Movie magic as GAA club brings Hollywood to Callan but George Clooney won’t be selling popcorn

    Callan girls who will play movie nurses in the movies, from left, Teresa Dawson, Laura O’Connor, Sarah Slevin, Tina Wright

    By Jimmy Rhatigan

    Pic: Donal Foley

    IT’S official.

    The glamour and glitz of Hollywood is back in the spirited town of Callan.

    It is another thumping boost for a place that enjoys world fame thanks to local genius.

    Talented son James Hoban designed the White house in Washington and education pioneer Edmund Ignatius Rice founded the Christian and Presentation Brothers.

    The town got a real whiff of movie land in 2004 when Oscar winning filmmaker Neil Jordan brought Breakfast on Pluto.

    The sweet smell of Beverley Hills never left local nostrils.

    Breakfast was to prove the toast of the town of welcomes.

    A series of movies will be the icing on the cake.

    That will ensure a chorus of lovely hurling from a GAA Club that delights in the colloquialism of The Lockes.

    With the blessing of parish priest Fr Willie Dalton, the local church was in the ago used to film part of a comedy called Breakfast on Pluto centred around a young man, the result of an affair between a parish priest and his housekeeper.

    Locals love to recall the time when Callan made international headlines with a movie that was a box office hit.

    Thanks to the energy and enterprise of John Lockes GAA, the town has again been bitten by the movie bug.

    This time, it is locals who are shooting for the stars as they stage their very own Magnificent Seven.

    There won’t be any gun fights with the likes of Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson, nor will local pubs have to worry about reckless cowpokes swigging strong whiskey and bashing each other with bar stools.

    The US Western of the ‘Sixties won’t feature the super seven but there will be a Magnificent Seven series of short movie blockbusters that will give a new life to Jerry Maguire, Fr Ted, The Snapper, Shawshank Redemption, The Field, Forrest Gump and Bridesmaids.

    No need to send out an SOS for Michael Caine

    It will be a case of move over Hollywood, Callan is the new capital of film.

    Or at least it will be for a few hectic weeks.

    Frances and Michael Gibbs and Donncha Sheehan
    Aisling Bryan and Erica Dunne

    Callan Goes to the Oskars, the spelling is correct in the Callan dictionary, is a novel fund-raiser to help the GAA Club to pay off its final debt on their state of the art complex, one of the finest club headquarters in the South East.

    There was no need to send out an SOS for Michael Caine, Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney or whoever.

    Callan has its own home-grown male and female stars, many of them trained by highly regarded local Variety Club impresario Barry Henriques.

    There is an overall cast of 60 that is well into a five-week programme of drama coaching at the GAA Club on Monday nights.

    The latter is professionally co-ordinated by Kevin Rowe Productions, with tutor Leona O‘Neill.

    Reports say that enthusiastic thespians, some of them heroic performers in theatre are loving every minute of their courtship with what they might term the real thing.

    Among the home-grown who may have one eye on Hollywood, Bollywood maybe, are publican Eddie Kelly of the Steppes Bar, Fianna Fáil politician Matt Doran, young farmer of the year PJ O’Keeffe, former newsagent Paddy Kerwick, Rachel Murray, a star of Strictly Come Dancing, a club money maker of 2016, Jimmy Lynch from Callan Macra and Ormonde Hotel manager Colin Ahern.

    That’s a line-up to be proud of.

    A class act for sure.

    Add in local woman Claire Henriques, Barry’s daughter, the darling of The Watergate Theatre and brilliant comedienne of the local stage and you have a formidable crew.

    Parts are being perfected, lines of movie homework are being learned and on October 28, a super Sunday of a bank holiday weekend will come alive with a movie extravaganza at Cillin Hill.

    Proudly wearing purple and gold of The Lockes

    Pics: Donal Foley

    That will be red carpet night. Cameras will be flashed and locals will be crowned Oscar champions for best actor, best support and a plethora of other bouquets.

    What is expected to be a sell-out, a packed house, will enjoy the results of months of dedication, an insight perhaps into the hard grind that leads to silver screen adulation.

    Jim Cooke, Sean Hogan, PJ O’Keeffe and Richard Adriano
    Sam Bryan and Rachel Murray

    Terrific and talented thespians, passionate amateurs in a tinsel town world of professionals will for the first time enjoy the fruits of their efforts when the seven films, each with an average cast of 8-12 people, will be screened.

    The event will undoubtedly be a smash hit for devoted locals, their families and for the ambitious GAA Club’s 20 teams, including 400 youngsters, team mates in camogie, ladies football and hurling.

    Members of the club love every minute of their action packed sporting lives in a magnificent home that includes four dressing-rooms, function rooms, gym and enclosed astro playing area.

    Tickets for the big night, €20 each, are already selling well through cast members, club officers and at Callan Post Office.

    Boosting the purse will be the proceeds of a local dinner, race night, an ‘80s disco and other events promoted by the cast of each of the high profile films.

    What fantastic commitment.

    Community spirit is a priceless commodity.

    We doubt if George Clooney and Nicole Kidman had to sell popcorn to an audience before the premiere of The Peacemaker.

    Such a chore certainly wouldn’t perturb any of the eager Callan crew.

    But they would much prefer to be battling for the pride of Callan while wearing the purple and gold of The Lockes.