CURRENTLY SEEKING FINANCING: Dúidin, a bilingual Irish and English language documentary, delves into the surprising impact of clay pipe smoking on Irish society. The film explores how this simple habit influenced writing, music, and even political change. By interweaving poems, stories, and music associated with pipes, alongside the political art etched onto them, “Dúidin” unveils the rich history hidden within the humble clay pipe.”
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The documentary opens with a slow-motion, black and white shot of a wrinkled mouth pressing a white clay pipe between its lips. Smoke billows out, momentarily filling the screen. A Gaelic proverb appears: “Is beo duine gan a chairde ach ní beo duine gan a phíopa.” (One may live without friends, but no man can live without his pipe.)

This sets the stage for “Dúidin,” a bilingual exploration of the surprising influence clay pipe smoking held on Irish society. We see the evolution from these humble pipes to modern smoking implements like cigarettes and vapes. Celebrity pipe smokers like Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, Groucho Marx, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Bing Crosby and Andy McDowell are shown alongside Irish historical figures Irish Peig Sayers of the Great Blasket Islands, explorer Tom Crean, writer Patrick Kavanagh, Irish comedian Tommy Tiernan and even a smoking dog from Connemara!

CHAPTER: From Clay to Culture

From the 16th century onwards pipe smoking enjoyed by people of all walks of life, from laborers to wealthy landowners. Not just the short pipe was enjoyed a long stemmed pipe “gunnaire” and the “Sunday pipe” were common. The film takes us to Knockcroghery, a town with a 300-year history of pipe making. We witness the process firsthand, from the molds to the finished product, and learn how this tradition began with a Scotsman named Buckley in the 18th century. The British allowed pipe making to continue in the town as the clay they used was shipped in from England and so was taxed.

By the late 19th century, Knockcroghery pipes were enjoyed by people across Connacht.

Irish instructions on how to smoke a pipe:
Dip in Guinness or whiskey
The art of packing, lighting and smoking
The practicalities of how hot the bowl gets.

Cattle cures and human cures – warts, teeth and more.

Ethel Kelly, a pipe maker, speaks about the tradition and the unique way these pipes were sometimes “cured” by being buried for years, leading to the belief they were made by fairies. Thousands of such pipes are unearthed from archaeological digs across Ireland every year.

CHAPTER: Beyond the Smoke

“Dúidin” delves deeper, examining the surprising artwork found on these pipes. The decorative lines were a distinctly Irish invention ‘rouletting’, and the makers’ marks often went beyond simple identification. Some pipes displayed local business advertisements, Masonic symbols, and even political slogans like “Home Rule” and “Land League.” This blatant disregard for authority serves as a testament to the rebellious spirit of the Irish people.

“Licence for your cat,
Licence for your dog,
Licence for your grannies pipe,
That’s sitting on the hob.”

“To smoke his dudheen,
To drink his cruiskeen,
To flourish his alpeen,
To wallop a spalpeen.”
(MacCall: Wexford.)

The film explores the practicality of clay pipes as well. We learn about the “cutty,” a pipe with a shortened stem for easier use while working, and the tradition of renting a pipe in a bar, where the pub owner would knock off the end of the stem for the next customer.

CHAPTER: A Global Habit

Sir John Hawkins, the notorious English slave trader, is believed to be the first to bring smoking tobacco to Europe. Spanish had brought it back years before however they chewed it and the Spanish people didn’t take to it. However, smoking wasn’t widespread until Sir Walter Raleigh popularized it. The documentary follows the journey of tobacco from a luxury good with small pipe bowls to a readily available crop, leading to the growth of the bowls themselves.

“Dúidin” also explores the global controversy surrounding tobacco. We learn of punishments like death or lip-slitting for tobacco possession in Russia and Turkey, while the Pope attempted to ban smoking in churches threatening excommunication. Cromwell, too, was anti-smoking.

In the 1600’s tobacco production was now well established in the New World, mainly controlled by the Spanish. It was punishable by death to sell a tobacco seed to anyone that was not Spanish. Somehow the people in Ireland were cultivating and curing their own crop. It grew so well! At Kilmacar, County Kilkenny, they were so successful that the British seeing that they were missing out on taxes rounded up the tobacco growers and the leaves were burned at the crossroads. In 1930, under de Valera cigarettes were to contain a percentage of native tobacco leading to the last significant tobacco cultivation in the Ireland. Peig Sayers was known to grow tobacco on the Blaskets.

When “baccy” was in short supply the Irish smoked coltsfoot(Tussilago). When combined with dried rose petals and other herbs, it was known as “spone”.

CHAPTER: Irish Traditions

The film sheds light on the deep social fabric woven around clay pipes in Ireland. Wakes featured pipes and tobacco laid out for attendees, “Lord of Mercy Tobacco”, even leading some youngsters to smoke themselves sick. There’s even a connection between smoking and butter production.

