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“An Irish Goodbye:” A New Standard for Disability-Focused Stories

New York City, Jan 12 – Heartwarming, witty, and wonderfully sweet, An Irish Goodbye conveys the nuance of two characters caught in the middle of grief while also tackling what some people would consider an unusual brotherhood. Lorcan, played by James Martin, is taken aback by his mother’s death but also is afraid he will lose his brother Turlough. Meanwhile, his brother, played by Seamus O’Hara, struggles to find a way to care for his brother who has Down syndrome. Turlough wants to send Lorcan off to his aunt so he can return to London and just move on.

It is no wonder that this short film has been shortlisted for the BAFTA Film Awards and the Academy Awards. It manages to explore so many complicated subjects in such a short time while also delivering truly charming characters. It can be hard to find honest and well-meaning portrayals of “inter-abled” relationships. So many films show a caretaker who outshines the character with a disability, who is only defined by their struggles. Often, characters like Lorcan would be reduced to tropes surrounding Down syndrome. However, An Irish Goodbye changes everything by making sure that the core of the story is a relationship between brothers.

James Martin as Lorcan in An Irish Goodbye

James Martin as Lorcan in An Irish Goodbye

Lorcan feels like such a wonderfully fleshed-out character, even when people misunderstand him. He is mourning for his mother but also for the previous relationship he’s had with his brother. He also has a memorable personality of his own: he is easily the funniest character and approaches everything in an honest and sweet manner. Turlough finds that maybe he underestimated Lorcan and hasn’t opened himself up to seeing him as he is. Seeing both brothers slowly understand and laugh with each other, in their unique way, will make anyone fall in love with these characters.

James Martin is a rising star who gives so much life and personality to Lorcan. Martin is well known in Ireland for his previous acting roles and as a disability advocate. A proud ambassador for the learning disability charity Mencap, Martin states that “anyone can act” when asked what he would say to actors with learning disabilities (In the UK, the umbrella term learning disabilities includes Down syndrome). He suggests that anyone follows their passion and seeks what’s fun for them.

Writers and Directors Tom Berkeley and Ross White wrote Lorcan’s character with Martin in mind. This is perhaps why Lorcan feels so natural and relatable. It also speaks to the power of authentic casting – it is difficult to imagine anyone else playing the role of Lorcan, because Martin gives so much authenticity and realism to this character. When describing their international festival run, both writer-directors stressed how moving it was to see different countries and cultures react to the film. All in all, almost anyone can relate to the humor and bittersweetness of this film, which might not have been the case without the stellar combination of Berkeley and White’s execution of the film and the actors’ stunning portrayals of their characters.

An Irish Goodbye will move you, humor you, and have you running to reconnect with a loved one.

Meet the Author

Isabella Vargas

Isabella Vargas is a filmmaker and community organizer who grew up chronically ill in South Florida. Her goals are to be a disability advocate in the media space and to craft compelling stories about people who identify as disabled and as BIPOC.

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