Eimer Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh interview: ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ costume designer

“It was important to me that I was designing something for Martin, that I was taking his script and really helping to develop and create the characters that were on the page to give a three-dimensional edge to them,” declares costume designer Eimer Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh about designing the vibrant costumes for “The Banshees of Inisherin.” For our recent webchat she adds that she valued director Martin McDonagh “trusting me and not trying to second guess what I was doing or why I was doing something. He was always smiling and generous and he just gave me he free rein. I think it’s really important if you employ a creative team to employ them because you want them to be creative and because you want them to bring something to your production.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.

SEE Exclusive Video Interview: Kerry Condon (‘The Banshees of Inisherin’)

In “The Banshees of Inisherin,” jaded folk musician Colm (Brendan Gleeson) abruptly ends his life-long friendship with his drinking buddy Pádraic (Colin Farrell) on the fictional island of Inisherin, a small remote community off the coast of Ireland during the Irish Civil War. Pádraic’s caring and forthright sister Siobhán (Kerry Condon) and troubled local simpleton Dominic (Barry Keoghan) attempt to repair the damaged relationship by helping to defuse the escalating stand-off between the men, but their collective efforts prove fruitless as Colm’s resolve intensifies, leading to inevitably shocking consequences. The Searchlight Pictures black tragicomedy was written and directed by Oscar winner McDonagh, reuniting Farrell and Gleeson, who previously worked together on McDonagh’s directorial debut “In Bruges” (2008) and Condon after their previous stage collaborations “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” and “The Cripple of Inishmaan,” and McDonagh’s last Oscar-winning film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh loved working with McDonagh on “Banshees,” who gave her free rein to bring something new the film’s look and feel, upending expectations of what a period film set in 1920s Ireland is supposed to look like. Rather than design and construct clothing that would be predictably drab and utilitarian, Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh steered clear of any clichés, which allowed the costumes’ contrasting colors and textures to pop off the screen against the film’s often austere and desaturated backdrop. “I still can’t believe that Martin and Colin and Brendan gave me free reign to do this,” she smiles. “I’ve always believed in my instincts, but sometimes I’ve been a bit nervous, you know, is this the right thing? And I think it’s really important to believe in your instincts. Also, I just know this period so well. I’ve done it a few times and I just felt I was able to bring a certain maturity to it. I mean that in a very pure sense, having looked at this period from so many different angles,” the designer explains.

“There were no clichés. I didn’t want any clichés in this,” she says, adding that “I always remember when I was starting out a long time ago, a costume designer who said ‘you shouldn’t notice the costumes,’ and I thought, ‘what do you mean?’ Now, of course I understand what she meant. You know, it’s all about the character. I think that it is that balance, it’s that balance of saying we have to create. I always say I serve the script and the characters, but with this, because it was Martin McDonagh, it was a fictitious island, it was these characters who are larger than life, there was room there to bring something else to it.”

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UPLOADED Jan 13, 2023 10:30 am