Saturday 24 March 2018

Saoirse always a 'star' pupil, reveals her on-set teacher

Saoirse Ronan (left) with Paul Huggard, his wife Jane and son Samuel
Saoirse Ronan (left) with Paul Huggard, his wife Jane and son Samuel
Saoirse and her father Paul

Ken Sweeney Entertainment Editor

SHE may have always had her sights set on a stellar Hollywood career, but Saoirse Ronan never forgot to do her homework.

The young actress was also a diligent student who made sure she keep up to date with her exam preparation -- even when she was filming in the middle of the desert, her on-set tutor Paul Huggard revealed yesterday,

Ms Ronan was a special guest at the launch of her teacher's new book, 'Singing the Blues', an account of the history of Dublin football from a fan's perspective.

"Saoirse was great," Mr Huggard said of his former student.

"She always did her homework. I tutored her for three hours a day on set doing history, geography and English for her junior cert, at one stage in the Sahara desert."

And Ms Ronan returned the compliment, describing Mr Huggard, who is also a neighbour of the Ronan family in Co Carlow, as "a laid-back but inspirational teacher" during the book launch party in the Brian Boru pub in Glasnevin, Dublin.

The former secondary school teacher acted as educational tutor to the Oscar nominee on the set of the films 'The Way Back' and 'Hanna' during 2009 and 2010.

Described as a "supporters' memoir", 'Singing The Blues: The Long Walk Back To Happiness on Hill 16 (1974-2011)' follows the Dublin football team from 1974 to 1977 -- when Kevin Heffernan's Dublin were the greatest Gaelic team in the land -- to Sunday, September 18, 2011 -- when Stephen Cluxton's last-gasp kick brought a return to the rare auld times for the Blues.

All-Ireland winner Bernard Brogan senior, father of current Dublin stars Bernard and Alan Brogan, launched the book.

Ms Ronan, who is currently working with Neil Jordan on his new film 'Byzantium', has been learning to play the piano for her role.


Last month the Irish Independent revealed how the 17-year-old had mastered a complicated Beethoven piano sonata in just 12 weeks, despite having never played the instrument before.

All the practice paid off when Ms Ronan shot the scene, in which she played Beethoven's 'Piano Sonata Opus 2, No 3' in front of dozens of extras in Hastings last week.

"It's a scene where my vampire character sits down to play an old piano and entrances everyone with her playing. I was nervous in the lead up to it, but all the practice with my piano teacher Yvonne Collier paid off, and it went fine on the day," Ms Ronan said.

She has starred in big-budget Hollywood movies around the world but the Carlow girl said there was something "extra special" about this vampire thriller 'Byzantium'.

"It's the first time I've worked with an Irish crew. They all have the exact same sense of humour and you kind of feel you know them straight away. I was in Lusk filming with them on Saturday and it was heaven.

"Neil as a director is brilliant, too," she added.

Irish Independent

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