From ‘little Barry from the flats’ to Oscar nominee: Dublin’s inner city celebrates Barry Keoghan’s success

The manager of a Dublin youth club where the ‘Banshees of Inisherin’ actor started out has called Keoghan’s rise ‘inspiring’

Ellie Harrison
Wednesday 08 March 2023 11:32 GMT
The Banshees of Inisherin trailer

Barry Keoghan – the star whose terrific, twitchy perfomance as the sweet and lonely son of an abusive policeman in The Banshees of Inisherin captivated viewers and earned him an Oscar nod – is inspiring young people in his home city of Dublin.

The manager of a Dublin youth club where the Bafta-winning actor starred in one of his first dramatic roles has hailed the 30-year-old Irishman as a “fantastic role model” who is already an inspiration for the next generation.

Keoghan – who is also nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor alongside the veteran Irish actor Brendan Gleeson – was praised after dedicating his Bafta win to Ireland and “the kids that are dreaming to be something from the area I come from”.

The Dubliner’s mother struggled with drug addiction and died when he was a child, and he was placed in a dozen foster homes along with his brother before going to live with his grandmother.

In the wake of the dizzying success of his acting career, pupils at Keoghan’s former school said he was inspiring – something that Gillian Collins, operations manager of Belvedere Youth Club, agrees with.

“It’s amazing, it’s so positive. It’s great that the north inner city is out there in the media for positive news for a change, not all the negativity. It’s so inspiring,” she told PA.

Keoghan was a member of the club for several years as a young teenager and starred as Link Larkin in their 2010 production of Hairspray – The Musical, one of the first acting roles he ever had.

“He was a charmer,” Collins said.

“He had the little gift to the gab, the little glint in his eye and was full of energy.

“He was just a normal lad from the inner city who had a dream, and put his head down and worked hard and followed that dream, and he’s a fantastic role model. I’m very proud of him.”

Barry Keoghan poses with his Bafta
Barry Keoghan poses with his Bafta (PA Wire)

As the club prepare to put on the next production of Hairspray in May, she said, many young boys have been looking up to Keoghan and are considering pursuing a similar path.

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“The girls are always interested in dancing and singing, and it’s only the last couple of weeks that the boys have shown some sort of an interest,” she said.

“I have a little chap that I just happened to pass by in a corridor and I said, ‘Oh yeah, you got the main part, that’s brilliant. You know, [Barry Keoghan] was the main part when we did Hairspray back in 2010 and now he’s nominated for an Oscar?’ And he was like, ‘He is?’

“It’s like a snowball has started now and is gathering momentum.”

She said that the level of excitement for Keoghan is similar to when Irish boxer Kelly Harrington – who is from the same area of Dublin – won an Olympic gold medal in 2021, and that there’s a “great buzz” about his success.

“Even to be nominated, you’re putting yourself out there on the whole world stage – little Barry from the flats, that’s amazing,” she said.

After starting out on the Irish soap Fair City, Keoghan had one of his first film roles in Northern Ireland action thriller ‘71. More recently, he received acclaim for his performances in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, Yorgos Lanthimos’sThe Killing of a Sacred Deer, and the indie film Calm with Horses, for which he earned a Bafta nomination.

Read The Independent’s five-star review of The Banshees of Inisherin here, and find out who’s nominated for awards at the Oscars, which will take place on Sunday 12 March, here.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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