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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Cusack finally fulfils mother's wishes with an honorary degree

Published 16/06/2013 | 05:00

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PROUD DAY: From left, Jeremy Irons, Sinead Cusack and Richard Boyd Barrett pictured at UCD, where Sinead received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature.
PROUD DAY: From left, Jeremy Irons, Sinead Cusack and Richard Boyd Barrett pictured at UCD, where Sinead received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature.

Sinead Cusack has spoken of how moving it is to receive an honorary degree, after causing "huge disappointment" to her mother, when she decided to quit university to join the Abbey.

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The twice Tony Award-nominated actress was emotional as she accepted the degree in front of her son, Richard Boyd Barrett, and husband of over 30 years Jeremy Irons.

The recently united trio laughed and joked in the sunshine as they posed for family photographs outside O'Reilly Hall in Dublin's UCD yesterday.

Speaking before accepting the honour Ms Cusack said: "I went to UCD when UCD was at Earlsfort Terrace so I go back a long way but I never finished my degree. I left UCD three months before my finals and it was a huge disappointment to my mother."

Her mother, Maureen, had agreed that her daughter could go to the Abbey Theatre but insisted she studied English at University College Dublin at the same time.

It was a feat Sinead managed for over two years before quitting her education close to her final exams.

"So in a way getting this degree is very moving for me because of my mother. She would have been so proud. That is why today means so much to me.

"She died many, many years ago, but I'm sure she's here in spirit today," she said.

Speaking after the ceremony, Academy Award winning actor Irons spoke of his pride at seeing his wife accept the honour. And he touched upon her bravery over the years, before finally being united with her long lost son Richard, whom she had with the recently deceased actor Vincent Dowling and gave up for adoption.

"I can't speak for Sinead but for anybody who has given up a child, it must be the most difficult decision you ever have to make and one which must give you a great deal of trouble and torment over the years. And a lot of it went on at the time. But it is great that we are all here today and well, she found him in the end, didn't she," he said.

Mr Irons later joined a host of big names including Brendan Gleeson, Michael Gambon, Anissa Daoud and Penelope Wilton at the World Actors Forum at Dublin's Gate Theatre where a series of inspirational talks, personal addresses, and question and answer sessions are providing Irish and international actors with a platform to share their experiences of developing their craft.

The weekend forum is being led by veteran theatre owner Michael Colgan in conjunction with the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the Irish Film Board and Failte Ireland.

During the forum Mr Irons spoke about his opposition to the Ringsend incinerator while Brendan Gleeson discussed his personal doubts about playing Winston Churchill, but also Martin Cahill and Michael Collins.

He said sensitivity and a thick skin were the two essential ingredients you needed to be an actor.

Irish Independent

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