When Gabriel Byrne visits Ireland these days, it is usually not for a vacation in his homeland. His visits turn into whirlwinds of activity–artistic, ambassadorial, and even sometimes personal. By the time he returns to his “other” home in the States, he needs a vacation from his vacation!
I’m Ready For My Closeup Now
Barry McCall’s fashionable coffee table book, benefiting The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), has been underway for some months and Mr. Byrne sat still long enough to be captured for it.
Information originally posted here has been moved to its own posting! Check out the great pictures and learn more about the ISPCC.
You Can Go Home Again (if only for a little while)
Gabriel apparently surprised everyone attending the Ard Scoil Eanna 70th anniversary reunion by unexpectedly showing up to share in the festivities and reminiscing, according to The Herald (June 2, 2010) [This article is not available on the web, but I’ve grabbed it for us, so read below]
IRISH actor Gabriel Byrne has taken a trip down memory lane with a visit to his old school in Crumlin.
The hugely popular star of The Usual Suspects (60) surprised staff and pupils at Ardscoil Eanna on the Crumlin Road to help them celebrate its 70th anniversary.
Sile Dennis, who helped organise Saturday’s commemorative bash, told the Herald: “It was a really fantastic day and it was great for such a big star like Gabriel to come back and share his memories with everyone.
“Gabriel was a student at the school but he also taught history and Spanish here before he decided to become an actor. He was in great spirits as he caught up with many of his former pupils but also his former colleagues and classmates.
“He was really lovely and stayed for ages talking to everyone about his time in the school. He gave a really funny speech and staff presented him with a painting by Mo Kelly, whose grandfather founded the school.”
During his speech to the 400-strong crowd, Gabriel fondly recalled his time working as a teacher in the school and revealed he only originally planned to leave for one year to try his hand at acting.
The Dublin-born actor, who claimed the school offered him a teaching job when no one else would hire him, also said he still has a clock given to him as a departure present and takes it with him everywhere.
The secondary school, which was founded by James J O’Byrne and his wife Esther, officially opened its doors to pupils for the first time on October 2, 1939.
The down-to-earth actor, who was recently named Ireland’s new Ambassador for Culture, joined members of the O’Byrne family, pupils and staff to mark the special occasion.
Remembered as “a man ahead of his time”, James O’Byrne had a deep belief in education for everyone and was one of the first to teach girls alongside boys at the voluntary lay Catholic Secondary School.
The historical school moved to Franshaw House in the early 1940s taking with it a teacher’s desk which once belonged to Padraig Pearse.
There have been four principals in its 70-year history; James O’Byrne, Reiltin Ni Bhroin, Mattie Moloney and Etain O’Moore.
Today there are 80 pupils, 11 staff members and Eibhlin Ni Bhroin is the school manager.
Some images from the event:
The clock? Yes, I have it right here in my pocket.
[Stella fails to create caption out of sheer jealousy]
Updated June 18, 2016:
According to the Irish Times, the school will close this year:
A secondary school founded on the principles of Patrick Pearse’s St Enda’s School is to close after 77 years.
Ardscoil Éanna in Crumlin was set up by a former Irish Volunteer James O’Byrne in 1939, four years after the closure of St Enda’s due to financial difficulties.
One of its first teachers was Pearse’s sister Margaret, who taught at Ardscoil Éanna for many years.
It was founded to provide an education for children in Crumlin, which was then a new suburb of Dublin.
It is closing following the death of its former manager, Eibhlín Ní Bhroin, in 2013. She was the daughter of the founder. He went on to become a Dublin Corporation councillor.
Ms Ní Bhroin stipulated in her will that the school should close after her death. Though the salaries were paid by the State, the family funded all other activities. She felt that a small school such as Ardscoil Éanna could not survive without substantial private funding.
Before she died, she wrote: “The school has served its pupils well. Daddy had a great vision and Réiltín [her sister and former principal] achieved it. I am immensely proud of both of them. I do not regret my decision to close the school. Ardscoil Éanna has fulfilled its purpose.”
Etáin O’Moore, who is Ms Ní Bhroin’s niece and has been the school’s principal for 20 years, said she was heartbroken at its closure. At its peak, between primary and secondary school pupils, it had 500 pupils. Now there are just 50 left, a third year and Leaving Certificate classes. Its most famous past pupil is the actor Gabriel Byrne.
The Scattering of Seeds
The Irish Post has some nice words and a wish for the new cultural ambassador [this article no longer exists at The Irish Post website]:
Perhaps in time Mr Byrne could build on the admirable job he has done so far in bringing some of the problems of the Diaspora into the public domain, and promote a system to at least give emigrants some voice in the affairs of Ireland.
It is interesting how quickly the “cultural” can become “political,” and yet the two are always intertwined, as we know.
The Literary Byrne Effect
In preparation for the current Listowel Writers’ Week, here is a recap of LWW 2009 (unfortunately, the pictures that accompany this recap are missing) which Mr. Byrne officially opened, by Laura Jean Zito. Pertinent quote:
“Where’s your husband?” yelled the man exiting the theatre, St. John’s Church, in the main square in Listowel, Ireland. “Do I care, if Gabriel Byrne’s about?” retorted a woman as I passed her.
Listowel Writers’ Week 2009
That’s Colm Tóibín on the far left, trying not to smile
Mr. Byrne is back in New York City now and shooting for the third season of In Treatment has begun. It appears he had a very productive time during his “vacation,” however!