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No regrets: Ciara O’Callaghan on leaving ‘Fair City’ and her new role

Dublin actress is starring in RTÉ’s new series ‘Harry Wild’ and is back in her alma mater Trinity College teaching drama 

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Ciara O’Callaghan played Yvonne Doyle in Fair City.

Ciara O’Callaghan played Yvonne Doyle in Fair City.

Ciara O’Callaghan played Yvonne Doyle in Fair City.

Over two decades on from studying drama at Trinity College, Ciara O’Callaghan has turned into a household name. N ow the actress is back in her alma mater passing on her knowledge to fresh-faced young actors.

The university has been getting its own starring role in dramas like Normal People and Conversations with Friends, along with churning out stars like Paul Mescal, Dominic West and Pauline McLynn.

Its cobblestone courtyard and the historic stone facades are again having another major screen moment in the new RTÉ series, Harry Wild, which stars Jane Seymour, Amy Huberman, and O’Callaghan.

It was a case of full circle for the actress, who has starred in productions ranging from Fair City to Mrs Brown’s Boys and BBC’s Doctors since completing her studies.

“I did drama and theatre in the Samuel Beckett Centre many moons ago and then over the last maybe five years, I have been going in and coaching the acting students there in drama and theatre,” she said.

“So it’s like full circle. It’s just an added bonus to be shooting there as well during Harry Wild, so it has featured a lot for me.

“It’s so good to be back. I mean, it’s where I studied all those years ago in the early 1990s. It’s lovely to see the talent and get a chance to help them along the way.

“I learn from them as well. It keeps the mind fresh because you’re back working with the classics and all plays again.”

Harry Wild centres around a recently retired English professor, played by Seymour, who discovers a real knack for investigation now that she has time on her hands.

She cannot help but interfere with the cases assigned to her police detective son, much to the annoyance of Assistant Garda Commissioner Vivian Mitchell-Tiernan, who is played by O’Callaghan.

Originally the series was due to be filmed in Trinity as a double for Cambridge, because the story was set in England.

“It’s fantastic that they actually went, no if we’re doing this here why don’t we set it in Dublin?” O’Callaghan said.

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At that point best-selling author Jo Spain came on board to co-write the scripts.

“Jo Spain is brilliant,” said the Dublin actress, adding it gave much-needed employment when lockdown restrictions eased.

“It gave loads of work to Irish actors who, like us all, hadn’t been working for the previous 18 months.”

The series sees some meaty scenes playing out between Seymour and the Dublin star.

“Our characters have a few tete a tetes. Harry Wild is undermining what we do and she is solving the cases that my team haven’t been solving. It was great fun doing that with Jane.

“She is such a legend, so down-to-earth, such a hard worker, no airs and graces about her. We had a great summer last year. She loved Ireland, she loved the people.”

The acting coach also noticed the screen legend regularly offering tips to the younger actors on camera angles.

“I don’t think I’d ever describe it as an easy career. I love it and you have to love it, as I say to my students, unless there’s absolutely nothing else you want to do or can imagine doing, you know.

“Because it’s such a commitment and you have to have a thick skin.

“There’s so much rejection and you can’t take it personally.”

The actress became instantly recognisable in the Noughties thanks to her stint playing the mercurial character of Yvonne Doyle in Fair City.

It can be a double-edged sword playing such a memorable screen character in a soap series beamed into the nation’s sitting rooms five times a week.

“I’m out of it eight years now and I still get the odd person coming up to me. It’s changed. Initially it was more ‘is Yvonne coming back?’ or ‘I loved Yvonne’ or ‘I hated Yvonne’ or ‘loved to hate her’,” she said.

“She always had such powerful storylines, but people now will come up and they’ll know Ciara. They’ve seen me in other stuff. And that’s nice to hear.

“When I first came out, I was very lucky because I went off to Doctors in BBC and then I did the Mrs Brown’s Boys tour and I did Bridget and Eamon. That was funny, she was such a different character from Yvonne.

There are no plans to return to the Carrigstown set either.

“I’m happy out. I’ve no plans to go back. I’ve made great friends there over the years and I’m out of it now for such a long, long time.

“I did it, I was happy I did it at the time. And I got great storylines” she said adding with a smile: “I believe she’s somewhere in Spain running a tapas bar.”


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