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Around Ireland Frank McCourt’s biggest fan

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Patrick Markey

An Irish-American woman spent almost $20,000 during a six-week stay in Dublin — all for a walk-on part as an extra in the filming of the best-selling book "Angela’s Ashes."

The Examiner newspaper reports that Maureen Kelly-Quill from Lancaster, Mass., was captivated by Frank McCourt’s Pulitzer prize-winning story. Her grandparents were Kellys who emigrated from Louisburgh, Co. Mayo.

"After the book was published, I talked about it for a year and I wrote to Frank McCourt. It is one of the biggest obsessions I have ever had," Kelly-Quill said.

When she heard director Alan Parker was filming it in Ireland, she was determined to come. She arrived in Ireland on Oct. 26. "In the beginning I just came to watch the filming, but then I got a little greedy," she said.

Kelly-Quill finally got a walk-on part for scenes filmed at Pearse Street station in Dublin, but then she learned they could end up on the cutting room floor. With the chance of getting another scene, she postponed her return home. Last week she made it onto the set again and hopes she has sealed her chance for a big screen appearance.

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Kelly-Quill estimates she has spent about $20,000 on flights and accommodation. "This is not about money," she said. "My very generous husband provided this and to him I am very grateful."

She plans to donate her fee as an extra to the St. Vincent de Paul charity for the poor in Limerick. Although she was determined to get home for Christmas, and she is certain that show biz is not really for her, Kelly Quill said: "The other day, someone on the set said to me, ‘Maureen, will you come back to Dublin?’ I said if they want me to do the sequel I will be on the next flight."

Moonshine madness

It’s time to break out those seasonal spirits again — but not if they’re brewed out in you backyard.

In a double assault on the moonshine trade, a leading psychiatrist has issued a warning about the dangers of imbibing illicit alcohol, just as local County Galway gardai made their first pre-Christmas crackdown on poitin makers, reports the Sunday Tribune.

The seizure, in Lettermore, nabbed a whole distillery, and nine gallons of completed plonk, although no arrests were made in the raid. Local superintendent Jim Sugure said last year 13 similar seizures were made and this year searches were being stepped up in Connemara, the traditional heartland of the moonshine business.

While good-quality hooch can fetch about £8 a pint, Dr. Kieran Power has issued a stern warning about the brew, stating that alcohol content has risen recently to around 87 percent in some samples. That’s enough to kill the drinker after two glasses. Two people have died from poitin overdoses in the West of Ireland.

"We see people who have drunk it with severe behavioral disturbances," the doctor said.

"People can become fairly paranoid and it does contribute to both suicidal and homicidal tendencies," Power said.

Northern piety

Young Catholics in Northern Ireland are more religious than their counterparts in the Republic, according to a new survey.

The Belfast telegraph reports that the study, carried out for the Bishops’ Council for Research and Development, found that 60 percent of 15- to 24-year-olds in the province go to Mass every Sunday, compared with 50 percent in the south.

Overall Mass attendance is greater south of the border, where weekly attendance is 64 percent compared to 57 percent in the North. As people grow older in Northern Ireland they are less likely to go to church on a regular basis.

The survey also found that a substantial number of those attending Mass more frequently were doing so to pray for peace in the wake of the Good Friday peace agreement.

Catholics in the North go to Confession more often than in the South. In Northern Ireland, 19 percent go to Confession once a month, compared with 11 percent in the south.

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