A Dream come true for Lily

This week, Fergus Dennehy talks to Killarney actress, singer and musician, Lily MacMonagle about why acting is her main love, her award winning role as ‘Charity’ in Killarney Musical Society’s production of ‘Sweet Charity’ and her advice to young performers out there to follow their own dreams

Lily MacMonagle, Killarney Musical Society, winner of the ‘Best Actress’ award for her role as ‘Charity’ in Sweet Charity reacts to the crowd after the announcement at the recent AIMS annual Musical Society awards in the INEC, Killarney. Photo by Don MacMonagle
Lily MacMonagle, Killarney Musical Society, winner of the ‘Best Actress’ award for her role as ‘Charity’ in Sweet Charity reacts to the crowd after the announcement at the recent AIMS annual Musical Society awards in the INEC, Killarney. Photo by Don MacMonagle

With her wedding next month and an award win to her name, it's safe to say that 2018 will certainly go down as a very special year in the life of Lily MacMonagle.

The Killarney native may be a jack of all trades as she describes herself as an actress, a singer and a musician, but Lily is emphatic when she states that her true passions lie in the acting world.

"Acting is definitely my favourite. My favourite thing about it is that you can be anybody. You have no inhibitions and you can really get on stage and be this character," she said, speaking to The Kerryman on Monday.

"You can manipulate the audience with the character you are playing. You can be really nasty or you can have a really fabulous character - I just love being able to get on stage and become this character," she continued.

It's been a long and winding road for Lily and her performing career, with her very first forays into the business coming at a very early age.

She was, in her own words, "blaggarding around the house" and helping to create and put on her own mini shows with her cousins. As she grew older, this passion for creativity and performing just grew and grew and to quote Lily again, "it was just something that I knew I wanted to get into."

What followed for Lily as she entered primary school were trips to Cork for dance lessons and as she moved into secondary school, she moved more and more into the musical world that would one day become her second home.

"After this I went on to college where I did four years of performing arts up in Dublin. I really did [get bitten by the performing bug]. My parents were like 'Oh Lily, are you sure this is what you want to do?' and I said 'Oh yeah, definitely!'" she laughed.

At the annual Association of Irish Musical Societies (AIMS) awards in the INEC last month, this passion for acting and years of hard work were well and truly rewarded in the INEC when Lily took home the 'Best Actress' award for her starring role as Charity in Killarney Musical Society's production of 'Sweet Charity' - a role that she described as her favourite to date.

"She [Charity] was definitely the best role I've had. It was a role that challenged me to no end. From the minute that I got the script, if you looked at the script I got, it was just all highlighted, the whole script," she laughed.

"It was trying to learn the lines with thought behind it. It was the stress of trying to get the whole room to understand what's going on in the show. Then she was dancing, then she was singing and then I was trying to win the audience over. It was definitely the most challenging thing that I've ever done in my life," she said.

To then win an award for such a challenging role and demanding, this must surely have been the crowning achievement of her acting career to date?

"You've no idea. Genuinely, from the bottom of my heart, to win an award and to be recognised for putting in such hard work. It's unreal, not just for me, but for the whole show and cast. We all worked together as a team and I know that I wouldn't have got that award if everyone behind me and alongside me weren't doing a brilliant job. I know that for a fact," she continued.

As we reached the end of our chart, I asked Lily if she had any advice to any young performers out there who might read this article - and by jove, she delivered.

"Personally, I used to set myself very high standards that I had to reach. You know, I told myself that I had to reach Broadway, I had to do this play. But then, there came a time in my life when I hadn't done any of this and I kind of got a bit down about it and I lost a bit of my confidence," she said.

"Now though, I can hand on my heart say that you don't need to achieve all that to be happy. I followed my dreams, I have won an award for something that I worked really hard at and at something that I love."

"That's me succeeding at my dreams, it doesn't matter the scale of it, it's all about achieving it for yourself and being proud of yourself. That's a very hard thing to do, but it's hugely rewarding when you get there," she finished.

Lily has already reaped these hugely rewarding awards in her short career and you wouldn't bet against her achieving much, much more over the next few years.

Kerryman

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