On the anniversary of his 80th birthday, the Ulster History Circle will commemorate Sean Hollywood (1943-1998) – teacher, actor and director, civil rights leader, hurler, footballer and gael, on Tuesday, December 12 at St. Colman’s College in Newry.
The ceremony will commence at 11.30am and the blue plaque will be unveiled by Sean Hollywood’s sisters.
Anthony Gerard Sean was born on Sunday, December 12, 1943 in Nurse Murphy’s Nursing Home in Mill Street, Newry.
He was the eldest of six children – Monica, Bronagh, Patricia, Rita and the late Thomas, born to Hugh Hollywood, a merchant seaman and his wife, Mary Keeley.
The family lived in Upper Chapel Street before moving to St. Colman’s Park, off Hill Street.
As a child, Sean’s education began in the Abbey Primary School-St. Colman’s in Courtney Hill, Newry. His education continued at the Abbey Grammar School before finally graduating from Queen’s University, Belfast.
During his time at Queen’s, at weekends Sean could be found back home in Newry playing for the Newry Shamrocks (later manager) or acting with the Newpoint Players. His love of sport and the theatre never waned during his short life.
Sean also played football in the Carnbane League and later played hurling at County and Provincial level for Clan Uladh and County Down.
In 1967, Sean Hollywood entered St. Colman’s College, Newry as a teacher of English and Drama and was to become Head of Department. It was during this time that he became involved in the Civil Rights movement.
In 1972 he was a leading organiser along with many other local activists, in the Newry march of 50,000 people. The march passed off peacefully.
A founding member of the SDLP in 1973, Sean was elected as a councillor for Newry and Mourne but after a year, decided to step down and focus his career on teaching, sport and drama.
This he did, and applied his talents to St.Colman’s, the Newpoint Players and Newry Shamrocks GAC.
He was a great motivator and excelled in everything he did. He was an excellent academic, and despite his early death at the age of 54, his name is still highly respected by the many students that he taught over the years at St. Colman’s.
Sean’s talents as an actor and director of the Newpoint Players knew no bounds. Award after award came back to Newry and Sean Hollywood was responsible for launching the acting careers of many young men and women who are household names today.
Sean’s sudden death on Sunday, July 19, 1998 came as a shock and the sadness at his passing was felt across the island of Ireland. His talent was such that he could have lived and worked anywhere in the world but his love was for his native town and the people of Newry.
Chris Spurr, Chairman of the Ulster History Circle commented: “Sean Hollywood was an inspiration to many throughout his life, as a teacher, a civil rights leader, an actor and director with the Newpoint Players, and as a GAA player and manager.
“The Ulster History Circle often commemorates those who found fame far away, but this blue plaque remembers someone who is a true local hero. The Circle is particularly grateful to the Modern Fireplace Company for their financial support, and to the Newry Maritime Association and St. Colman’s College for their kind assistance.”
In the bi-centennial year of St. Colman’s College at Violet Hill (1823-2023), Cormac McKinney, Principal added: “St. Colman’s College is very pleased to have been chosen as the location for a commemorative Ulster History Circle blue plaque to the late Sean Hollywood as nominated by Newry Maritime Association.
“Sean was an inspiring teacher to the students of the College for 31 years, and we are delighted that his outstanding contribution to education, civil rights, the arts, as a sportsman and Gael are being recognised in such a significant way.
“We look forward to welcoming the large number of people from Newry, Mourne and beyond who will be in attendance to remember Sean with fondness and good humour – a true Newry man and inspiration.”
Sean Hollywood – Happy 80th Birthday – his name lives on and he is truly ‘Newry’s Man of the Century’. Sean will never be forgotten.