It might be argued that Eileen Walsh is the finest Irish actor working today. Since her breakthrough performance two decades ago in the original stage production of Enda Walsh’s seminal play Disco Pigs, the Cork-born actress has carved a formidable niche for herself as a fearless performer, burning up both stage and screen. From a heartbreaking turn in The Magdeline Sisters to her soulfully stinging comic brilliance in Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney’s Catastrophe and recent theatrical triumph in Marina Carr’s monumental Girl on an Altar, Walsh’s body of work is marked by its eclectic nature and her natural empathy for an array of different characters, each unique and unforgettable in their own right. Next year, she reunites with her Disco Pigs co-star, Cillian Murphy, for the eagerly anticipated screen version of Claire Keegan’s novel Small Things Like These. Walsh has two brilliant (and very different) pieces screening at this year’s KIFF.
As the narrator of Trish McAdam’s Songs of Blood and Destiny she delivers a stoic performance, firmly grounding Marina Carr’s epically intimate take on a variety of iconic historical figures. She also shines in The Golden West, a gorgeous short from the makers of Oscar-winner An Irish Goodbye, where Walsh spars with talented Kerry-native, Aoife Duffin, as one of two sisters fleeing the Famine for America, hellbent on finding their fortune during the gold rush. One of our finest artists and performers, we’re humbled to honour Eileen Walsh’s ongoing contribution to screen craft at this year’s KIFF. She joins an illustrious group of previous recipients as a most worthy addition to a formidable line-up of supremely talented women. We’re delighted that Eileen will join us on Friday night at Randles Hotel to accept the Maureen O’Hara award and discuss her bold and brilliant career to date.
Upon receiving the award, Eileen reacted:
“There’s a photo of me and my sister Bernadette sitting on a picnic bench. I had taken a chunk of my communion money and bought a beige t-shirt and matching skirt. I pulled my knee socks up and smiled for the camera. My parents had brought us for a day trip to see The Quiet Man house. I thought I was as beautiful as she as I sat on the picnic table. My dad insisted he’d try the healthy water spring which smelt awful and tasted worse, although through his twisted face and appalled eyes he squeezed out the words “Ah it’s not that bad”. I’m so delighted to receive this Maureen O’Hara award, her films are one thing but her lasting friendships and continued collaborations with directors and actors is a thing to admire and aspire to. As a proud Cork woman I’m only sorry it’s the Kingdom of Kerry that got there first to give me such an award. Míle Buíochas, Eileen”