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‘I’m still brutal at this!’

Cillian Murphy and Irish crime drama KIN were among the big winners at the Irish Television and Film Academy Awards on Saturday night in Dublin.

Hosted by Baz Ashwamy, the IFTAs are generally seen as the last big night of the awards season and a total of 28 gongs were handed out at the star-studded ceremony at the Royal Convention Centre in Dublin after what has been a bumper year for Irish talent at the Oscars and Golden Globes.

Murphy won the Lead Actor award for his Oscar-winning role in Oppenheimer, Agnes O’Casey won Lead Actress and KIN picked up five awards, including Best Drama.

Accepting his IFTA, Murphy said: “I’m still so brutal at this!

“There are so many people here I admire… It made me think of being here and being a young actor and getting so much encouragement from so many people… a lot of love and encouragement.”

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Also nominated for Lead Actor were Andrew Scott for All of Us Strangers, David Wilmot for Lies We Tell, Barry Keoghan for Saltburn, Barry Ward for That They May Face the Rising Sun, and Pierce Brosnan for The Last Rifleman.

Murphy continued: “People call it showbusiness but it feels like a community when it’s done well.

“And to my wife, my amazing wife Yvonne McGuinness, for keeping me sane!”

KIN star Clare Dunne took her third IFTA when she won the award for Lead Actress in a Drama in a category which also included Sharon Horgan for Best Interests, Niamh Algar for Malpractice and Caitriona Balfe for Outlander.

Clare Dunne won the IFTA for Lead Actress for KIN

Speaking to the media in the winners’ room after her win, Dunne said: “I am absolutely buzzing. I genuinely did not expect to win, I really didn’t because everyone else was phenomenal in their roles. I am delighted!”

Speaking about playing a lead role in a drama about a crime family, she said she was attracted to the ‘”dark side” of the story, adding, “I think people love to see that on the screen. What I loved about KIN is that it’s not your typical crime drama – it goes into the more personal aspects of what it is like to be in that world.

It shows the day-to-day life. I’ve never seen that in a script. The first time I read the script. I couldn’t move for two hours.”

KIN director Kate Dolan triumphed over the likes of Happy Valley and Northern Lights to win the award for Director – Drama.

Director and author Neil Jordan presented actor Stephen Rea, who has appeared in many of Jordan’s films including The Crying Game and The End of The Affair, with the IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award.

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In a video montage, Oscar-winner Cillian Murphy described the Belfast actor as “one of the greatest people I know”, and Jessie Buckley called him a “beautiful poetic man”.

The audience took to their feet as Rea made his way to the stage. Accepting the IFTA, he said: “This is a most prestigious award, if it had happened a little bit later, it might have been a posthumous award.”

He paid tribute to “inspired cultural minister” Michael D Higgins and to the charity UNICEF, encouraging people to donate to them.

He also thanked his two sons Danny and Oscar, who he said are “the most important thing in my life”.

Speaking to RTÉ on the red carpet earlier in the evening, Rea said: “It’s great to have your work overall time appreciated by people who know what they’re talking about so I’m very happy.”

Stephen Rea and Neil Jordan backstage at the IFTA Awards

He also praised Belfast rap trio Kneecap, who were nominated for their self-titled film, saying: “They are the future, I think they’re great.”

During his acceptance speech, the actor said Jordan’s movie The Crying Game “changed everything” for him.

“It was a film where people of a similar sex fell for each other. A man could love a man, not that I do. I love my son. The beauty of that piece of art was that it was the future for Irish people. This man who was in the IRA realises that it’s not doing enough for him.”

Asked if he thought IFTA should have waited a few years to give him the award, her said, “It’s as well that I got it now! It’s just so amazing to hear my contemporaries and colleagues saying all those things about me.”

The Young Offenders stars Alex Murphy and Demi Isaac Oviawe presenting the IFTA for Script – Drama to the show’s writer, Peter McKenna for this work on Hidden Assets and KIN.

The first award of the night was Lead Actor in a TV Drama and Outlander star Caitríona Balfe presented Éanna Hardwicke with the accolade for his role in The Sixth Commandment.

Éanna Hardwicke with his Lead Actor IFTA

Taking to the stage to accept his award, Hardwicke said: “I want to thank the cast of this show… it was an honour to work with you and a joy and a masterclass every day. A huge thank you to my family and my wonderful mum who’s with me today and my best mate Chris Walley… I’m so proud to be an Irish actor…”

He also paid tribute to Irish people who use their voice in support of Palestine. “Long may we be a voice for peace and justice worldwide.

Speaking backstage about his first-ever IFTA win, he said: “My head is spinning at the moment. I’m really happy.

“Just to be in that room with people you work with and admire and love makes it extra special. I’m really glad to be here with a piece of work I’m really proud of.”

The final award of the night was for Best Film and it went to That They May Face the Rising Sun, the big-screen adaptation of John McGahern acclaimed novel of the same name.

It faced competition from Double Blind, Flora and Son, Lies We Tell, LOLA and Verdigris on Saturday night.

Here are the full list of winners of the IFTAs 2024.

You can watch highlights of the IFTAs this Monday night on RTÉ2 at 9.35pm.

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