Understanding The Consequences Of War Through Padraic & Colm’s Relationship In ‘The Banshees Of Inisherin’

Martin McDonagh’s “The Banshees of Inisherin” is a folktale about a fictitious village, Inisherin, in the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway. The residents of the tranquil village of Inisherin never brood over the monotony of their existence, which is what makes them the “Boring Men.” A spark of intrigue develops among these monotonous rural routines when the two closest friends reach the end of their long-standing friendship. One of them, Pádraic Súilleabháin (played by Colin Farrell), was a content young man who gave little thought to the problems of the world until he found at a pub that his friend Colm Doherty (played by Brendan Gleeson) no longer wanted to be his friend. Padraic was concerned as Colm presented a bizarre yet logical explanation for their unexpected split. Colm desired innovative and exciting discussions, which would drive him to create something, but Padraic was unable to provide them since, according to Colm, he was dull. So instead of wasting time with him over pints in the pub, Colm decided to create a tune that he could leave behind in the world. Padraic is devastated but assumes that one day Colm will want to be friends with him again, but all of his expectations are destroyed when Colm threatens to chop his own fingers off one by one if Padraic bothers him. Colm wasn’t just trying to scare him away; he really meant it. Following their argument, every time Padraic confronted Colm, he cut off one of his fingers and threw it at Padraic’s door.


Spoilers Ahead

The Significance Of War In ‘The Banshees Of Inisherin’

The pointless argument between Padraic and Colm escalates into violence. Padraic lost his composure and threatened to burn Colm’s house down when he found that Colm had thrown his chopped fat fingers, which were consumed by his donkey Jenny, causing his death. Here, a lot of queries arise in our minds. Why was this friendship damaged in the first place, and why is it bringing up such hostility? If all these questions had confused you and you had forgotten to take a glance around the background. Let us remind you that McDonagh hadn’t only created a funny fable;  rather, these two men were essentially symbols of what was happening in this historical period of 1923. Between 1922 and 1923, a civil war raged, and the Irish War of Independence had just ended. This war began between the Provisional Government and the anti-treaty Irish Republican Army, who desired a completely free Ireland without British participation. As a result, the Irish, who banded together and fought for freedom against the British, found themselves at war with one another during the Civil War. The men, who were previously brothers and friends, were fighting among themselves, resulting in death. McDonagh rarely depicts the Civil War in relation to Inisherin, but two lonesome locals, Padraic and Colm, emerge as significant representations of war in his film.


Padraic and Colm were inseparable souls, and no one in the village had ever seen them apart. However, a sudden shift makes them distant from one another. Colm had no justification for chopping off his finger, but he wanted to prove his supremacy to Padraic, and Padraic couldn’t have gone to him to refute him either. But his loneliness began to consume him, so the two of them unwillingly got involved in this craziest game to appease their stubbornness and masculine egos. It was shocking to watch Colm commit horrible acts of self-mutilation, just as it was a surprise to see a different version of Padraic than the one we’ve known from the beginning of the story arrive to set Colm’s house on fire. A conflict between them started out as a trivial game and ended up being inhuman, representing the horrible essence of the war and how it has the potential to transform a tranquil world into hell.

Who Was The Banshee Of Inisherin? What Did Dominic’s Death Mean? 

The mysterious female ghost known as a banshee is a fascinating one in Irish legends. They wail or constantly scream at night to foretell a family member’s impending demise. Even though they don’t have Banshees in Inisherin anymore, Colm titles his new song after the folklore. However, the Banshees didn’t abandon the community; as the plot progresses, we see Mrs. McCormick (played by Sheila Flitton), who consistently foretells bad omens, which is probably one of them. McCormick told Padraic about two imminent deaths in the village, which scared his soul, but neither he nor his sister was the victim; it was the death of his only friend, his donkey, Jenny, that ultimately drove Padraic to kill Colm. But right at the moment when we believe the second death was Colm’s, the movie plays with our minds. In the end, Colm appeared to be very much alive since he was terrified of dying, no matter how much power his ego had. Padraic was pleased to see him still alive and gave up on bothering him because neither of them wanted to indulge in this unnecessary conflict any longer. The second death, however, is that of Dominic (played by Barry Keoghan), who committed suicide after Siobhan rejected his proposal. His death revealed his fragility in a society full of furious and strong men. He was the young man who had been tormented by his father, which had virtually ruined his opinion of the men of Inisherin; the only one he considered to be honest and innocent was Padraic, but even Padraic had lost his sanity in the thirst of admiration. If we talk about loneliness, it was more persistent with Dominic than with Padraic; therefore, his death appeared to take him away from this village full of egoistic men. Colm and Padraic eventually didn’t have to embrace death on this journey but instead became two entirely independent individuals who had released themselves from their turmoil and welcomed a fresh, clear morning. But death, in the figure of Mrs. McCormick, sits beside the ruins of Colm’s burned-out house as if she’s only keeping a watch on them from afar.


See more: ‘The Banshees Of Inisherin’ Review: The Funny Sadness Of Lonely Men

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Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda hails from a medical background, yet her journey is to cross the boundaries of medicine and survive in the cinematic world. The surrealistic beauty of cinema and art has attracted her from a very young age. She loves to write poems, songs, and stories, but her dream is to write films someday. She has also worked as a painter, but nothing attracts her more than cinema. Through her writings, she wants to explore the world of cinema more and more and take her readers on the same ride.

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