Suits You

October 23, 2013


Following in the genetic footsteps of the McNally clan requires some pretty big shoes to walk in. Little did Aonghus (son of Aonghus, son of Ray) realise he would also have to pull on the suit as well. “They had me in for a costume fitting for The House,” he tells me, referring to the Tom Murphy play that opens at The Abbey this Wednesday. “And there was this one suit that just looked the business. And when I tried it on, whose name was on the inside but my Granddad’s (Ray, Oscar nominated and much venerated legend of stage and screen). It was like that moment in Harry Potter, where the wand chooses the wizard.”

This is his first appearance on the Abbey Stage in four years, playing Jimmy, in Murphy’s tale of visiting imigrants and their relationships, with those they left behind and the house of the title. “The idea is that the play, and the house itself, is a microcosm, a veritable little Ireland.” And it’s not that big a leap to say that McNally is returning to the family home himself. “My grandparents met on the Abbey stage. My folks met on the Abbey stage.” His wife panics when he gets cast on the Abbey stage? “She keeps an eye out,” he laughs, “but it is a place that I have an affinity for, a love for and that I am a big fan of.”

So big in fact, he dropped out of a planned Glaswegian engagement for his show Fight Night, that was written specifically for him by Gavin Kostick based loosely on his lineage, so he could take on this part. “I’m a third generation actor, my character was a third generation boxer. I’m a new dad, he’s a new dad. But it’s not as autobiographical as people think.”

Still, it must have been hard for him to see his replacement, Michael Sheehan, pulling on his gloves? “The one thing it taught me was never give your part to a person younger, more talented and better looking than yourself,” he laughs. “ He had to give up competing at the UK Mixed Martial Arts Championships for the privelage. And was rewarded with a sell out run and rave reviews. I wouldn’t be suprised if we saw Michael Sheehan playing Dan Jnr. again sometime in the near future.”

Originally published in the Sunday Independent in June 2012

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