Wednesday 13 December 2017

Beloved movie star was just a regular Chap here

Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin with his wife Oona and family in Waterville, Co Kerry, in 1961
Julien Ronet, grandson of Charlie Chaplin at the launch of the Charlie Chaplin short film competition last week

Majella O'Sullivan and Edel O'Connell

ONE of cinema's most beloved personalities was just another guest when he stayed at his favourite hotel on holidays in Ireland.

Charlie Chaplin -- whose motto was "life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in a long shot" -- spent every summer in Waterville, Co Kerry, with his family for almost 40 years.

The town is going to honour him with a comedy film festival next August, but photographs of his time in Ireland show he was happy to mix as one of the locals.

Chaplin was a regular at the Butler Arms Hotel but never sought out special treatment.

Louise Huggard, the fifth generation of her family to run the hotel, says her parents, Peter and Mary, have fond mem-ories of him. "They always said he was lovely. He got involved with the other guests and the reason why he kept on coming back was because he always felt he got away from everything," said Ms Huggard.

"A lot of people in the village would still remember him and his family and two of his daughters, Josephine and Annie, both have houses in the area and visit regularly."

The Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival will run in Waterville on August 25 to 28, with the help of the Chaplin family.

The actor's grandson, filmmaker Julien Ronet (30) said: "A Waterville film festival has been a dream of

my family for many years.

"My mother told me Waterville was one of the few places where my grandfather could enjoy total anonymity. He could walk down the street there without people constantly coming up to him looking for autographs -- it was the one place he could truly relax.

"There is this great story about a fishing trip he was once on. My grandfather grew so tired of not catching anything that he decided to go to the fish shop in Cahirciveen to buy loads of fish, which he then pretended to have caught."

Louise Huggard says this was a tradition at the hotel that still exists to this day.

"At the end of a day's fishing, all the guests would line out their catch in a tray for all to see."

Filmmakers are now being invited to enter short films to the festival under a variety of headings.

A number of high profile directors are being invited to the event, which the family hope will grow annually to become an international event.

Irish Independent

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