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Murphy’s Oscar triumph an inspiration to Cork schoolboys

Pupils at Cillian Murphy’s former national school in Cork have been celebrating the actors Oscar success, with the principal of St Anthony’s telling RTÉ News how the proud Irishman is inspiring the current generation of schoolboys.

Mr Murphy won the Best Actor Oscar at last night’s Academy Awards for his performance in Oppenheimer; the first Irish-born star to win the top male acting gong.

President Michael D Higgins described it as a “wonderful achievement” and praised the actor for his “appropriate dedication” of the award to peacemakers everywhere.

While Lord Mayor of Cork Kieran McCarthy said Mr Murphy remains grounded, humble and a huge inspiration.

Staff and pupils at Mr Murphy’s former national school, St Anthony’s in Ballinlough, Co Cork, have also been celebrating his success.

Principal Sean Lyons described Mr Murphy as a role model and said that the school community was delighted for him and his family.

“This morning when the boys came in, the atmosphere and energy and feel good factor was so positive around the school,” Mr Lyons said

“The boys bounced in with a pep in their step.

“He’s (Murphy) been just a remarkable role model and so humble and so respectful in every way.”

Mr Lyons said that the younger boys were asking about Mr Murphy, what seat he sat in and what class he was in.

“There was a real awe and celebration of what this achievement is,” he said.

“It’s historical, it’s monumental and it’s remarkable to think that he came here from the area, Ballintemple and Ballinlough, and it just shows that hard work, determination, talent, the will to really achieve and go for your goal when you’re there, you can really reach the height.

“To see him receive the Oscar, to be so humble and respectful and grounded at the highest point of his career was just a testament of a remarkable role model for everyone.”

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Mr Lyons described Mr Murphy as humble, gracious and dignified and spoke about being in the same class with him at the end of sixth class.

He said that his memory of Mr Murphy was that he was always good humoured with a smile on his face and had great English and fluent Irish.

“He had a great love of the language, and he was a very good illustrator or drawer in the class,” Mr Lyons said.

“He wasn’t bad either at Scrabble.

“He was a very normal person, a grounded person and liked the craic but a very humble person”.

He paid tribute to Mr Murphy’s father, a school inspector, who Mr Lyons said, had a great love of the Irish language, culture, music and a dedication to special education.

“They’re just amazing family,” Mr Lyons said.

“In an era of when we need role models, whether it’s in sport, the arts, in many areas, it’s just great to see somebody who’s grounded, who has a vision who worked hard and has talent.”

‘One of the most brilliant actors of his generation’

Artistic Director of the Galway International Arts Festival, Paul Fahy, has said there is a widespread sense of joy and delight following Mr Murphy’s Oscar win.

The Cork-born actor has been involved with a number of theatrical productions at the festival over the years and made his debut in Galway during the late 1990s when he performed in Disco Pigs.

He subsequently starred in other Enda Walsh works, including Misterman and Ballyturk.

His most recent GIAF appearance was in 2018, when he was involved in an adaptation of the Max Porter book Grief is a Thing with Feathers.

Mr Fahy said Mr Murphy was truly one of the brilliant actors of his generation. He said he brought an incredible talent to the work he was involved with.

Mr Fahy said he had been struck by how collaborative he was as an artist in rehearsals, describing his approach as “mesmerising”.

He said last night’s Oscar win left people “genuinely delighted” for a person who had worked so hard over almost 30 years and described the success as a wonderful day for the entire Irish arts community.

Additional reporting Pat McGrath

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