Irish eyes on China, a Chinese man eyes Ireland

How It’s New York: It’s a counterpoint to the typical story of the beleaguered Irish immigrant making his way to New York, trying to cope with the new world. And how do you say “fugetaboutit” in Irish? Ed Shevlin might be the guy to ask.
How It’s Irish: It’s a dream about Ireland, and dreams aren’t reality, but sometimes they come true in their own strange way. It’s about the Irish language. And has Irish wit.

John Lee looks at a very unusual film about a Chinese man in love with Gaelic, and finds it surprisingly resonant when he thought about Ed Shevlin, another unlikely student of Gaelic, a New York garbage man who’s off to Ireland to learn the language.
While Irish eyes followed the official visit of Taoiseach Enda Kenny to China in March, a little gem of an Irish film made in 2003 has surfaced on YouTube tracing a more humble trip in the opposite direction.
Made nearly ten years ago, but gaining viral traction now, Yu Ming Ainm Dom (or My Name Is Yu Ming) sketches in a scant 13 minutes the story of a bored Chinese clerk, who, with a leap of faith and a spin of the globe, sets his sights on Ireland, where his research tells him the language is Gaelic.
You can see where this is going…
Daniel O’Hara wrote and directed the short which was produced by Grainne O’Carroll. The cast includes Daniel Wu as Yu Ming, Frank Kelly as the old man, Paddy C. Courtney as a barman and Richard Morton as Lenny.
Awards for Yu Ming Ainm Dom:
Best Irish Short &  Best First Short – Galway Film Fleadh 2003
Best Comedy – Aspen Shortsfest 2004
Best Young Director – Broadcast/BBC Young Talent Awards 2004
Best Irish Language Production – IFTAs 2004
The story resonated with me as when I attended the “Celebration of Irish Heritage and Culture” held by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and the New York City Council. The main honoree of the night was the Thomas J. Manton Irish Man of the Year, Ed Shevlin, a New York Department of Sanitation front-line worker (or, as he calls himself, “a bin man”), who, late in life decided to learn Irish and last year earned a Fulbright award to resume his Irish language studies in Ireland. The New York Times even did a video on Ed, who is well known in Irish American circles for his charity and community work.

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Copyright 2012 New York Irish Arts


  1. Great post and video! I came across your blog while I was looking at different international language service‘s online because I’m about to do some traveling. I’m happy I did because that was a fabulous short film, thank you for sharing this with us.