Family Matters with Domhnall Gleeson

Pic: VIPIreland

We caught up with Domhnall Gleeson to chat about his family and his pride of being Irish.

Domhnall, you followed into your father’s footsteps into acting, is there a stand-out piece of advice Brendan has given you?

‘If nobody else is hiring, you need to make stuff yourself.’ That was really important and very, very true, it turned out. I made short films when I came out of college. Weirdly, one of those short films ended up helping me to get a job.

When it comes to your mam, what’s your favourite memory together?

Well, thankfully, I’m lucky enough to still be creating memories with my mam. She is an amazing woman. I remember years ago coming back from the Gaeltacht and I had a rough time. I remember being really homesick so coming back and just seeing my mam made me happy. I still get that same feeling every time I come home after being away now. When I work, there’s a lot of travel involved. I spend a couple of weeks in LAor a couple of weeks in New York and I always enjoy those places, but Ireland will always be home. Everything I’ve known has always been concentrated in Dublin; knowing my mam and dad are just down the road is special, and living away would be hard.

You obviously have your brothers as well…

Yeah, yeah. I’ve got three brothers and one of them is an actor, a fantastic actor. All boys!

What was it like growing up with three brothers?

Well, I’m the eldest and it was amazing. We were all sort of on top of each other growing up and the gap is three years from me to Fergus and then two years to Brian and a year and a half to Rory so there’s six years between me and Rory. We’re tight-knit and I’m very, very close to my brothers. I love them to pieces! I think they’re amazing men, really talented and we’re very good friends.

Pic: Conor McCabe Photography

What has been your proudest moment?

My proudest moment would be the reason we’re here today, chatting about the hospice. We looked after my grandparents before they were in the hospice and even when they were there, we tried our best to go and show them that they were loved. My mother and father were amazing. My mother stayed at home looking after her own parents and just took care of a lot. I saw, through her and my dad, the value of that and I’m really proud that I was able to help look after my grandparents. I could’ve done more but I’m still proud of myself.

What is your favourite memory with your grandparents?

When I think about Grandad, I think of his fingers templed together, touching delicately off each other and rolling a Malteser around in his mouth as he thought of something funny to say. He had a lot of good jokes, a lot of good stories, you know, so my favourite memory of Grandad Gleeson is him making me laugh. As for my Grandma Gleeson, I remember the feel of her glasses against my face when I would hug her goodnight. We used to stay at their place sometimes just to visit and then at a certain point, to help look after them. I think grandma lost some weight towards the end and became quite small, and I noticed when I’d give her a hug. She was full of love. Of course, I have two other grandparents who didn’t pass away in hospice, who I loved just as much.

Earlier we asked what advice your dad has given you, but if you could go back to when you were young, what advice would you give yourself?

I’m not sure. I think I’ve become a lot less judgemental over the years. I was a good kid and I behaved well and all the rest of it, but I’d tell myself to just not assume you know what everything is – but I would’ve ignored that advice because that’s only something I could’ve learned from experience! But yeah, just to maintain as much curiosity as possible and not to worry too much about being good.

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