Limerick actress Frances Healy discusses career beginnings, running an acting school

In this week’s Limerick Treasures podcast, Limerick Voice presenter, Katie Flannery chatted with the multifaceted Limerick actress Frances Healy about her experience in the acting industry, the #MeToo movement and COVID-19.

The Limerick actress, comedian, radio personality, tv presenter and voiceover actress is best known for her roles as Claire Whelan in Fair City and Sister Jude in the Magdalene Sisters.

Despite having an interest in acting as a child, Healy joined the working force as a hairdresser in order to support her daughter.

It wasn’t until Healy joined the theatre group ‘Warts and All’ in London, that she decided acting was a career she wanted to pursue.

“I decided I’d go back to college and get myself educated so that what I did. I went for Trinity and I didn’t have a leaving cert so I was really going to be blagging it so I did blag it and I did get in”, said Healy.

However, Healy’s journey to fame was far from smooth.

Her time at Trinity began on the wrong foot with the state refusing to give her funding despite her single marital status.

After some negotiating with a local politician, the funding was secured and Healy was off to start her career in acting.

In her own words, “Through the jigs and the reels, I got in and that sent me on my way”.

Her entrance to comedy came following a conversation she had with a group of comedians in a bar in Glasgow where she expressed an interest in doing stand-up.

“About 3 weeks later one of the comedians came up to me and said listen there’s a beginner competition coming up and I think you should do it and it was one of those moments where you go ugh I’ve to do it now because if I don’t I’ll regret it”.

“I got on stage and they loved it – I actually got an encore”, she recalls.

Healy describes her role as Sister Jude in the movie, Magdalene Sisters as one of the most significant roles she has played, for her personally.

“I had my daughter in one of the Good Sheppard Convents in County Meath so I had been through that system. So when I read the script for the Magdalene Sisters I knew I had to be a part of it”

“These women didn’t have a choice, at least it was the 80s I was able to keep my daughter”, says Healy.

She followed on by saying, “I always felt very honoured to be a part of that”.

Healey set up the acting school “Acting Up In Limerick” in 2005.

One particular event the school hosted comes to mind for Healy; a workshop she held for women in Direct Provision.

“These women in Direct Provision that I worked with; some of them were journalists that had to leave their countries, feminists, educators. They were raped, husbands killed. They had to escape their country because they were seen to be on the left, writing about certain things. It’s an honour to be in a room with people like that”.

The empowerment of women is a subject close to Healy’s heart with her adding in:

“Thank God for those women who exposed Harvey Weinstein because really since that #MeToo Movement, things have changed fantastically. Language has changed, the way men would have viewed us; things that can’t be said anymore. Pay has changed”.

You can listen to the full interview with Frances Healey here:

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