Fassbender family applies for permission to build acting school in Killarney

Josef Fassbender, father of Michael, has applied for permission to convert the West End building, which currently acts as a hairdressers, into an acting school
Fassbender family applies for permission to build acting school in Killarney

Hollywood actor Michael Fassbender pictured when he was honoured by his home town of Killarney with the ‘Order of Innisfallen’ award for his contribution to tourism. Pictured with partner Alicia Vikander in Muckross House in 2016. File picture: Don MacMonagle

A planning application has been received by Kerry County Council for permission for “an acting school” at a building owned by the family of one of the country's best-known actors.

The project is earmarked for the historic – and aptly named – West End House in Killarney town centre, owned by the Fassbender family.

The name, appropriate for an acting school, predates the Fassbenders.

The application is in the name of Dromin Ltd/Josef Fassbender, of Dromin, Fossa, Killarney, the father of actor Michael Fassbender.

A protected structure, West End House is a historic building in Lower New Street. 

 Josef Fassbender at the then West End Restaurant in Killarney in 2008. Picture: Don MacMonagle
Josef Fassbender at the then West End Restaurant in Killarney in 2008. Picture: Don MacMonagle

Josef Fassbender, a German chef, and his Antrim-born wife Adele, ran the building as a restaurant/guest house for many years, with Michael and his sister, Catherine now a neuropsychologist, helping out.

The Fassbenders had moved in 1979 from Heidelberg, where Michael was born, to Fossa, which has strong connections with southern Germany. 

Michael and his sister grew up in Fossa and went to the local school. He developed his taste for acting in St Brendan’s Secondary School in Killarney, he has previously said.

Now living in Portugal with his wife, the actress Alicia Vikander, he keeps close contact with Killarney and his many friends there. He has visited his old school and enthusiastically follows the local car rally of the lakes.

As well as leading the town’s annual St Patrick’s Parade, he has been awarded a number of civic receptions including the town’s highest accolade, the Order of Inisfallen.

As for the potential acting school at the West End, it has taken on a new life in more recent years. It has been leased to Polish family as a beauty and hairdressing business named 'Desire', which is now closed due to the pandemic.

West End House is a historic building in Lower New Street. Picture: Don MacMonagle
West End House is a historic building in Lower New Street. Picture: Don MacMonagle

The 19th-century building was established as a school of cookery and housewifery by Lord Kenmare, who developed the town’s budding tourist industry – training young women for the burgeoning hotel industry, as well as for work in the big houses of Cork and Kerry.

Killarney has a long history of association with dramatic acting and film. The 1936 film The Dawn, a sensation when it was released, was devised, acted and filmed locally. Before that, the Kalem Film Company had located a studio in Killarney and set up in Beaufort near the town.

The council said it was currently validating the application which it received last week. 

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