Actor Barry Keoghan as you’ve never seen him before (sucking his thumb in a school play)

O’Connell’s CBS has posted a video of the Irish film actor in a 2004/5 Christmas show

’Tis the season of the Christmas school play, with many a mobile phone held aloft, recording youthful prancing for posterity. Every so often one pops out to read as, um, a portent of future talent.

O’Connell’s CBS on North Richmond Street, Dublin 1 has been rooting through the drawers and has posted some video clips from Christmases past. One 45-second snippet they posted on Twitter, from a school play several years ago.

It shows four lads on stage, gassing on a couch as one struggles to tell the others a story. The others continually interrupt and slag him: “D’ya know that baby, the one that me mam’s going to have, will it have knickers on when it comes out?”, and similar high-end messing.

Actor Barry Keoghan spotted the clip and tweeted his alma mater, asking “What play is that lads?”


It must have sparked something in the actor’s memory.

The school confirmed: “It was called the babysitter. You would have been either 1st or 2nd year!”

“Is that me?”

“Yes, a very young you!”

The very young but recognisable Keoghan is sitting on the end of the couch, lively and laughing, while jibing the boy beside him who is telling the story.

Even at this age he clearly loves being on stage, animated and comfortable in the limelight (he even sucks his thumb).

Keoghan retweeted the video: “This is where it all started!! On stage in O’Connell’s” (with a heart emojii).

In an interview with Donald Clarke in September 2018 Keoghan recalls getting involved with a school play at Christmas and then having that "taken away" from him for misbehaving.

Keoghan told Clarke that after that, “I thought: that’s my acting career over.”

But a part in Mark O’Connor’s debut film Between the Canals got him back into acting. O’Connor saw something special in the young, energetic performer. “It started when I put an ad in a window in Sheriff Street, looking for actors in the area,” O’Connor has said.

Keoghan says: “It was definitely Mark. There was something about the camera there. You could hide behind the camera. It was therapeutic. I was working through emotions and telling a story. That was when I got a feeling and taste for it.”

When the school play was staged in 2004 or 2005, the young actor already had a life’s worth of experience. His mother died from a heroin overdose when he was young, and he and his brother lived in a succession of foster homes, and were later raised by their grandmother.

Keoghan doesn’t dwell on misery. “All my foster homes were very good to me,” he told Clarke. “But it’s still not a very nice experience. It’s only when you’re older, you realise: we were on our own in there. As kids you don’t know what’s happening. You’re here. Then you’re in the next house. But the families were all very good to us.”

He has also talked about how “heroin came into Dublin, and it caught every family. My mother was one of the unlucky ones. She got caught on it, then she passed away.”

Keoghan, a joker who takes things seriously, talked to Clarke about how his early traumas generated coping mechanisms: “But that builds a certain amount of solidness. I have been through it. Not to say my experiences are different to anybody else growing up. But the way I went through it really wasn’t nice. And that does make you a solid man. It makes you deal with things a lot better.”

Keoghan, now 26, has created an impressive career to date. He became well known during the hit series Love/Hate Cardboard Gangsters, then made a name for himself in the 2017 film The Killing of a Sacred Deer, as psychopathic American teenager Martin, and Dunkirk.

As well as his acting career Keoghan is also an amateur boxer, representing the Celtic Core, and is an ambassador for Dior.