May 7, 2000
Superstar Ralph Fiennes will reveal his secret family heartache to thousands of Irish fans this week.
The Oscar-winning star of Schindler's List and The English Patient, who was partly brought up in West Cork, was smothered in love by his mother because she had endured a desperately unhappy childhood.
Writer Jennifer Lash, who died of cancer in 1993, was physically abused by her ex-Indian Army officer father and ignored by her mother.
At one point she was even certified insane by her parents. Ireland was to play a large part in helping her to rebuild her life when she left England to live here, Fiennes reveals.
She regarded herself as Irish - her mother was born here - and it was where she felt most at home.
She arrived in West Cork in 1971 on an assignment with her photographer husband Mark, Ralph and his five siblings reveal in a documentary, Ralph Fiennes' Blood Ties, to be screened on RTE on Thursday.
"They fell in love with it. She just decided that she didn't want to bring up her children in England but there, on the south-west coast," says Fiennes's sister Sophie. They bought a plot of land and built a house on Dunmanus Bay, near the village of Kilcrohane.
"My father actually build the house with his own hands.
It was a wonderful dream, an adventure," says Ralph's actor brother Joe. Their mother battled against a sense of failure for much of her life.
Her last, largely autobiographical novel, Blood Ties - set in the south west of Ireland - was a harrowing account of the damage a careless and unstable mother could unwittingly wreak on a child.
Fiennes uncovers the painful truth of his mother's background in the documentary.
He examines how how her emotionally scarred youth had a profound effect on their own extraordinary upbringing.
Lash, who was determined to provide a nurturing environment for her own children, lived to see her famous oldest son star in Schindler's List.
She also saw daughter Sophie become a filmmaker, Martha a film director, Magnus a composer, Joseph an actor and Jacob a gamekeeper.
Ralph Fiennes's Blood Ties is on RTE One, Thursday at 11.05pm.