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Sixty years on the silver screen

Deasun Ó Seanáin
Written by: Deasún Ó Seanáin
Age Action member


Appearing on TV or in a feature film can be an interesting and memorable experience particularly as one advances in age.

Deasún Ó Seanáin

The first time I appeared on screen was as a nine-year-old in 1958 in a BBC documentary Morning in the Streets which was filmed in Manchester.

My family had moved to this industrial smoke covered city from the green fields of east Mayo. The slum clearance programme was gaining momentum in Britain and the BBC wanted to preserve community life in those areas on film for future generations.

I was playing with an old car tyre when the camera crew arrived and filmed me as can be seen in the photo above. This documentary is available on YouTube. It records a working class community that was soon to be bulldozed and turned into tower blocks and roundabouts.

It was a community that had lived together since the industrial revolution and through two World Wars but would now be scattered to the new suburbs where nobody knew each other.

Of course the kids were happy moving to new estates with more green spaces but many older people were not too happy moving away from where their families had lived for generations.

Even though the back-to-back small ageing houses were not much to look at, there was a strong atmosphere of neighbourliness that could not be replaced in a new clean suburb.

The slum clearance would put an end to the local rag and bone man and the neighbour who would oblige when we had run out of sugar or milk. Supermarkets began to appear and the corner shop was gone for good.

An extra in Murdair Mhám Trasna
An extra in Murdair Mhám Trasna

When in Rome...

The local pawnshop was in great demand for those on a low income whether it was the dole or the old age pension as were the many corner shops who gave groceries ‘on tick’ to trusty locals. The prices were entered in a notebook until the customer was able to pay, which was usually at the end of the week.

My next appearance on screen occurred when I was hitchhiking around Europe in 1968. I was in Rome for a few days when I heard that film extras were needed for The Games starring Ryan O'Neill. A bus arrived at the youth hostel where I was staying and took a dozen or so of us to the film location at Tivoli.

It was a great experience for me at the age of twenty to be rubbing shoulders with actors, film producers and film crews. Many years later I had returned to Ireland at a time when work was scarce and I heard that producer Roger Corman had begun filming Angela Mooney Dies Again starring Mia Farrow and Brendan Gleeson. It was made in Uchtar Ard in Conamara and I managed to get a few days’ work in a number of scenes.

In 2016 Telegael in An Spidéal provided me with more work in the Jack Taylor TV crime series starring Iain Glen. Very soon after that, I was an extra in Murdair Mhám Trasna a TG4 funded film about three innocent men from Conamara that were hanged in 1882 for murder that has just been broadcast.

This film exposed the kind of justice that existed at the time in Ireland.

The scene in which I took part was made in Renmore Barracks in Galway where a replica scaffold had been erected. Seeing a simulated hanging of three men created a brutally sad and horrific atmosphere that I did not forget for a long time after that.

Film still from Never Grow Old

Never grow old

Along the way I got a some work as an extra in Ros na Rún the TG4 soap opera. My next stint came in Never Grow Old starring John Cusack and was made in Glengowla Mines in Conamara. Hundreds of extras from all over the place were involved and was very enjoyable despite the long days and the bad weather.

Overall, being an extra in feature films and on TV has been a great experience for me. I had a chance to observe the making of films and some of the various stages of its production.

From the casting process to the make-up and costume crew I got an insight into the skills of the mostly female workers who travelled the world to wherever the work was in that field.

At first, I did not like having make-up powders and lotions put on my hands and face and having my inside leg measurements taken by feisty females but I soon got used of it!

The mostly male camera and sound technicians and crews were meticulous in their insistence of getting a perfect production. Lots of the scenes had to be rehearsed over and over to near perfection.

Finally, I would highly recommend being a film extra for anyone who is interested filmmaking, whatever your age. It was for me an introduction to the many facets of the film industry that the general public don’t get to see. And who knows, the humble extra could even be discovered as a potential film star!



Fair dues and long may your dreams continue a Deasun must keep an eye for you every movie I see to see if you made it, good look.

Slan Tamaill

Paddy P.

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Top tips for staying cool

  • Keep out of the heat. Stay inside during the hottest time of the day – late morning to mid-afternoon. If you do go out, wear a hat and keep to the shade as much as possible. It’s very important to use sun screen of at least factor 15.
  • If you are travelling by car or public transport always take a bottle of water.
  • Avoid strenuous activity and limit activities like housework and gardening to the early morning or evening when it’s cooler.
  • When inside, try to stay in the coolest parts of your home. Keep curtains and blinds closed in rooms that catch the sun. Remember that lights generate heat. Keep windows shut while it’s cooler inside than out and open them when it gets hotter inside. If it’s safe, you could leave a window open at night when it’s cooler. Fans can help sweat evaporate but do not cool the air itself.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-coloured cotton clothing.
  • Take cool baths or showers.
  • Splash your face with cold water or place a damp cloth or scarf on the back of your neck to help you cool off.
  • Drink lots of fluid – even if you’re not thirsty. Limit drinks with caffeine (like coffee and cola) and avoid alcohol as it can increase dehydration.
  • Eat normally but try to have more cold foods, particularly salads and fruit as they contain a lot of water.

Dehydration and overheating

Extreme heat and humidity can cause you to dehydrate and your body to overheat. Watch out for certain signs: particularly for muscle cramps in your arms, legs or stomach, mild confusion, weakness or sleep problems. If you have any of these, rest in a cool place and drink plenty of fluids. Seek medical advice if your symptoms persist or worsen.

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke

The symptoms of heat exhaustion include headaches, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, pale skin, heavy sweating and a high temperature.

If you have any of these symptoms you must:

  • find a cool place and loosen tight clothes
  • drink plenty of water or fruit juice
  • sponge yourself with cold water or have a cool shower.

If you’re having difficulty, or your symptoms persist for several hours, seek medical advice. Heatstroke can develop if heat exhaustion is left untreated - but it can also develop suddenly and without warning. The symptoms of heatstroke include hot and red skin, headaches, nausea, intense thirst, raised temperature, confusion, aggression and loss of consciousness. Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition.

So if you or someone else shows symptoms:

  • call 999 immediately or 112 if you are in the European Union (you can call 112 from a mobile for free). If you have a community or personal alarm press the button on your pendant to call for help.
  • while waiting for the ambulance, follow the advice given above for heat exhaustion but do not try to give fluids to anyone who is unconscious.

Further information

If you live alone consider asking a relative or friend to visit or phone to check that you are not having difficulties during periods of extreme heat.

  • If you know a neighbour who lives alone, check they are ok.
  •  Check for weather forecasts and temperature warnings on TV and radio, and online at
  • If you have breathing problems or a heart condition your symptoms might get worse when it’s very hot.
  • For further advice about heat-related illness contact your GP.

Summer Raffle Winners

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This year's winners were:

1st Prize winner €1,500

S Deegan, Dublin

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A Parks, Dublin

3rd Prize winner €500

M Dangerfield, Dublin

And the winner of our Sellers Prize was:

Sellers Prize €100

M Kane, Galway, €100

Thank you to all who supported the raffle, this is one of our biggest and most reliable fundraisers, so your support makes all the difference.


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Sixty years on the silver screen | Age Action


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