First Christmas in Dublin, 1986
Gary and many of the American crew arrived in Dublin, Ireland on November 14th, 1986, just seven days before the premiere release of An American Tail. Don had stayed back to attend the premiere in Los Angeles and flew to Dublin the next day. The remainder of the 87crew members arrived over the next few weeks. That year they had Thanksgiving and Christmas at the home that Gary and Cathy rented on Woodbine Road just a short walk from UCD, the University College of Dublin and about five miles from the building that would become the Sullivan/Bluth Animation Studios, and eventually Don Bluth Entertainment, Ireland Ltd.
Most of the 87 crew members came with spouses, children and their pets. There was a six-month requirement to quarantine the animals at a government facility (that was difficult for the pets and their owners). They could visit them daily, but it was a half hour drive to get to the facility from the studio. They (including the Canadian artists) had moved from the sunny desert environment of northern Los Angeles to the cool, damp, green, island called Ireland, far north of the equator, where they sometimes endured days that provided all four seasons. The experience of leaving their homes in southern California was quite a trauma for many of them. It was a bit of a shock and some felt that it was like being thrown back in time to the mid-fifties. Most stores were only open from 9 to 5, except for Thursdays when they were open from 9: am to 9: pm, and closed Sunday. Though, during the final weeks leading up to Christmas, stores were open to nine every night. Cathy had arrived in August to put her two children in high school and to search for rental homes for the incoming artists, technicians and administrators. She found and committed to 47 homes for the first arrivals.
In order to create a family atmosphere and include those who had just arrived, Gary and Cathy invited everyone to their first Thanksgiving…then again for their first Christmas in Dublin. It helped avoid nostalgia or home-sickness by being together.
The photos below, were taken by Gary in the living room of the house where some of the “family” joined Don and John (Pomeroy) in marathon game of Trivial Pursuit – Silver Screen Edition. Some of you may know or have seen the names of these new emigrants to Ireland in the end credits of their animated films.