“The Pier” shows at 6:30 tonight in Railroad Square Cinema and again at 9:30 p.m. Friday in the Waterville Opera House.

“To be Irish is to know that in the end the world will break your heart.”

— Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Every Irishman is a writer. Every Irishman is an actor, whether it’s telling a story he’s made up on the spot in a corner bar and playing all the characters himself, or standing on a Broadway stage or in front of a camera.

Every Irishman has it in his blood. So don’t be talking about how Gerry Hurley is not a professional actor.

It’s no surprise to see what Hurley, this writer-director-actor, has done with a pocket full of change and eight clear days in Ireland and a couple in New York. The result of his passion is “The Pier,” a small, imperfect but lovely little film that takes its taste from the lamb of Ireland, and the smell of it from the peat and spilled whiskey.

Larry McCarthy (Karl Johnson), a grizzled old Irishman from the bloodline of Barry Fitzgerald, thinks of himself not long for this world, and there are a few matters pending that he himself no longer has the broth in his veins to complete. So he makes a call from a booth in Ireland and drags his errant son out of a job in New York to come home and bury him, so ill he is.

The son, Jack (Gerry Hurley), is hard pressed in the new country to put two nickels together. He works hard for a living and is not doing that well. The soles of his shoes are so thin he can step on a dime and tell if it’s heads or tails.

Jack has to borrow the plane fare, and he goes home to a land he was eager to leave. In the murky past, it was all about this pier that stuck out into the foggy sea and how his mother died falling off it. A tragic accident, it was called, but it was all wrapped up in the old man’s boozy life.

So when Jack gets home to the father who has been conning him his whole life long, he finds another grand con in the making. As he drives to the house, he sees the old man in a yellow jacket, out swinging at a golf ball on a rain-soaked meadow. Yes, the old boy pulled a fast one, and now Jack hasn’t the money to go back, so he agrees to do the job he’s been saddled with.

So when Jack gets home to the father who has been conning him his whole life long, he finds another grand con in the making. As he drives to the house, he sees the old man in a yellow jacket, out swinging at a golf ball on a rain-soaked meadow. Yes, the old boy pulled a fast one, and now Jack hasn’t the money to go back, so he agrees to do the job he’s been saddled with.

It’s the book. Pop McCarthy has a book full of locals who, over the years, have owed him prodigious amounts for his carpentry work. Now he wants it back, and he wants his son to persuade them and maybe break a few kneecaps. What choice does he have?

While working the deal, young Jack meets an American nurse, Grace Ross (Lili Taylor), who is in Cork on her own pilgrimage. Grace has her own personal rain to carry around in her purse, and she’s not eager to jump into a relationship with an unemployed local.

Of course this is Ireland, and these are Irish souls, and there is no Gaelic word for closure. Still, the end has to come, sins must be forgiven, tears wiped away and death’s mysteries resolved.

“The Pier” is not “The Quiet Man.” Lili is not Maureen O’Hara; Gerry Hurley is no John Wayne. This is the new Ireland with new problems. It’s the work of a poet and artist, and it’s a gift for you to view.

These are real folk with calluses on their hands and a few on their souls. This movie is a work of love, shot in a few days on the shores of West Cork, from the tear-stained soil my own grandmother left with one suitcase and her rosary, leaving her heart behind in a gutter full of rain.

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.