As lockdown locations go, you couldn’t really get much better than An Rinn in the heart of the beautiful Gaeltacht na nDéise, according to Ros na Rún actor, Elaine O’Hara. A proud Kilkenny woman by birth, she now finds herself living with her fiancé Cian in the beautiful Rinn Ó gCuanach, Co. Phort Láirge.
Elaine O’ Hara plays the devious Emma in TG4’s drama series Ros na Rún
‘Prior to March 2020, my life seemed to be spent on the road. Having spent years working as a primary school teacher, I now divide my time between acting and teaching. Weeks consist of filming in Galway, along with substitute teaching work in Kilkenny, Carlow or Waterford.
Elaine, although now living in the beautiful Rinn Ó gCuanach in the heart of Gaeltacht na nDéise, Co. Waterford, is a proud Kilkenny woman by birth. Never was that more in evidence than this year’s hurling semi-final clash where her ‘new home’ took on her ‘home home’ – needless to say, the Kilkenny flag was flying in earnest down in An Rinn that day! A Thomastown native, her love of hurling is deep rooted. Both sides of her family have strong hurling connections. Her father, Dick, earned 3 All-Ireland senior medals hurling for Kilkenny in the seventies and eighties. Her mother, Helena, from Mullinavat originally, is a grand-niece of the Doyle brothers of Mooncoin – Dick, Eddie and Mick – whose hurling exploits with Kilkenny earned them 18 All-Ireland medals collectively between them. While Elaine herself hasn’t played any G.A.A. in a long time, she loves nothing more than watching it! The televised matches during this pandemic were one of the big life-lines for so many people and brought so much joy into people’s homes at a time when they needed it the most.
So when the first lockdown hit, life became much less hectic. With Ros na Rún wrapped since the end of February and primary schools closed since March 12th, daily life changed pace completely. Cian, a physiotherapist, was also out of work so we had more time together than ever before. ‘If you still want to marry me after this lockdown, I know you really must love me!’ was a regular refrain in our house and luckily, it must be love as, despite having to reschedule our wedding due to COVID, it’s full steam ahead for our new date this summer!
Living in West Waterford means we have plenty of beautiful mountains and beaches nearby. When we were allowed to travel within our county, we did many hikes around the area; my favourite being our sun-rise hike to the top of Coumshingaun in the Comeragh Mountains. However, even when the 2 km restrictions came in, we were still spoiled for choice with beautiful walks and beaches around An Rinn.
Like many people, escapism was often the key to getting through the low days. It was often easier to immerse yourself in the lives of other people with alternative realities than deal with our own reality. My TV choices would depend on my mood on any given day… Normal People, The Queen’s Gambit, Schitt’s Creek, Sex Education, The Last Kingdom…the list is varied and endless!
Keeping my own acting muscles flexing was also good for the mind and soul. Becoming a different character in a different reality…what better escapism can you get than that?! The online casting network Fishpond started the ‘Fishpond Monologue Challenge’. A different monologue focusing on a different emotion is posted regularly and actors can submit self-tapes for each monologue. Once Ros na Rún wraps in the coming days, I’ll look forward to sinking my teeth back into these!
Elaine’s love of acting is also deep rooted. However, having first graced the stage as Eliza Doolittle in her 4th year musical My Fair Lady in St. Brigid’s College, Callan, she then didn’t tread the boards again for nearly ten years. However, she joined Kilkenny Musical Society for their 2010 production of Oliver! and was hooked thereafter! She has made lifelong friends and many happy memories of wonderful shows with K.M.S. such as Michael Collins, and The Pirates of Penzance to name but a few. She loved taking part in Steel Magnolias and On Golden Pond with Watergate Productions and spent many a happy night rehearsing for various one-act plays and productions such as The Elephant Man, The Web and A Seduction of Chaos with K.A.T.S.
The idea of possibly acting professionally came in 2016 when she got the opportunity to take part in the workshop of a new musical ‘Find Your Way Home’ under local director, Christine Scarry. This musical was performed in the Civic Theatre, Tallaght and later brought to Albany, Boston and New York. She loved every minute of it and it was this experience that inspired her to take a leap of faith and see where it takes her. She took a career-break from teaching, moved to Dublin and completed a three month acting course ‘The Applied Art of Acting’ with David Scott. She was lucky enough to audition for Ros na Rún shortly after and the rest, as they say, is history!
Cian and his family own ‘Sólás na Mara’ – a seaweed bathhouse and wellness centre here in An Rinn. In between lockdowns, Sólás na Mara was very busy so I often could be found getting the seaweed baths ready for clients or helping out in the coffee-dock. Not sure if my lattés and cappuccinos are quite up to scratch yet though… a bit more practice might be needed!
Our local community running group ‘Céim ar Chéim’ has also helped to keep the mind and body going during this pandemic. With COVID restrictions in place, we’ve now gone virtual! While I will never be a runner, the fact that I’m managing to run 5km – something I never thought I would be able to do – is one of the little silver linings of this pandemic.
It was so wonderful to start back filming on Ros na Rún in August. While life on set has been very different with all the COVID protocols, the camaraderie and banter between everyone remains the same. Everyone has worked so hard all season to keep each other safe and it’s a credit to all involved that we are now only days away from finishing a whole season of Ros na Rún in spite of a global pandemic. In this case, the saying ‘Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine’ feels very apt.’