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Moone Boy star balances fame and school

Moone boy
Moorehall’s Ian O’Reilly is pictured with Chris O’Dowd at the media launch of Sky One’s new series, Moone Boy. Pic: Sky TV

Moone Boy star balances film fame and post-primary schooling

Ciara Galvin

Around this time of year, most 12 or 13 year-olds are coming to grips with starting secondary school – new people, bigger classes and longer days. This too is the case for Ian O’Reilly from Moorehall, who started first year in Ballinrobe Community School last week. But school is not the only thing on this boy’s mind.
Ian is also busy shooting the second series of Sky One’s Moone Boy, in which he stars as the character Padraic. The first series of the sitcom, devised by ‘Bridesmaids’ and ‘The IT Crowd’ star Chris O’Dowd, was filmed for the most part on site in O’Dowd’s native Boyle, Co Roscommon.
Speaking to The Mayo News after his first day of secondary school, Ian seemed ever the professional. He described the day as ‘grand’.
Asked if any of his new classmates knew of his imminent fame, the grounded student said, “A few of them know, not all of them. They think it’s great.”
With filming for the first series spanning seven weeks last January, Ian explained that he was well capable of creating a balanced work/school schedule. “I missed a bit of school while filming, but not too much. It was workable and I caught up easily.”
Ian has been working closely with funny-man Johnny Vegas, who plays the part of Padraic’s imaginary friend Crunchie ‘Danger’ Haystacks.
So what is Vegas like to workwith? “He’s great, really nice. You’d expect him to have a big ego, but he doesn’t. He always talks to me on set, and he’s really down to earth.”
And what about the boss man and creator of the sitcom? “Chris is really nice too. I couldn’t work with better people. They’re all really nice.”
The cast of Moone Boy, which tells the semi-serious story of O’Dowd’s childhood, is made up of  boys from the Connacht area. O’Dowd’s 12-year-old self is played by Leitrim teen David Rawle, whom Ian has kept in contact with on and off the set. “It’s good to have people my own age around while filming. I kept in touch with David and got on with him most.”
The debut screening of the first two episodes for the cast and their families took place in August at Lough Key Forest Park in Boyle. “The first screening was exciting,” Ian said. “It was the first time we saw it all put together with the bits done properly, and it was great to see everyone.”
The second series has already been commissioned by Sky. Ian has been filming since mid-August, but he says ‘hopefully’ he won’t miss too much school.
Ian’s supportive mother Katie is confident that her son is more than capable of the challenge. “It will be a bit more difficult with secondary school, as he’ll be away and back, but he’ll cope.”
Katie revealed that the level of cooperation from Ian’s national school and new secondary school  has been ‘brilliant’. “We explained the situation, and both schools were very accommodating. It’s such a good opportunity, he couldn’t miss out on it.”

Moone Boy premieres on Sky One on Friday, September 14, at 9.30pm.