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The Academic pay touching tribute to Dolores O’Riordan at the Oscar Wilde party

The US-Ireland Alliance celebrated the 13th Annual Oscar Wilde Awards tonight at Bad Robot in Santa Monica. Emceed by J.J. Abrams, the evening’s honorees were Barry Keoghan, Mark Hamill, Paula Malcomson, and Catherine O’Hara. Previous honorees, Colin Farrell and Martin Short, joined Abrams in presenting.

The Academic took a break from their tour of America to play at the prestigious party. We spoke to them on the red carpet ahead of the event about which they were “really excited”.

They included the song Linger in their set, as a touching tribute to Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer of the Cranberries who passed away two months ago.


Abrams kicked off the night by doing a bit with comedienne Kathy Griffin, who he brought on stage to read his remarks. Griffin read, “In a year where our society is – I dearly hope — finally acknowledging the necessity of true and measurable equality for women,” Kathy then interjected – “that’s this year?” to which J.J. replied, “Yes that’s this year.” She continued “I’m both proud and grateful to say that the US-Ireland Alliance has always been led by women.”

Credit: Adriana M. Barraza/

JJ went on to thank the women involved in the organization and the event, including his wife, Katie McGrath, “for first suggesting that we host this “off the chain” event here at Bad Robot. And thank you, most of all to Trina Vargo”, the founder of the US-Ireland Alliance and the Oscar Wilde Awards.

Previous Oscar Wilde Award recipient, Colin Farrell, presented Barry Keoghan with the Wilde Card Award, presented to a promising up-and-coming actor. Keoghan recently starred with Farrell in The Killing of a Scared Deer. Farrell mentioned the many films Keoghan has made in such a short period of time, including Dunkirk, in which, “he played such a pivotal role that, for me, was the heart and soul of the film.” Keoghan made the last flight out of Ireland before Storm Emma to accept his award.

Pictures: G. McDonnell / VIPIRELAND.COM

In presenting Paula Malcomson with her award, Abrams spoke of her incredible career and said, “Paula was brilliant as Abby through 5 years of Ray Donovan, and we were sad to see her character die this season. If you haven’t yet watched Ray Donovan, don’t get too attached to the character named Abby.”

In accepting, Malcomson thanked Vargo for her role in the Northern Ireland peace process. She noted that the accomplishment of the Good Friday Agreement, 20 years ago, was “a Sisyphean task,” but added that “the country is utterly changed. There’s hope now, there is possibility, there is Game of Thrones. People are able to work together on films, on TV shows, without the clanging of those sectarian bells of the past. When I left Belfast, it was a very different place, bleaker, darker in 1990. I had hightailed it to New York City, I had 27 pounds in my pocket, that I had borrowed from my granny, at a favorable interest rate. This country took in an 18-year old girl, it wrapped its arms around her, and handed her a better life. I’ve been able to do things that I never thought were possible. I’ve been able to live the American dream. So I only hope that the American dream is available for those who reach out and grab it the way I did. And I’m not so sure right now.”

Credit: Adriana M. Barraza/

In introducing Mark Hamill, Abrams joked that he will always be best known for his role as Kent Murray in General Hospital and said, “It was between shots, and there we were atop this glorious island in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with Mark, in costume. I started playing John Williams’ iconic Binary Sunset cue from Star Wars Episode Four on my phone. It was incredibly emotional. All any of us could think was, I can’t believe I get to be here. With Kent Murray.” On a serious note, Abrams said it was, “a joy to work with, it was a dream … directing an idol.”

Credit: Adriana M. Barraza/

In accepting, Hamill mentioned being at the event a few years ago, when his dear friend, Carrie Fisher was honored. He also spoke of his Irish father and how he learned much about Ireland from a rich legacy of films about Ireland. He talked about filming Star Wars in Ireland and how The Force Awakens will alone mean billions for the Irish economy, “not to mention encouraging countless Star Wars nerds to make it a go-to destination.”
The very funny Martin Short, joked, “I actually won this last year, so suck on that Daniel Day Lewis.” In introducing/roasting his friend, Catherine O’Hara, Short said, “I am proud to call Catherine O’Hara my friend and it’s not because she’s successful or rich, it’s because she’s both. In fact, of all the people in show business I truly admire, Catherine is very close to being one of them. Catherine, you deserve this award my love, and not just because you campaigned the hardest to get it. Catherine O’Hara has been one of the greatest comedic influences in my life. You are a breathtakingly brilliant, staggering original who has, and continues to, inspire.”

O’Hara joked that the Irish, “mock us for wandering through your graveyards, searching for someone, anyone, with our last names.” She spoke eloquently of the importance of her Irish heritage, and the country, saying, “who doesn’t want to be associated with people known for their deep and undying love of the land, the letter, romance, family, laughter — at themselves, almost as much as at others — music and any lovely thing that brings a tear to the eye. A land of passionately empathetic poets, composers, politicians, filmmakers, revolutionaries and first responders. All the great qualities we strive for in America, we take for granted in the Irish.”

Other previous honorees present included Lionsgate Vice Chairman, Michael Burns, Sarah Bolger, and CAA agent and US-Ireland Alliance Advisory Board member, Hylda Queally.

Credit: Adriana M. Barraza/

Guests at the popular, casual party included Ava DuVernay, Andy Serkis, Jason O’Mara, Andrea Martin, Sean Hayes, Victoria Smurfit, Dana Delany, Kathy Griffin, Aisling Bea, Simon Quarterman, Karl Urban, Rick Famuyiwa, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jenn Murray, Nora-Jane Noone, Melanie Lynskey, Jason Ritter, Nick Kelly, Jurnee Smollet, Nick Lee, Sonya Macari and Dash Mihok.

Many members of the US-Ireland Alliance’s Cultúr Club attended. The invite-only club includes Irish and Irish-Americans in the entertainment business who meet throughout the year. The always eclectic guest list included Elon Musk; the CEO of LA Opera, Christopher Koelsch; Web Summit founder, Paddy Cosgrave; architect Paul McClean, and several recipients of the Alliance’s George J. Mitchell Scholarship program. Poet David Whyte read his poems ‘The Bell and the Blackbird’ and ‘Just beyond Yourself.’

Credit: Adriana M. Barraza/

Kensington Caterers served up Irish fare with a contemporary twist, Teeling Whiskey, Guinness, Kerrygold Irish Cream, Pau Maui Vodka and Fid Street Hawaiian Gin. The honorees were presented with a Hawke + Axel award — a hand blown eternal flame with a green ribbon running through it.

We chatted to the stars on the red carpet before the event.

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