I wrote a TV series for RTÉ, took my film to Cannesand mourned my friend Tom Murphy: Mark O’Halloran
Actor and writer Mark O’Halloran, from Ennis, Co Clare, wrote and starred in the award-winning film Adam and Paul in 2004. Since appearing in The Ticket’s names to watch List 12 months ago, Mark has seen his TV series Prosperity gain huge rating on RTÉ, and has won plaudits and awards for his second feature Garage. Mark also lost his friend and Adam and Paul co-star Tom Murphy, who died from cancer in October The past year has been a rollercoaster. There have been strange, exhilarating highs and then lows that I never want to experience again. It was a year that I have certainly learned a lot from, but not one that I’d willingly take on again. It began in a frenzy of writing. My television series Prosperity had been green-lit and I settled down on January 1st to write the bulk of it. Four hours of television is a pretty big piece of work to take on and seeing as we were planning to shoot in early May, I had room for very little else in my life for the whole of spring.
There were other events of course. My second feature film, Garage, was reaching the final stages of its completion, and in mid-February, we discovered that it had been accepted into the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes. All dream-cometrue stuff. Great. Strange. Unimagined.
Then, in the summer, I was free. I took to travelling a little. Albania for a month (wild and funny). And then, in August, I felt I needed to get healthy. I decided to walk the Camino Frances across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostella and then further, to the sea at Finnesterre.
The walk had first been mentioned to me by my friend Tom Murphy some time in the early 1990s, and it had occupied my imagination ever since. And so, on August 18th, I headed off for four-and-a-half weeks and nearly 1,000km of blister-filled, lifeenhancing agony. Little did I know then that within a week of my return, my beloved friend Tom would be dead.
And so to the most important event of the year. An event that makes all the others, all the film festivals and premieres and career stuff seem so trivial. The passing of that great man. No one really saw it coming.
He had been sick for so short a time and it simply made no sense. It felt like he couldn’t die. It wasn’t right. He had too much to give and was too good a person to just leave us. But it did happen, and it is a very different world I live in now, knowing that Tom is no longer here.
And though the pain of his loss has felt, at times, almost unbearable, there was something positive I learned from it. That Tom had great friends and that I have great friends. Strong, caring, lovely people, and together we share our loss and pain and grief and we help one another through. That gives me great courage for the future and it is something I am going to carry into the New Year with me,