BAFTA winner Seamus O’Hara still has a bit of hurling in him

By Denis O’Hara

Former Cushenun Emmet’s juvenile hurler and Garron Tower student Seamus O’Hara, a BAFTA award winner for the Best Short Film ‘An Irish Goodbye’ quickly returned to this favourite pastime – back to earth from all the glamour and glitz in London to his favourite pastime – that of a hurling coach for the juveniles at the St Moninna Killeavy GAC in south Armagh.

The 32-year-old is soon to head to Los Angeles with the trophy-winning short film ‘An Irish Goodbye’

with his team that includes his close friend James Martin.

The full-time professional actor, who lives outside Newry with wife Mary Ellen and children, Henry and Eileen, has not deserted his roots in hurling.

Born in the Waveney Hospital, Ballymena, on June 25.1990. he played juvenile hurling up to minor level with the Glens of Antrim combined team, St Patrick’s.

A member of Cushendun Emmet’s GAC, he was also in hurling teams while a student at Garron Tower.

Unfortunately, he sustained a head injury while playing in the half forward line for the St Patrick’s team in a game, which ended his active participation as a player – but he switched to become a referee at under age level.

Seamus O’Hara (5th from right on the back row) on the Garron Tower team who lost out to Cross & Passion College in the Gallagher Cup final in Cushendun in June 2004

His father Stephen, a retired teacher and once a restauranteur in Cushendall, explained; “Seamus was injured in that match, even though wearing a helmet..He was knocked completely cold from an accidental hit. Then, he decided to become a hurling coach, and continues doing so for juveniles down at Killeavey. He enjoys doing that, as it also gives him a breather from the tensions of being an actor.”

A close friend of Liam Neeson and Ciaran Hinds, they have been very supportive.

He has been involved recently in their new big film being produced in County Donegal.

Stephen added::”The film, with Liam and Ciaran in starring roles, is ‘Land of Saints and Sinners’

Staying with his background in hurling it keeps his feet on the ground. After all, he was reared in the rough and tumble of hurling action on the Rigs at Cushendun.

“He proved the point in ‘The Northman’ when injured during a scene that suggested the origins of hurling.

The star of the show, Alexander Saggard and Seamus had to clash while swinging huge heavy and crude hurling sticks. Seamus was flattened, cut in the face, but got right up and continued the scene. The producer was astonished.”

The BAFTA success provided great recognition for Seamus and James Martin.

“The adulation follows many years on stage and screen since he left Garron Tower with ‘A; Levels, to enter Queens University and qualify in English and Drama.

.”There have been many great experiences along the way since the big stage role of Manus in Brian Friel’s ‘Translations’, a role Seamus followed Liam Neeson in at the National Theatre, London. Featuring on he Olivier stage there for two long sessions were quite an experience.

“The early shows he was involved in helped to shape his career,so far,- including Six Degrees and the important ‘Northman’ film..

He also read Heaney poems in the Patrick Kavanagh Centre and Kavanagh poems in the Heaney centre – both memorable occasions “

Seamus has also had many parts in various tv films such as ‘Game of Thrones’.

Ciaran Hinds was very supportive when Seamus was a young actor, and used to visit the cafe I ran in Cushendall.”

Seamus O’Hara ( right) withe other members of the cast at the BAFTAs

The old saying that you can take the man out of Cushendun but you can’t take Cushendun out of the man was well illustrated when in an interview before the BAFTAs he told the interviewer the green and black socks he was wearing, specially knitted by his aunt Frances, was a nod to his native Cushendun Emmet’s and his current club Killeavy

Seamus on parade with Cushendun Emmet’s at the All Ireland Feile in 2002 in Belfast. The parade set off from Shaw’s Road and went down the Andersonstown Road to Casement Park

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