Wednesday 17 January 2018

Meet the Irish sports journalist who is making a film about Celtic with a Hollywood star

Jay Baruchel (left) and Eoin O'Callaghan (right).
Jay Baruchel (left) and Eoin O'Callaghan (right). Newsdesk Newsdesk

If it sounds like the plot of a film - an up-and-coming Irish journalist makes it big in North America, becomes friends with a Hollywood star and they embark on a road trip together, all in the name of Celtic FC - that's because it is.

You probably recognise Jay Baruchel from playing Seth Rogen's mohawked buddy in films like Knocked Up and This is the End, but his latest role has him tapping into something far more personal than the version of himself he played alongside Rogen and Jonah Hill when the world was ending outside a house party.

Baruchel and Eoin O'Callaghan, a sports journalist and broadcaster from Cork, are the stars of Celtic Soul, a road trip film that sees the duo travel from Montreal, Baruchel's hometown, to Ireland, as they trace the Canadian actor's roots back to Westport, before the die hard Celtic fans move on to Glasgow and Celtic Park.


O'Callaghan first came into contact with the Hollywood actor when he moved to Toronto in 2009. The former RTE reporter got a job with Fox Sports, working on their soccer show, Fox Soccer Report, which aired nightly in Canada.

Baruchel was a regular a viewer, and the duo formed an unlikely friendship.

"Myself and Jay started messaging on Twitter," O'Callaghan says.

"We had followed each other and swapped pleasantries and I was aware he was a Celtic fan, despite being a proud Montrealer and Canadian.

"From there, we chatted more and he told me of his Irish ancestry - the O'Malleys - who fled Westport in the 1840s to settle in Canada. I thought there were some great parallels with the Celtic origin story - the penniless Irish who arrived in Glasgow and who subsequently saw a club formed to shelter them and provide them with support. That's when Celtic Soul really took off as an idea - around 2013/2014. One night, with a few drinks having settled my nerves, I asked him if he was keen on developing a documentary about his love for Celtic. He was on-board immediately and incredibly excited by the whole thing."

Celtic Soul sees Baruchel and O'Callaghan 'travelling through a blizzard in Montreal, cross-country in Ireland and then hopping a ferry to Scotland. It all leads to the grand finale: Jay attending a Celtic game for the first time, fuelled by everything he's learned on the trip.'

The film premiered in Canada last November and has been screened across North America in recent months in cities such as San Jose, Barcelona, Berlin, Toronto, New York, Las Vegas, Bilbao and Glasgow.

Celtic Soul will be shown in Galway's Town Hall Studio on Saturday at 10.30am as part of the 2017 Film Fleadh.   

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