fleadh and Kerry International Film Festival.


Festival Director, Enda Murray says: “Lakelands is a fresh, coming-of-age film from modern small town Ireland that delicately deals with a past steeped in tradition and its impact on mental health. Stunningly shot and movingly told, it features a stellar rising star lead cast in Éanna and Danielle.”