The same Bronx Irish theater where Saoirse Ronan's story started inspired a generation of Irish in New York, including the author and filmmaker Colin Broderick. These are his recollections of how the theater taught him and his contemporaries to believe in themselves.
Wonderful piece about the Ronan family's time in the Bronx where Saoirse was born. Monica working as a nanny, Paul bartending, and about Paul's early days on the stage at The Bronx Irish Theatre, founded by Jimmy Smallhorne and Chris O'Neill, down on Bainbridge Ave.
It was a special time for a generation of Irish, many of us who were undocumented at the time, myself included. It gave us a place to step out of the shadows and become involved in something hopeful and exciting outside of the bar scene. It was a community unto itself. It gave many of us hope and planted the seed that art was not some elusive dream walled off by class, or wealth, or education, art was something innately human. It turned out all the tools we needed were housed right within the universe of our own imagination.
It was where I first met Larry Kirwan, Pierce Turner, Frank and Malachy McCourt, who all performed there in the early days. Brian F. O’Byrne also spent time working on his craft in that theatre before he went on to roles in Million Dollar Baby and Doubt.
There's a thread that runs from Saoirse's Golden Globe win on Sunday night directly back to that theatre in The Bronx 23 years ago, directly back to a time when a handful of Illegal Irish immigrants were encouraged to have a little belief in themselves. Saoirse's story should serve as a beacon of hope for all young dreamers: the tools you need are housed in the universe of your imagination. Dare to dream. Believe in yourself. Think Big. Absolutely anything is possible.
Next stop The Oscars… We're all rooting for you, Saoirse.
Colin Broderick is an author and filmmaker from Northern Ireland, based in New York City. His film Emerald City is nominated in the Screen category of the IrishCentral Creativity & Arts Awards. More here.