The film directed by John Sayles; The Secret of Roan Inish is a captivating story about an Irish family; The Coneelly’s. The family’s bond to the island of Roan Inish and the seals that reside nearby is exceptional and mystifying. Why are the Coneelly’s so drawn to the island? The family’s roots on Roan Inish start far back with Fiona’s great great great grandfather Sean Michael who arrives on the island on a prayer. Another Coneelly; Liam, solidifies the connection to Irish island through his marriage to Nula.
Finally the loss of Fiona’s brother Jaime at Roan Inish keeps the island on the mind of the family almost constantly. The Coneelly’s attachment to the Island of Roan Inish is firmly rooted by several factors. One of the most important factors of this revolves around the oldest known member of the family, Sean Michael. Sean Michael was aboard a fishing vessel that capsized; drowning all of the Coneelly fishermen on board except Sean Michael. As the legend tells it; Sean Michael had such a strong soul the sea would not take him.
Seals rescued Sean Michael and took him to the island of Roan Inish; where he colonized and single handedly rebuilt the Coneelly family. Another pivotal member of the family is Liam. On the island everyone is family and when it comes time to find a mate the men leave Roan Inish to find their bride. Young Liam indeed left the island to find his bride; on an island not far away he came across a selkie; a half woman, half seal creature. As the legend tells it a man who is able to keep the skin of a seklie will have her affection forever.
Liam took that advice seriously and captured the skin; and then rightfully gained her affection. They eventually bore children. Their love of the sea was constant; Nula even suggested they build a cradle for their newborn from wood that once sailed the sea. This cradle was passed down through the Coneelly family for years to come and used as a bassinet for each new Coneelly family member. Eventually Nula comes to realize Liam has been keeping her seal skin; at this point she returns to the sea but the seals always seem to stay close to the island of Roan Inish.
Once Nula returns to the sea the Coneelly’s ban the hunting of seals. This is a solid symbolic bond between the Island, Seals and the Family. Finally the last important factor for the family connection to the island is that of young Jaime, Fiona’s brother. After Fiona is told the story about Jaime’s disappearance she becomes obsessed with the idea that Jaime is alive. Fiona makes two trips to Roan Inish before convincing the other family members Jamie exists. On the first trip she is brought to the island by Hugh.
Fiona spends a fair amount of time on the island and then spies Jamie in a field. She tries to summon Jamie but he runs away, gets into the family bassinet which he is using as a boat and drifts away. On Fiona’s second trip to the island her boat mysteriously becomes untied from the dock. The boat seems to be lead to the island by way of the Seals. Fiona sees Jamie again and confirms that he is being cared for by the seals. This is another paramount symbol of a strong connection between the Coneelly family and the island.
The bond between the Coneelly family and Roan Inish is steadfast and strong. Their ties between the seals and the island run deep. Sean Michael’s colonization of the island starts the great tie between the family, island and seals. Liam’s marriage Nula strengthens the relationship with the seals and symbolizes the connection between the two. The seals overseeing and caring for Jamie after the Coneelly’s left the island proves that the seals and family are one. Theese clues demonstrates that the Coneelly family belongs on the Island of Roan Inish where the seals and family can live together.