This Much I Know: Actor Aislin McGuckin

This Much I Know: Actor Aislin McGuckin

I was a watchful and observant child, my profession might be a puzzle to my classmates.

It still surprises me as I am achingly private and do not enjoy being at the centre of attention.

I had ambitions to become a barrister, performance again, I suppose.

I can’t remember the exact circumstance of deciding to become an actor. It came out on top during the decision between law and drama school but I don’t know if I believed I would actually become an actor. The training suggested it might be an extremely interesting journey of self-discovery and the love of performance almost grew out of that.

My family were absolutely not into ‘showbiz’. That said, my mother can be gloriously dramatic on occasion and my father had a flair for drawing. My sister trained as an opera singer and has a beautiful voice and my kids are all very artistic so someone is to be thanked for the creative genes. My paternal grandfather played the fiddle magnificently by all accounts, so I will use him as influencer.

My earliest memory is myself and a red setter, under a Cherry Blossom tree my father was shaking for cherry blossom snow, in Castleconnell, Co Limerick.

I aim for work life balance by probably doing too much (not always as well as I would wish to), and by not engaging in social media at all. I have the feeling there is never, ever enough time to do all I set out to achieve in my day. My children are 13, 9 and 6 years old and all have differing wants and needs, so juggling their pretty busy lives becomes the starting point then my work and life slot in.

I am disciplined about career, family and my children - viciously. In all else, I am possibly a little wild and instinctive.

The best advice I ever received is ‘Please go to bed now’.

The traits I most admire in other people are generosity, honesty and humour.

I could probably write an essay on my faults, but my primary school headmaster Mr McPartland told my mother, on my leaving school, that my main problem was that I didn’t think highly enough of myself. She kindly reminds me of that whenever I am overly self critical, so in homage to them both, I won’t share my (many) faults.

My idea of happiness is the calm of a Sunday evening, well fed, honourably tired and in the company of my loved ones.

My idea of misery is the inability to help those I love.

If I could be reborn as someone else for a day I’d be David Attenborough. My children would be overjoyed by that, they are also in awe of him. In fact, I fear they would ask for it to become permanent, not just for a day.

If money wasn’t an issue I would buy an enormous villa in Italy, a retreat for the people I love, a place to meditate and live off the earth. I would fill it with laughter and debate.

The thing I find most irritating about other people is intentional meanness.

My biggest challenge so far has been keeping strong and positive during a difficult year or two that had all the challenges: death, divorce and a relocation. All challenges can be met if one is lucky enough to have the bedrock of love from family and friends.

Talent or ambition are both equally important but luck plays the strongest part.

My greatest fear is quite specific. Drowning in an upsized wooden boat with a diminishing pocket of air. Psychoanalysts need not send correspondence, I think it’s all about control...

I absolutely believe in an afterlife but I wouldn’t necessarily name the place. When my father died I felt his presence strongly in the trees outside our house. Myself and my children talk about him as frequently now as we did when he was alive. He is still in our lives, even though he has physically left.

So far life has taught me to stay calm if possible. Put in the work. Be kind. Learn everything you can.

Aislín McGuckin stars as Hecuba in the Irish Premiere of Marina Carr’s play by Rough Magic at Project Arts Centre (Sep 25 – Oct 6), as part of Dublin Theatre Festival 2019 - https://dublintheatrefestival.ie/programme/event/hecuba

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