Bray People - - INTERVIEW -

AUGHRIM na­tive Sinead O’Lough­lin is ar­tis­ti­cally in­clined. Of that there is no doubt, though it is hard to find the cor­rect pi­geon-hole for this multi-tal­ented lady.

In a re­cent ver­sion of her CV, she de­scribed her­self as a writer, the­atre maker and drama fa­cil­i­ta­tor. Now the ti­tle ‘movie maker’ may be added to the list.

She has spent the last few weeks busily putting the edit­ing touches to a short film called ‘Home­com­ing’, which is sure to en­gage all who have the op­por­tu­nity to see it.

Now that she lives in the Dublin vil­lage of Chapeli­zod, the pro­duc­tion proved a gen­uine home­com­ing for her as it was largely shot in and around the south Wick­low coun­try­side where she grew up.

Once the fi­nal cut is ready and two days’ work on lo­ca­tion are re­duced to 10 or 11 in­tense min­utes, then it will be pre­miered by the county coun­cil, which backed the project.

Af­ter that, it will be screened a fes­ti­vals around the world, giv­ing au­di­ences far and wide a view of the hilly green fields around Aughrim. They are sure to be en­chanted.

Sinéad first had an inkling that she might be cre­atively in­clined when she was a school­girl at­tend­ing St Mary’s Se­condary School in Ark­low. The daugh­ter of Mary and Wil­lie O’Lough­lin got the stage bug in first year.

She played the part of a Munchkin in the school pro­duc­tion of ‘Wizard of Oz’, which starred Denise Bren­nan, who went on to make her mark on the pro­fes­sional stage.

Sinéad later hung around Gorey Lit­tle The­atre as a teenager and kept her cre­ative op­tions open in her choice of col­lege.

She headed for Dún Laoghaire and a course of me­dia and cul­tural stud­ies. With a tal­ent for writ­ing, she had it half in mind to be­come a jour­nal­ist but grad­u­ally steered her ca­reer into less fran­tic wa­ter.

The cul­tural stud­ies de­part­ment in Dún Laoghaire was not im­me­di­ately aligned with the col­lege’s film school, tend­ing to pro­duce critics rather than cre­ators.

‘Our course was very good but we were talk­ing about films rather than mak­ing them and I wished it was more prac­ti­cal,’ Sinéad re­calls.

She tried to bridge the gap by join­ing the col­lege drama so­ci­ety but there was no im­me­di­ate move into the arts on grad­u­a­tion as she spent a year back on cam­pus work­ing as stu­dent wel­fare of­fi­cer.

She then shook off the dust of Dublin by head­ing for Van­cou­ver on the far side of Canada where some of the same urges rose to the sur­face dur­ing her time off from tem­po­rary em­ploy­ment wait­ress­ing or work­ing in of­fices.

She ap­peared with a lo­cal the­atre group in a mur­der mys­tery and took a screen­writ­ing course, re­turn­ing to Ire­land keen to build on that ex­pe­ri­ence.

But back in Ire­land as a 23-year-old, she landed a job in the more hum­drum sur­round­ings of Hack­ett’s book­mak­ers in Dublin be­fore the call of the arts lured her west­wards.

She en­rolled on an en­rich­ing year long course of the­atre stud­ies at NUI Gal­way, where this time she steered away from the re­view­ing and in­stead rolled up her sleeves for real act­ing.

The regime in Gal­way also al­lowed her scope to write for the the­atre, in­vent­ing a play which was ac­cepted by the pro­mot­ers of a one-act fes­ti­val.

In or­der to see it safely on to the stage, she ended up di­rect­ing ‘Wake’ her­self for the Gal­way Youth The­atre. The mem­ory is a happy one: ‘It was the first time that I wrote some­thing and it was re­ally ex­cit­ing.’

She re­mem­bers the re­al­ity of the per­for­mance at the Flat Lake Fes­ti­val with her col­lab­o­ra­tor Mary El­iz­a­beth Burke Kennedy. ‘We were so broke that we shared a pint of Guin­ness in the pub af­ter­wards.’

The sub­ject mat­ter of ‘Wake’ was the sui­cide of a young man and, though plans to bring it to Elec­tric Pic­nic never quite be­came a re­al­ity, the work turned out to have a last­ing im­pact on the new play­wright.

Sinéad con­fesses that she has been tin­ker­ing with it ever since – a full-length ver­sion lies in a drawer some­where – and that the char­ac­ters of what was essen­tially aca­demic home­work have come again to life in ‘Home­com­ing’.

‘I write but I stop and start – it’s a con­fi­dence thing,’ she muses, glad that the film has al­lowed her to bring the long run­ning piece to a de­cent con­clu­sion eight years on.

In the in­ter­ven­ing years, she made her­self busy on the arts scene in Dublin, with­out quite hav­ing the nerve to push her­self into the spotlight, pre­fer­ring to work as a pro­ducer/ ad­min­is­tra­tor with lo­cal projects in Lim­er­ick and Blan­chard­stown.

Col­lab­o­ra­tors in­cluded women in a do­mes­tic work­ers’ ac­tion group and a bunch of re­cov­er­ing for­mer drug ad­dicts – ‘amaz­ing peo­ple’ as she re­calls them.

The writ­ing bug con­tin­ued to bite along the way, no­tably with a 1,500-word piece called ‘Sun­day’ which brought her back to Dún Laoghaire for an an­thol­ogy cel­e­brat­ing the open­ing of the pub­lic li­brary there.

And the siren call of fa­mil­iar hills stimu-

Sinéad O’Lough­lin.

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