||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2010)|
Kirwan at the 2009 BAFTAs
24 October 1971
Churchtown, Dublin, Ireland
|Spouse(s)||Rupert Penry-Jones (m. 2007–present)|
Dervla Kirwan (24 October 1971) is an Irish television and stage actress who has had roles in British television shows which included Ballykissangel and Goodnight Sweetheart among others. She also appeared in the Doctor Who Christmas special episode, "The Next Doctor" and provided the voiceovers for the "This is not just food" television advertising campaign for UK retailer Marks & Spencer.
Kirwan was born in Churchtown, Dublin, Ireland. Her father, Peter Kirwan, was an insurance broker, and her mother, Maureen O'Driscoll, was a language teacher. She is the youngest of three daughters. She attended Loreto Beaufort in Rathfarnham, Dublin, a Catholic school for girls, until the age of 16, when she was asked to leave as her career as an actress started to progress. Kirwan completed secondary school at the now-defunct non-denominational school Sandymount High School in Dublin.
Kirwan's paternal great-grandfather was a Polish Jewish immigrant who had married Kirwan's paternal great-grandmother, a Catholic, in Ireland. Kirwan is a great-granddaughter of Margaret Collins-O'Driscoll, who was a sister of Michael Collins, one of the Irish leaders during the Irish War of Independence. Kirwan's maternal grandfather Finian O'Driscoll was Michael Collins's nephew.
Kirwan moved to London when she was sixteen when she was cast in a play at the Bush Theatre. She won acclaim in 1988 for her performance as the factory girl Linda in A Handful of Stars, the Bush Theatre premiere of the first play in Billy Roche's Wexford Trilogy. In 1992, again at the Bush, she starred in a revival of the complete trilogy.
She got her television break in the 1991 BBC Scotland production of A Time To Dance, adapted by Melvyn Bragg from his own novel, playing Bernadette Kennedy. In the same year, she also appeared in the play Water Music at the Cockpit Theatre, written by award-winning playwright Lyndon Morgans (singer-songwriter with the Welsh folk noir band Songdog). In 1992, she also starred in Hush by April De Angelis at the Royal Court Theatre, while January 1994 found her playing in Peter Hall's seasonal production of Georges Feydeau's farce An Absolute Turkey at the Globe Theatre
Kirwan briefly appeared in Casualty, and in the first three series of Goodnight Sweetheart alongside Nicholas Lyndhurst. In 1997, she sang with Dustin the Turkey on his cover of "Fairytale of New York" for his album Faith of Our Feathers.
For 23 episodes, from 1996–1998, she appeared in Ballykissangel in the role of Assumpta Fitzgerald. Assumpta is the landlady of BallyK's only pub, Fitzgeralds, and is no friend of the church – until Father Peter Clifford (Stephen Tompkinson) is posted to the village from his previous parish in Manchester. She also continued this role for a Comic Relief special of The Vicar of Dibley, and in a Father Ted special. Kirwan 's performance in Ballykissangel won her the National TV Award for Best Actress in 1996, and the Irish Post Award for Best Irish Entertainer in 1997. In 1998, she starred alongside Christopher Eccleston in the Michael Winterbottom film With Or Without You as Belfast girl Rosie Boyd.
In 1999, she appeared in another BBC production, a made for TV Christmas film called The Greatest Store in the World. She played the single mum of two girls who are made homeless a few days before Christmas. Kirwan co-starred with Brian Blessed and Peter Capaldi. In 2001, she starred as Emma Rose in a BBC series Hearts and Bones alongside Sarah Parish, Amanda Holden, Hugo Speer and Damian Lewis. The show ran for two series. She also starred in the Sky TV series The Bombmaker as a former IRA bomb maker. That year she also appeared in a stage production of Dangerous Corners by JB Priestley in Leeds alongside now husband Rupert Penry-Jones.
Kirwan starred in School for Seduction, a 2004 film which also starred Kelly Brook. She appeared in the BBC 1 crime drama series 55 Degrees North with Don Gilet, which aired in 2004. She returned for a second series in 2005. The series was shown in the US under the title The Night Detective. In 2005, she also appeared on the Lyttelton stage at the National Theatre in the role of Alice in Brian Friel's Aristocrats. In 2006, she played Bertha in Exiles at the National Theatre.
Kirwan appeared in the Irish film Ondine alongside Colin Farrell and Stephen Rea which was released in 2009. She played Maura, the alcoholic bitter ex-girlfriend of Colin's character Syracuse. Kirwan won the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Film at the 2010 Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTAs) for her role in Ondine.
Kirwan also appeared in the four-part BBC drama The Silence in 2010. She played the role of the warm-hearted aunt of a young deaf girl who witnessed a murder. The Silence aired in July 2010. For her role as Maggie, Kirwan won the Dagger for Best Supporting Actress at the 2010 Crime Thriller Awards.
Kirwan has also been the subject of an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? in which she found out more about her Irish and distant Jewish descent. Her great uncle was the Irish nationalist leader, Michael Collins. It was first shown on 2 August 2010.
From April to May 2012, Kirwan appeared on stage at the Chichester Festival Theatre in a Jeremy Herrin production of Uncle Vanya. Kirwan played Sonya alongside an exceptional cast which included Roger Allam (as Vanya), Timothy West and Lara Pulver. The play received warm reviews and response to Kirwan's performance was generally positive.
In April 2013, Kirwan was cast as Valerie in Josie Rourke's revival of The Weir by Conor McPherson at the Donmar Warehouse. Kirwan appeared alongside Brian Cox, Ardal O'Hanlon, Risteard Cooper and Peter McDonald. Reviews for The Weir have been excellent with 4* and 5* ratings by top critics.
Kirwan is married to actor Rupert Penry-Jones, with whom she has two children, Florence and Peter. She met him in 2001 while appearing in Dangerous Corner and they married in 2007 after a three-year engagement. She had been engaged to her co-star in Ballykissangel, Stephen Tompkinson in 1998.
She and Penry-Jones both appeared in Casanova in 2005, although they did not share any scenes. They had worked on stage together in 2001 in a West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, production of J B Priestley's Dangerous Corner, when he played Robert Caplan to her Olwen Peel. In November, the production transferred to the Garrick Theatre for a successful four-month West End season.
- Theatre Record and its annual Indexes
- Jones, Alice (31 May 2007). "Dervla Kirwan: The actress is breaking hearts as a two-timing temptress in Pinter's Betrayal". The Independent (London). Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- "Cybermen invade Newport". South Wales Argus. 11 April 2008. Retrieved 11 February 2008.
- "Step into the Tardis for Children in Need". BBC Press Office. Retrieved 23 September 2008.
- The Silence – BBC web site
- Blackout – BBC media web site