Report – Focus on Ireland

Posted on: Thursday 04 July 2019 8:51am by Simon Bor

Ireland has become the go-to place for the creation and production of some truly outstanding content for audiences of all ages. The panel, put together by the Irish industry, revealed what Ireland can offer.


  • A supportive broadcaster and tax breaks have created a world class Irish animation industry.
  • Pablo is a pre-school series that aims to raise awareness of the autistic spectrum.
  • The quality bar, for animation, was raised a long time ago.



Andrew Kavanagh, from Kavaleer Productions, introduced the panel of content-makers from the island of Ireland by asking them to divulge a secret.

Lean Byrne, head of Jam Media’s scripting department told us that she left home at twenty-two but her mother continued to buy the Beano for her until she was twenty-four. Gráinne McGuinness of Paper Owl Films said that if you hear the cry of the banshee, someone will die but fortunately the secret of how to break the spell has been passed down through her family. Alix Wiseman of 9 Story Media’s secret was that she can regress to a teenager when with her family.

Andrew gave us an overview of the current animation scene in Ireland. Twenty-five studios have sold series into 120 territories world wide and have had six Oscar and dozens of BAFTA nominations partly with thanks to a supportive broadcaster in RTE and for tax credits worth up to 32% of production costs.

Lena told us that when you work with American writers, your day is longer. However, for Jam’s fifty-two episode series ‘Little Roy’ 85% of the writers were Irish. “Ireland is a good place for writers,“ chipped in Andrew, adding that the first 50,000 euros were tax free for writers in Ireland.

Grainne is the creator of Pablo, a series about a boy on the autism spectrum. The series aims to build awareness in young people, as its theme song’s lyrics say, “Pablo sees the world in different ways”. Based in Northern Ireland, but with Kavaleer as a partner studio, they can access UK tax breaks and Northern Ireland Screen as well as Irish tax breaks.

Alix Wiseman has been in the distribution side of animation for a quarter of a century and now works with Brown Bag, part of the 9 Story Media Group. “It’s a world class company,” she told us, “everyone in commissioning knows them.” She said that because Ireland was a small country the quality bar had been raised a long time ago. Animation was a mad business to be in and they have to work with international players. She thought that Canada, France and Ireland were on as par as far as financial support was concerned, but that Ireland was great for simple co-productions involving two countries.

In the Q and As, there was concern that the tax breaks might not continue. ‘That prospect is terrifying,” said Alix. It was established that there is a review over some technical issues but that the money was ring fenced and the system was not under threat.

All this and a free bottle of Guiness for every attendee…  Ireland does sound tempting.

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Simon Bor

About the author

Simon Bor


Simon studied Animation at Farnham, and, more recently, was awarded an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University. He set up Honeycomb Animation with Sara Bor and has been involved in children’s television since the mid 1980s. As a writer, Simon has co-written and created several shows including Milkshake’s 'Funky Valley'. As a director and… Read more