Sunday 19 November 2017

A love story not just for the cameras

'Ros na Run' producers Siobhan Ni Ghadhra and John Brady, have great ambitions for film and TV production in Galway

Siobhan Ni Ghadhra and John Brady met in Galway in 1998. Photo: Andrew Downes
Siobhan Ni Ghadhra and John Brady met in Galway in 1998. Photo: Andrew Downes
Andrea Smith

Andrea Smith

When Siobhan Ni Ghadhra first met John Brady back in 1998, he didn't exactly make a great impression on her. She was working as a secretary for American TV producer/director Roger Corman at his company, Concorde Anois Teo in Galway, and when John came in for meetings, he sometimes spoke to her and sometimes didn't.

"I used to say, 'That fella's as odd'," she smiles. "Now that I know him, I realise he was just really distracted and busy thinking about stuff. He was always a bit stressed and intense, and I thought he was hard work and wasn't particularly fond of him."

John worked on 20 movies in four years for Concorde so it's no wonder he was distracted. He recalls meeting Siobhan at a nightclub when she was a week in the job and he was equally unimpressed. She was a bit tipsy - well, in her defence, she was only 21 and had just received her first pay packet - and as she chatted effervescently, he rolled his eyes and said, "Who's your one" to a colleague. When he encountered her at work on the Monday, he couldn't resist whistling the tune to Wild Thing, much to her mortification.

Siobhan (41) started working in TV and film, having completed a degree in Irish and economics followed by a post-grad diploma in TV and radio production. She grew up in an Irish-speaking family in Furbo, Connemara, and has an older brother and sister. Her late dad Nollaig was an RTC lecturer and her mum, Mairin, ran a playschool.

Siobhan was badly injured in a serious car accident in 1999, when she was hit by a drunk-driver on her way home from picking up an actor from Shannon Airport.

John went to the hospital, where he met her parents for the first time, and her upset mother gave out to him for having her working so late. He called to see her regularly as she recovered and brought her to the cinema. "I think he softened towards me, out of guilt initially, and I realised that he wasn't as bad as I had previously thought," she says. "We became buddies and could chat for hours."

John (53) grew up in Boyle, Roscommon, as the youngest of the late Doreen and Patrick's two children. He boarded at St Mel's in Longford where they watched a film on a projector every Saturday night, sparking his love for the medium.

He went to Colaiste Dhulaigh and after studying communications at DIT, Rathmines, he worked freelance - first doing cameras, sound and offline editing, and then he moved into production.

After four years in Galway John moved back to Dublin, and kept in touch with Siobhan. She invited him to join a group night out in 2003 and that was the night they got together.

"Siobhan's personality is so big and she's such a warm person that she can sweep you off your feet," he says. "She's also very kind and genuinely likes people. She can light up a room with her smile, and she's the smartest person you could meet."

Siobhan and John actually went back to college and did a law degree together at night, and they were married in December 2006. They now have four children, Siofra (nine), Riona, (seven), Naoise, (three) and Odhran (11 months), so life is hectic.

John has a wealth of experience on film and television drama productions. He produced the IFTA award-winning Aifric for TG4 and he has line produced films like A Date for Mad Mary. He has been involved in productions for RTE, TG4, Disney, BBC and ITV, among others. Siobhan has also worked on many productions, including many in animation and kids' TV.

John and Siobhan set up their own production company, Danu Media, in 2014, and they then bought EO Teilifís. which co-produces popular TG4 series Ros na Run, Ireland's only Irish language soap opera, with Tyrone Productions.

Its founder and creator, Maire Ni Thuathail, died from cancer last year, but she had been planning to retire and had approached Siobhan with a succession plan a couple of years earlier. Siobhan worked with Maire as production manager for two years, and has recently taken the reins as executive producer, which she loves.

Filmed in the coastal village of Spiddal, the show is now in its 22nd season and has a weekly viewership in excess of 150,000 people.

It has been praised for its scripting and for tackling issues like homophobia, domestic violence and infertility.

"It's an amazing set-up," Siobhan says. "There are over 150 people employed, and everything is done in-house, from scriptwriting to post-production."

She and John have great ambitions for the set and the campus of Ros na Run and the talent it has created in terms of cast and crew. They have a feature film in development with TG4, and want to attract more international TV and film-making productions to shoot in Connemara and the west of Ireland as they say the facilities and talent are there.

Siobhan likes that John is very straight and is very protective of her and their children. "He's my best friend," she says. "He likes me, warts and all, and he's an amazing father to our children and they adore him.

"We're very different as I'm very chatty and he's quiet and introverted, and we're a good balance for each other. I love his blue eyes and he's strong, with broad shoulders - but the wet towel on the bed still drives me mad 14 years later."

Ros na Run, TG4, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8.30pm

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