Seánie Barron, Oscar nominated

An internationally acclaimed short film self-featuring an exceptionally talented wood artist from Askeaton has been longlisted for the 2022 Academy Awards, better known as The Oscars.
‘Now, Only in Askeaton: Seánie Barron,’ recently won the Short Audience Award for Best Short Film at The Cork International Film Festival, and at the weekend it was confirmed that next-up is a chance of worldwide recognition for one of the town’s most famous characters at the most prestigious and significant awards of the entertainment industry.
Seánie’s unique work, much of which is associated with various types of walking sticks, was first widely exhibited at the Douglas Hyde Gallery in Dublin six years ago, and since at many other similar events, both at home and abroad.
Commissioned by Askeaton Contemporary Arts’ Artistic Director Michelle Hourigan, the now winning documentary was the work of noted filmmaker Michael Holly.
Previously on his love of making sticks, Seánie recalled it was a habit he acquired while herding cattle to market as a boy, when he would whittle down a stick to help him along.
“I’ve been at it for as long as I can remember, making sticks and selling them down the town,” he said. “You’d always get the old price of a pint. ’Tis very handy when things would be slack. I worked as a farm labourer when I was a gasún, and often a fellow would say, ‘Is there any ash sticks up above in those fields?’ and I just got into the habit then of making them.”
Michael’s film was shot around Askeaton during the Summer, and features informative, and sometimes hilarious, insights into the gifted sculptor of amazing wooden pieces, all of which – the likes of hazel, fig, blackthorn, furze, elm, ash, and most appropriately now holly – are sourced locally.
“I’d always keep an eye out. Every place. Whenever I’m walking the roads, I’d be watching, and when I’m out doing a bit of old hunting, you know, hunting mink, you’d find things. I’m a hunting man, all my life. All on foot for us. We’d hunt down by the river and when you’ve finished and you’re sweating, you dive into the water and enjoy your swim inside in the river. That’s what’s done here. Only in Askeaton.”
He added: “You’ll find everything in a stick; character above all. Some nice trait, and a good solid staff. First, I stare at it and watch it and then the shape will come to me, and I see how I can work it into something.”
Oscar nominations voting begins in late January, and will end soon afterwards on February 1st, with the nominations’ announce ment for the 94th Oscars to be revealed on February 8th.
The ceremony itself takes place in Hollywood on Sunday, March 27th.
An interesting Academy Awards connection with Askeaton is that the father (Patrick Sarsfield Nash) of twice-nominated Holly wood character actor James Patrick Carroll Nash (known professionally as J Carrol Naish, 1896-1973) emigrated from Ballycullen House in the late 1800s. The actor’s mother, Catherine Moran, hailed from Foynes.