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From Downton to Derry for actor Ruairi

Actor Ruairi Conaghan, seated centre, with members of the Stage Beyond Theatre Company taking part in a series of workshops as part of their outreach master class programme funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. (DER1014PG083)

Actor Ruairi Conaghan, seated centre, with members of the Stage Beyond Theatre Company taking part in a series of workshops as part of their outreach master class programme funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. (DER1014PG083)

A little bit of the hit TV period drama Downton Abbey came to Derry this week in the shape of actor Ruairi Conaghan.

The 47-year-old, whose father, the late Billy Conaghan was originally from Francis Street in the city, was back in the North West acting in Brian Friel’s ‘Molly Sweeney’ in the Millennium Forum.

He also took time out to spend time with Millennium Forum based theatre company Stage Beyond, a company which works with adults with learning disabilities.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’ Ruairi, who has made numerous TV appearances including Silent Witness, Waking the Dead, The Bill and The Catherine Tate Show said he was delighted to be back in the North West.

“My father is from Derry and my parents are both buried in Culdaff so I have big connections to the North West and it’s always great to be back.

“It’s always great to be involved in Brian Friel’s work. I’ve been in a number of productions of ‘Philadelphia, here I come! and ‘Molly Sweeney’ has been very successful too. For anyone who didn’t get to see it in Derry, we’re playing The Alley in Strabane tonight (Friday) so it’s not too late to come along!”

Ruairi, who has lived in London for the past 20 years, says working in Downton has been his biggest TV role to date.

“I played Kiernan Branson, the brother of the heartthrob; I didn’t actually play the heart throb!” he laughs.

“It was great to be involved with and I’ve been very lucky over the last few years to have had a pretty steady stream of work, and whether it’s stage or screen, that’s always good. I’m also delighted to have the chance to get to know groups like Stage Beyond who are doing very important work,” he said.

 

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