Screen legend plans film school for Cork village

THE West Cork village of Glengarriff might seem like the polar opposite of the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, but if one of Ireland’s most famous actresses has her way all of that is about to change.

In a move described as her legacy to the area, legendary screen idol and local resident for 40 years Maureen O’Hara has announced plans for a multi-million euro international film school to be based in the beautiful town.

Before relocating to Glengarriff in 1970, Ms O’Hara, 90, was one of the silver screen’s most prominent actresses.

Among her 62 films were starring roles in works such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and The Quiet Man (1952) – films that helped to shape Hollywood.

The flamed-haired actress is set to be honoured at a celebration in Glengarriff on December 11.

However, the day before the black-tie gala, the movie legend will officially launch the Maureen O’Hara Foundation, which will be responsible for building an ambitious legacy centre and film-training school.

The centre, which is due to be built in 2013, will be developed on a 1.5-acre site recently provided by Cork County Council.

It is expected to cost €8.6 million to develop, with a dual purpose of training Irish and international students in every aspect of film and housing priceless Hollywood memorabilia collected by Ms O’Hara, and to attract more visitors to the picturesque region.

“Maureen O Hara had a brainchild about six years ago to give something back to the people of Ireland,” chief executive of the foundation, Frank McCarthy, explained.

“She wanted to build a centre where she could put all the memorabilia she’s accumulated from over 60 years in films. Our vision is to create this centre, which will be the only film school of its type in Ireland.

“It will house a 120-seat auditorium, be funded through private donations, bursaries and Government funding, and we hope to attract international students as well as providing workshops given by leading Hollywood actors.

“There’s plenty of acting schools around, but this one will be dedicated to all aspects of film-making, including editing, producing, script-writing, technical skills, camera work, lighting and sound. There’s nothing like this in Ireland at the moment,” he said.

The announcement came as it was confirmed Ms O’Hara will be the guest star at the world premiere of a documentary on the making of The Quiet Man. It screens Friday as part of the Corona Cork Film Festival.

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