Locals take centre stage on TV series

Hotly anticipated drama ‘The Virtues’ begins on Channel 4 this evening and the four-part series will feature many local faces from around the town. No less than six local children were chosen for roles in the Shane Meadows-directed drama which is set in Sheffield.
Meadows is a critically acclaimed director best known for his ‘This is England’ productions and his latest series will feature Liverpool actor Stephen Graham who is best known for his role in Snatch where he played Tommy. In the series Stephen returns to Ireland from Liverpool to try and reconnect with his Irish family.
The talented young local actors were unearthed by casting director Nick McGinley back in 2017. Nick, a Dundalk native who is a former student at Bay Estate National School, travelled around local schools looking for schoolkids who might suit the part and also held open auditions in the Town Hall.
Initially the production team were looking for three local children but in the end six travelled over to Sheffield to take part in the drama series. There were also roles for two of the children’s fathers who were asked to take part when arriving over in Sheffield.
One of the father’s in question is Bay Estate man Glenn Humston who travelled over to Sheffield with his then nine-year old son Zach who was chosen to take part in the series. According to Glenn his son loved every minute of his time in Sheffield managed to take the whole thing in his stride.
“Myself and Zach went over to Sheffield about two years ago and to be honest we found the whole experience incredible. Zach is part of the flashback scenes in ‘The Virtues’ and his sister in the series is actually a young girl from Dundalk called Aisling so there’s plenty of local interest. I managed to get a part as an extra which was great and I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished product,” stated Glenn.
Zach’s on-screen sister is played by Aisling Glenholmes who according to mother Roisin also took the whole experience in her stride.
“Aisling was ten went we went over to Sheffield two years ago and it was actually her first time on a plane so it was a very exciting couple of weeks for her. She is a member of Dundalk Musical Society and Nick McGinley spotted her and asked if she would like to have a role in the series. It was a great experience for Aisling and I’m looking forward to watching the programme,” stated Roisin.
Fourteen-year old Edward Finnegan from Bishop’s Court will also be in the series having impressed Nick McGinley at a casting session in An Táin theatre. Edward’s mother Brenda said her son had a great time over in Sheffield and said director Shane Meadows and main actor Stephen Graham could not have been nicer.
Cole Cumiskey and his dad Paul also travelled to Sheffield for the series and both can be seen this evening on screen when the show airs on Channel 4. According to Paul he was a late addition to the series.
“Cole is a member of MAD Youth Theatre here in town and he was chosen by Nick through that. I accompanied him over to Sheffield and when the casting director heard that I’ve been doing a bit of acting over the last four or five years I was also asked would I like a walk on part. I jumped at the chance and the two of us had a great time working with Shane and Stephen.,” revealed Paul.
Carlingford youngster John Brooks also made the trip across the Irish sea with his mother Leanne for the production. According to Leanne John was offered a role as an extra after impressing Nick McGinley at open auditions in St Oliver’s national School.
“John was only nine when we went over to Sheffield but he loved it and he loved the impromptu style of direction that Shane Meadows uses. It was lovely for me to be allowed on set to see the whole set and how it all worked and I have to say we were both really impressed by it all. Everybody was very kind and friendly towards us and it was an experience to remember” stated Leanne.
Last but not least is Criomhthann McGahon who plays young Craigy in the flashback scenes. Criomhthann got the part when impressing casting director Nick McGinley during open auditions in an Tain back in 2017 when he was just ten. According to his mother, Criomhthann really enjoyed the whole process and has recently completed a role in an Ultan Hodgers’ production about the life of well known local poet Jim Craven.

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