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Ballroom of Romance Director revisits Ballycroy

Film Mayo were delighted to have internationally renowned Film Director Pat O’Connor as their special guest for the launch of Film Mayo, which took place before Christmas.  Pat has a very special relationship with Mayo since filming The Ballroom of Romance (RTÉ and BBC co-production based on the novel by William Trevor) in Ballycroy in the early 80’s. He has very fond memories of his time in Mayo, particularly the warmth of the people in Ballycroy.  The reason that Pat agreed to be the special guest at the launch of Film Mayo was because of the affection that he holds in his heart for Mayo.  During his recent visit Pat talked of how shooting in Mayo was a very special time for him and one of the most fulfilling experiences that he has ever had film-making. 

Pat O’Connor, born in Ardmore, Co Waterford, is a renowned director who is a BAFTA and Jacob’s Award winner. He lived in Los Angeles and Toronto before returning to Ireland to become a producer/director for R.T.E in Dublin where he produced and directed more than 45 television features and documentaries. Then in 1976, he began making dramatic films for Irish T.V.   Throughout his illustrious career he has worked with talented actors including: Daniel Day Lewis in ‘Stars And Bars’, Charlize Theron in ‘Sweet November’, Colin Firth and Natasha Richardson in ‘Month in the Country’, Minnie Driver and Chris O’Donnell in ‘Circle Of Friends’, Helen Mirren, Donal Mc Cann and Jonh Lynch in ‘Cal‘,  Meryl Streep, Kathy Burke, Michael Gambon and Rhys Ifans in ‘Dancing At Lughnasa’, Kevin Kline, Susan Sarandon and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in ‘The January Man’, and many of Ireland’s finest including Brenda Fricker, John Kavanagh, Niall Tobin, Mick Lally and Cyril Cusack in ‘The Ballroom of Romance’.  Among other accolades, Helen Mirren, won the Cannes Film Festival prize for best actress for her role in Cal (1984), A Month in the Country won Best Film at the Brussels Film Festival (1989), Fools of Fortune won Best Picture at the Barcelona Film Festival (1990), and Dancing at Lughnasa was recognised as one of the year’s top ten films by the National Board of Review (1997). Pat O’Connor now lives in New York and continues to be a passionate film-maker and advocate for quality in the industry.

Prior to the launch of Film Mayo, Pat had the opportunity to revisit the Ballroom of Romance in Ballycroy and catch up with some of the local people who starred in the film.  Pat received the same warm welcome that he had received in the 80’s.  He found it a very emotional experience and was delighted to have the opportunity to meet and talk to the people he had worked with and thought so fondly of during the shoot of the film.  They reminisced over tea and cakes in Ballycroy Community Hall. 

 

To name but a few, Pat had the opportunity to catch up with and chat to:  Pat Gallagher (who played the Man with the long arms in the film), Dolly Murray (an extra in the film), Willy Togher (the door man) , Martin Murray (the Drummer) and Liam Togher (who played Bridie’s (Brenda Fricker’s) young lover).  Coincidentally Photographer Terry O’Brien had a photographic exhibition of images he had taken during the shoot of Ballroom of Romance on display in the Hall in Ballycroy. Pat also had an opportunity to see the Ballroom of Romance as it is now, and call into Cleary’s pub and shop.   

Film Mayo is an initiative of Mayo County Council’s Arts Service, working with the former County Development Board, E.U. Creative Industries Projects: Cisnet and CINEW, Mayo Ideas Lab, Westbic, and Mayo County Council departments of Community & Integrated Development, Enterprise & Investment Unit and the Local Enterprise Office, all of whom will work in partnership to further the opportunities for the film sector within the county.

Film Mayo promotes film making in Mayo.  www.filmmayo.ie


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