THE achievements of Barrowhouse man Seamus Malone have been honoured with a Made of Athy plaque.
A large crowd of friends, neighbours, family members and well-wishers gathered last Thursday evening outside Athy College, where Seamus was once a student, as part of a project that has honoured quite a few well-known faces in recent months, from Johnny Marr to Jack L.
“It was originally the music trail project but we’ve bent the rules a little bit tonight,” said Lucina Russell, Arts Officer with Kildare Co Council. “It’s not strictly a music trail project but certainly someone that we felt was worthy of Made of Athy recognition.”
“I’m not surprised you’ve been so successful, you come from probably one of the nicest families,” Cllr Aoife Breslin told the Barrowhouse man.
Seamus, son of Jim and Mary Malone, studied at Ballyfermot College and won a scholarship to Bristol University, and went on to work for Oscar-winning animation studio Aardman. His animation credits include high-profile projects such as 2000’s Chicken Run and Arthur Christmas (2011), while he directed a number of episodes of the Emmy and BAFTA-winning television series Shaun the Sheep, a Wallace and Gromit spin-off – Shane O’Sullivan and the Beautiful Noise Choir performed a fun song about that animated character on the night.
And, earlier this year, his work on the animated BBC/Netflix series Watership Down earned him an Emmy.
“If you haven’t watched it, it’s on Netflix and it is absolutely stunning,” said Athy College principal Richard Daly.
Mr Daly told Seamus that the school is extremely proud of him, adding that the writer, director and animator previously visited the school and gave a workshop on how some of the films were created. “He came back some seven or eight years ago at the time when he was in production of Arthur Christmas… it was absolutely enlightening,” he said.
Speaking to the Kildare Nationalist, his mother Mary said they feel very proud and that it was great to see so many neighbours, friends and local people there on the night.
“He was always fascinated with cartoons and how they were made,” she said of her son, noting that he was encouraged to keep up the animation when he came to Athy College. “When he was about 14 he entered, well one of his friends encouraged him to enter, a cartoon competition in Jo Maxi on RTÉ television and he actually came second in the country on that.”
“The real talent came from my side!” Jim added with a laugh.
Seamus took the opportunity to thank his parents – mentioning trips into Athy to get the bus in the morning when he began going to college – his sisters Ann and Maeve, as well as the people who turned up from the local area and further afield.
“I always thought this was a fantastic idea,” he said of the Made of Athy project. “I had no idea I was going to be involved in it at all.”
Seamus recalled his days as a student in Athy, particularly how he was encouraged by teachers and friends to draw caricatures of the vice-principal and principal, which wound up in the school magazine. It’s a time, he said, he often thinks of today when he’s working on scenes, scripts or films. “I think about characters from Athy and how would they say that, and how would they stand, and what would they do,” he said. “It’s always been a place of inspiration for me.
“The Made of Athy project is fantastic and I’m very honoured and proud to be part of Made of Athy… I’m going to be thinking about this for a long time. I’ve been to a lot of award shows and stuff around the world, but this one is going to be number one, top of the list.”