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Star returns to help Barretstown mark its 21,000th 'camper'

SHE has been feted at the Venice and Toronto film festivals and shot movies this year in New Mexico, Montreal and Pittsburgh.

But yesterday actress Sarah Bolger was back in her native Dublin to lend a hand to celebrations marking the 21,000th 'camper' at Barretstown Castle, the facility designed for children affected by serious illness.

Having first found fame with her sister Emma as child stars in Jim Sheridan's 'In America', the 20-year-old looked like she was maturing into a screen siren as she posed in the gardens of the Mansion House.

Rival screen star Saoirse Ronan is in a similar transition and while the pair remain the best of friends, Sarah admits they could soon be vying for the same roles.

Sarah (20) was praised for her latest film, vampire tale 'The Moth Diaries' at the Venice Film Festival.

"There hasn't been any competition yet between myself and Saoirse, but it could happen and I'm sure the best person will get the role," Sarah told the Irish Independent.

The bloodletting could begin sooner than you think, as Saoirse (17) takes on her first adult role next month in another vampire tale, 'Byzantium', while Sarah will portray a self-centred teenager in upcoming Hollywood movie 'As Cool As I Am', and she revealed the difficulties of growing up on-screen -- particularly for her parents.


"In 'As Cool As I am' I play a sexually deviant 17-year-old. There's no nudity, its more playful, but it's very hard for your parents to sit and watch you doing the simplest kissing scene," she said.

Sarah and her sister were joined yesterday by Niall Farrell (21), from Walkinstown in Dublin, who first went to Barretstown when he was 15 after being diagnosed with a brain tumour for the second time.

"Before Barretstown took me in, I was weak. Two major operations on my brain in three years had taken a toll on my body but a larger one on my mind. I could no longer play any sport and my parents were loath to let me go anywhere on my own. My mother heard about Barretstown and put my name down to go to camp for 10 days that summer.

"Barretstown gave me my strength and confidence back, purely through putting me in contact with other people my age who had similar illnesses."

Mr Farrell has completed a BA in journalism and is currently doing an MA in development studies.

RTE Presenter Emma O'Driscoll, Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald, and Lord Mayor of Dublin Andrew Montague were among 100 guests in the Mansion House for the function.

Irish Independent