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Ross White, James Martin, Tom Berkeley and Seamus O'Hara Alamy Stock Photo
Academy Awards

An Irish Goodbye has won an Oscar - and they sang Happy Birthday to its star on stage

Actor James Martin celebrated his birthday today.

NORTHERN IRISH FILM An Irish Goodbye won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in Los Angeles this morning. 

The short, which follows the reunion of estranged siblings Turlough and Lorcan after the untimely death of their mother, was directed by Tom Berkeley and Ross White.

The brothers’ reunion is made difficult as Turlough tries to navigate care arrangements for Lorcan, who has Down Syndrome. 

One of the frontrunners in the category ahead of the ceremony, the film resonated with viewers – and obviously Oscars voters – for its depiction of the brotherly relationship. 

Speaking on the Dolby Theatre stage, White said: ”Deary me, thank you so much to the Academy for this incredible, incredible honour. Thank you to our fellow nominees, all the nominees for your work.

It inspires us so very, very much.

“Thank you to everyone back home in Northern Ireland who helped us make this film. We wish we had the time to list you all here but you know who you are.

“There’s something very important we’d like to speak about as well,” he added, before handing over the mic to Berkeley. 

“This award is actually the second most important thing about today because it’s this man’s birthday,” Berkeley told the audience as he put his arm around actor James Martin’s shoulder.

“He’s out in Hollywood wearing a leopard-print suit jacket. We’d love to use the rest of our time up here to sing for James,” he said before starting a raucous round of ‘Happy Birthday to You’.

During the rendition, the cameras panned to Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan who looked delighted with proceedings, while Colin Farrell gave James a reciprocated thumbs up from his seat. 

In the interview room after leaving the stage, White and Berkeley were asked what it was like to have created the sweetest moment of the night.

“He’s the beating heart of this film. We wanted to make sure he had an extra special moment,” responded White. “It was amazing to have everyone singing for him in the Dolby Theatre… how ridiculous.”

Asked by The Journal’s Aoife Barry if the collaboration will resonate with people in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Britain, Berkeley smiled and said as the English part of the English-Irish duo, he would defer to White.

“I come from Northern Ireland,” White began. “Identity is a complex thing for us in Northern Ireland. Our peace is an adolescent peace, it’s a fragile peace always but we are so proud of the peace and everyone I know wants to ensure that is protected.

“Look, I think, our crew who came together to make this film were from the Republic of Ireland, from Britain, from Northern Ireland and we’re just so proud to have this collaborative way of making this film together.

“Hopefully there’s a bit of legacy there but we’re just really proud to be representing Northern Ireland and the message and the project that is Northern Ireland and what that means to people.”

Watch An Irish Goodbye on the RTÉ Player here

For more coverage of the Oscars, follow our liveblog here 

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