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Wednesday 22 November 2017

Scots speechless as Irish boy lands 'Gaidhlig' role

Kevin MacDonald will be directing the new film. Photo: Getty Images
Kevin MacDonald will be directing the new film. Photo: Getty Images
Ken Sweeney

Ken Sweeney

A young Irish boy will star in a new Hollywood movie after film makers failed to find a native Gaelic speaker in Scotland.

Scots are furious with the decision of UK film producers to choose nine-year-old Thomas Henry for one of main roles in 'The Eagle of the Ninth'.

They searched the length and breadth of Scotland but couldn't find a suitable Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic) speaker and instead chose Henry, from west Belfast.

English and Gaelic are spoken in the new film by director Kevin MacDonald, whose previous credits include 'The Last King Of Scotland'.

The movie tells the story of a Roman legion which disappears in Scotland. Its main characters include a Gaelic-speaking youth called Seal Boy, played by Thomas Henry.

Casting sessions were held throughout Scotland to find a young actor with the required language skills. However when none could be found, auditions moved to Ireland, with Thomas Henry cast in the role.


The result is that the young character in the Scottish epic will now speak Irish as opposed to Scots Gaelic, a huge embarrassment to Gaelic language bodies including The Gaelic Development Agency, which announced funding of €5.7m for the "support and revitalisation" of Gaelic in Scotland last December.

The decision has been criticised by the Scottish National Party's Gaelic spokesman as a snub to the Scottish tongue.

"I could have found them plenty of Gaelic-speaking youngsters who would have fitted the part," said Angus MacNeil, the Gaelic-speaking MP for the Western Isles.

Thomas Henry's mother, Belfast woman Ann Marie Henry, has spoken of her pride in her son securing the film role, which will see him act alongside Donald Sutherland and Jamie Bell in the €17.2m epic.

"Thomas had never done anything like this in his life. It all happened so quickly. Next thing, we were over in Scotland where the movie was being filmed. Now he says he wants to be an actor when he leaves school," she said.

Irish Independent

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