Storytelling was another tradition intertwined with pipes. Resin candles and open fires provided light as the smoke filled the air. One story recounts a woman breaking her pipe in confession after beating her chest. The Irish expression “Cuir sin faoi d’fhiacail agus cogain é” (Put that in your pipe and smoke it) reflects the deep cultural significance of these objects. Any tobacco left unsmoked in the pipe is thrown out as it was considered unlucky to keep it.

The End of an Era

Despite its popularity, pipe smoking faced challenges. The Black Death led to a resurgence in smoking as some believed it offered protection, but health concerns eventually took hold. Production of the pipes in Knockcroghery ceased abruptly in 1921, when the Black and Tans burned the town of Knockcroghery down, left in ‘a mass of smoldering ruins, with the occupants of the houses homeless and destitute, all their belongings being consumed in the general conflagration’. The first warnings appeared in The Lancet in 1858, followed by evidence linking smoking to lung cancer in 1950. Finally, in 2004, Ireland banned smoking in all enclosed public spaces. In 1997, Ethel Kelly revived the craft on the original site of Knockcroghery Curley’s clay-pipe factory, using the tools, moulds and methods dating back almost three centuries.

The documentary ends with a poignant image: a man smoking a pipe adorned with a harp, a symbol of Irish culture, by a turf fire. It’s a reminder of the enduring legacy of the clay pipe, a simple object that transcended its function to become a thread woven into the rich tapestry of Irish society.


This bi-lingual documentary will mix drama and factual elements; taking heads will intercut with
dramatic reenactments. The theatrical retelling of facts will keep the documentary entertaining. We will use fast moving edits with artistic smoke shots utilizing slow motion and images from archive sources.
We will interweave poems and music associated with pipes and the political art inscribed on them. We intend to show how important pipe smoking was to Irish society, how it influenced writing, music and political change.
There is a wealth of photographs: Costumed women, men and children smoking showing how entrenched smoking was in the Irish psyche. We will also use Thomas Nast images of the Irish smoking, how they were vilified.

These dramatizations will be mainly shot in close as inserts under voiceover:
Old man in a dark room smoking his pipe
Wake twists and snuff – Young lads looking at all the pipes
Pipe making – Ethel Kelly
How to smoke a pipe – Dip in Guinness or whiskey – Art of packing, lighting and smoking
Finding fairy pipes in the bog.
Showing art work of pipes,
Red Coats
Show laborer hands free smoking.
Bar man knocking end off the stem for the next customer until it is only a bowl.
Sir Walter Raleigh looking cool smoking a churchwarden
Burning tobacco by the British at the crossroads.
Measuring out a 1⁄4 of a half ounce of tobacco.
Smoking and butter.
Story tellers – resin candles, open fire and the smoking.
Confession – the woman beats her chest and breaks her pipe.
Fellow healthy smoking and surrounded by Black Death.
Show American putting the box up as a souvenir.
We book end with the mouth from the beginning, In a smoky, dark room, lit only by the fire sits
a man on a wooden chair surrounded in smoke.

The music score will be designed by Patrick D’Arcy, an uilleann piper inspired by the music written about pipes, for example, An Dúidín or the The Humours of Castlefin and Star of the County Down “No pipe I’ll smoke, no horse I’ll yoke”. Patrick has worked with Bono (U2), Quincy Jones, Daniel Lanois, Oprah Winfrey, Josh Groban, Neil Diamond, David Foster, Don Was, The Kennedy and Shriver Families, Jacknife Lee, The Rend Collective and the Walt Disney Company.

Director of Photography Denise Woods is highly skilled having trained in BBC, Arri in Berlin and selected to trained with members of the American Cinematographers Society at the Los Angeles Centre Studios, Los Angeles and worked with Paddy Jolley and Christopher Doyle. She will be a tremendous asset to the production. The colour palette will be sepia, verdant greens and a mix of black and white.


In researching clay pipes and their fan base we were very surprised at their reach. Because of the vast amount of clay pipes found in archeological digs many people collect them. The average viewer number for pipe videos on YouTube is 700,000 – 1 million views.
Surprising, too, is the modern ‘hipster’ collector.
We have found Reddit groups with over 23k worldwide members, and many Facebook groups. We intend to target these markets using a geo target ads for Ireland on Reddit, YouTube, Facebook. There are numerous blogs, magazines, conventions (including Pipe Show Global), meetups that we can avail of.
Pipes Magazine has 5-million page views per month and Tobacco Business Magazine apparently always welcomes submissions and ideas for articles. Articles to select blogs such as Art of Manliness, Medium.com can access further audiences.
Our National Cinema and TV audience will predominantly target the Grey Pound nostalgic viewer, the hipster smoking connoisseur and history buffs.
We will publish YouTube on How to Smoke a Clay Pipe and release through various online news sites.
As most of our audience is not readily online we will actively target male retirement community groups, Lions, Free Masons and Mens Sheds. Similarly target Ancient Order of Hibernians, Emerald Society in the USA.


Locations: Roscommon, Dublin, Philadelphia

Status: In Development
Contact: Email Kevin[@]12ptPictures.com
Distribution: TG4

June 21, 2018