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Cillian! Cillian! Cillian!'

March 20, 2024 09:44 IST
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Students and principals at the primary and senior schools that Oscar winner Cillian Murphy attended in Cork, Ireland, tell what the triumph means to them.

All Photographs and Videos: Archana Masih for

A couple of days after Cillian Murphy's triumph -- he is the first Irishman to win the Best Actor Oscar -- a congratulatory banner is being put up at the Presentation Brothers Convent in Mardyke, Cork, southern Ireland.

Cillian attended the senior school from ages 12 to 18 and by some accounts it was at the Presentation Brothers Convent that he located his interest in performance.

Unlike India, where an Oscar win would have been greeted by lavish newspaper spreads and Internet coverage over days, the reception in the island, we discover, is respectful, but hardly rapturous.

The Irish Oscar was subdued by news about an Irish gangster on the front page in the Irish Independent newspaper, below.

In his beloved Cork, taxi drivers are surprised that he went to local schools, that Oppenheimer did better business in India than Barbie, but beyond that slight incredulity, one senses marginal interest in the actor.


IMAGE: A star for Cillian spotted on St Patrick's Place, a street in Cork.

Ireland's President Michael D Higgins congratulated Cillian, but the newspapers we read and the Irish new sites we browsed had no mention of Taoiseach (Ireland's prime minister) Leo Varadkar (whose dad Dr Ashok Varadkar hails from Maharashtra) acknowledging the feat. Imagine Modiji ignoring an Indian Oscar!

The Saturday after Cillian lit up the Oscars, Ireland's rugby team -- led by another Presentation Brothers Convent alumnus Peter O'Mahony -- won the Six Nations (England, Scotland, Wales, France and Italy were the other nations) Championship and the rowdy celebrations in Galway, western Ireland, went on late into the night.

The Irish adore sport, but a country that currently, inarguably has the finest writers on earth, seems uncertain how to commemorate artistic achievement, how to celebrate one of 100 actors winning the ultimate accolade in cinematic performance.


Across town, at St Anthonys Boys Primary School in Ballinlough, even though the banner outside hasn't been updated to include the Oscar milestone, above, the children -- too young, incidentally, to have watched Oppenheimer -- are in jubilant mode about a lad who like them attended the primary school for six years, as the videos below testify:

There are also Cillian balloons in the hallway and an interview with the actor from the school magazine some time ago, below.




WATCH: Tots tell us about Cillian's feat...


WATCH: Slightly older kids have their distinctive take...


WATCH: As do these older boys...


Sean Lyons, the charming and ebullient principal at St Anthonys, once shared a classroom with Cillian for a year. He captures the essence of what Cillian's Oscar means for St Anthonys, the school they attended as children in the video below:


St Anthonys marked Cillian's Oscar by giving the boys no homework that Monday afternoon as Sean Lyons explains below:



And how did St Anthonys inspire the young Cillian? "The school gave him belief," Sean Lyons says and more in the video below:



And what does Sean Lyon remember of his former classmate? "Very good humoured," he recalls in the video below, "very good at Scrabble."



David Barry, the principal at Presentation Boys Convent, heard the news about Cillian winning the Oscar on the radio -- Ireland is six hours ahead of Los Angeles, so many Irish folk skipped the live telecast of the 96th Academy Awards -- and he tells in the video below, he knew instantly that he needed to get to school quickly.


IMAGE: Presentation Boys Convent Principal David Barry outside his school as the banner congratulating Cillian Murphy goes up.


Natives of Cork believe they are different from their compatriots on the island. One Dubliner said he found it difficult to understand the Corkian accent. Cork is Ireland's second largest city after the capital Dublin.

So what did Cork contribute to Cillian's personality? David Barry has a thesis which he elaborates on in the couple of videos below:



And how did the Presentation Boys Convent inspire Cillian to take to acting? David Barry cites the chronology of how it happened in the video below:


Final word from Sean Lyons, Cillian's former classmate:




Videos Editor: Rajesh Karkera/
Photographs curated by Manisha Kotian/
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

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