First-time actor Philip Dolan from Knockcroghery features in John McGahern's 'That They May Face the Rising Sun' directed by Pat Collins.

First-time actor Philip to feature on the silver screen at local cinemas

Fresh from IFTA success at the weekend where it won Best Irish film, locals will get a chance to see the film version of John McGahern's 'That They May Face the Rising Sun' on Thursday in two local cinemas.

First-time actor Philip Dolan from Knockcroghery is set to light up the silver screen this Thursday in the highly-rated film version of John McGahern's 'That They May Face the Rising Sun' in Ballinasloe and Roscommon.

With absolutely no acting experience, the Knockcroghery resident was cast as Jamesie, a pivotal character, completely by chance after director Pat Collins heard him tell a story about his childhood in Glanglevin in west Cavan at a South Roscommon Singers session back in 2022.

Philip, a massive McGahern fan, has been “pinching himself” ever since and previously described the rehearsals in Leenane, and filming in Connemara in the summer of that year as “the best time of my life”.

Since then, he's enjoyed premieres in London and at the Dublin International Film Festival, along with a special screening in IFI for the cast and crew.

This Thursday, April 25, Philip, along with other locals will get their chance to the see the final product in the Omniplex in Ballinasloe at 7.40pm, and in the Omniplex, Roscommon at 8pm.

Set in rural Ireland of the late 1970s/1980s, 'That They May Face the Rising Sun' is McGahern's final novel and it follows the story of Joe (Barry Ward) and artist Kate (Anna Bederke), who have returned from London to live and work in a small close-knit community near where Joe grew up.

It’s the drama of a year in their lives and of the memorable characters in the countryside living in the shadow of the lake through the seasons.

Even though it is set in the recent past, Philip, who plays Jamesie a kindhearted gossip and advisor to the couple, said rural life has changed so much in just a few short decades.

“The difference in life from then to now is unbelievable. It's totally different and I think what Pat or John McGahern were trying to show us is this sort of quiet life around the lake where not a lot happens but yet everything happens,” he told the Westmeath Independent last month.

Philip Dolan in a scene from the movie with co-star Barry Ward.

Despite being an acting novice, Philip said he wasn't fazed by it because he knew, and had come across many of the characters depicted in the movie.

“I didn't even bother to act. I based Jamesie on old characters I grew up with in Glangevlin, not too far from where the book is set,” or the characters who visited the family when they moved to Knockcroghery.

Philip said he grew in confidence as the filming progressed, heaping praise on the director Pat Collins and his co-stars like Barry Ward, the main character who he shares most of his scenes with.

“He (Barry) got into the habit of giving me a smile or a thumbs up (during a scene). That meant an awful lot to me to get his approval,” explained Philip, who actually opens the film with that 'hello, hello, hello' greeting so familiar in rural Ireland. An old character, he has the habit of telling people who they are and where they are, he laughed.

Philip lives with his wife Marina in the old Station House in Knockcroghery village, and they have three grown up children – Petra, Shauna and Killian.