On a day when she was nominated for a prestigious Academy Award, KillarneyToday.com looks back on the extraordinary early career of gifted Killarney star Jessie Buckley who has come such a long way since she sat in a crib in a town centre shopping mall and later graced the stage with the local musical society
She now takes her deserved place alongside the great stage and screen stars of the modern era but a snapshot shared on social media by her proud dad, Tim, a few short years ago, shows that Oscar nominated Jessie Buckley always had star appeal.
Her very first public appearance in a lead role may well have been far removed from the glitz and glamour of the movie set but there was still no shortage of tinsel and stars.
Accompanied by her young brother Killian, Jessie first took centre stage in front of the cameras for a photo-shoot at a feature Christmas crib which was on public display in the Innisfallen Shopping Mall in Killarney.
Little did festive season shoppers know then that the angelic little local girl, with her hands joined in prayer and a lovely smile illuminating her face, would grow up to become a household name in the world of film and entertainment, following a string of simply superb performances that has set her apart.
Even before today’s Academy Award nomination, Jessie was already established as one of the great talents and, from a very young age, it was always clear to those that knew her best that she was destined for the limelight.
Excelling in speech and drama in school, – she attended Ursuline Secondary School in Thurles – Jessie was one of the leading lights in the Killarney Musical Society and she made her stage debut when she was part of the children’s chorus for Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat in the Áras Phádraig.
One of a family of five and the daughter of gifted poet Tim Buckley, a member of the management team in Parknasilla Hotel, and highly accomplished harpist and vocal coach Marina Cassidy, Jessie went on to clinch an AIMS Best Actress award following a fabulous performance in Carousel.
Such was her talent and incredible stage presence, even at that juncture, she was being singled out by media commentators and friends as one to watch.
Mayor of Killarney, Cllr Marie Moloney, who was very friendly with Jessie in their years together in the musical society, described her Oscar nomination as an exceptional achievement and she said the popular young actress – now aged 32 – is truly the pride of Killarney.
“I have known Jessie and her family for many years and this is very well deserved for a young woman who has excelled in the acting profession.
“I am sure that everyone in Killarney and Kerry will be behind her and supporting her when the Oscars winners are announced,” said the mayor.
“This is tremendous news for the Buckley family and indeed for the people of Killarney.
“We are so proud of Jessie and fingers crossed for the announcements at the end of March,” she added.
In a statement issued this evening to KillarneyToday.com, a thrilled Jessie declared: “I am in complete shock. The Lost Daughter is so special to me. To be recognised for anything connected to it is just a wild dream come true”.
She added: “And to gorgeous Olivia Colman and our leader and legend Maggie Gyllenhaal, I’m so lucky to share this ride with you incredible women. Thank you”.
During her fledging career, Jessie was the star of the TV talent search show, I’d Do Anything, in which she captured hearts in her public and prolonged audition for the part of Nancy in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End version of the hit musical.
The gifted young Killarney woman later signed up to the same London agency that managed Hollywood stars Keira Knightly and Oscar winner Kate Winslet and she starred as Anne Egerman in a revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical, A Little Night Music, at the Garrick Theatre in the West End.
After furthering her studies in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Jessie’s career progressed, at a remarkable pace, with a number of gripping television and stage performances, including roles in War and Peace, The Woman in White and Taboo, alongside Tom Hardy.
Having made her film debut in the role of a troubled Moll in Michael Pearce’s thriller Beast (2017), Jessie landed plum roles in Wild Rose, Chernobyl, I’m Thinking of Ending Things and Judy – a biopic chronicling Judy Garland’s life and times – and she soon became widely acknowledged as one of the most gifted actresses of her generation.
Her star appeal was recognised when she won the Best Actress Award for her brilliant performance in Wild Rose and the Best Supporting Actress for Drama accolade for her role in Chernobyl at the 2020 Irish Film and Television Awards.
The Lost Daughter has now earned Jessie Buckley a career changing Oscar nomination and her Best Supporting Actress category recognition is no more than she deserves for her gripping performance in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s psychological thriller, based on a novel by Elena Ferrante.
Jessie stars alongside Oscar winner Olivia Coleman, Dakota Johnson, Ed Harris and Paul Mescall and it tells the story of a woman named Lada (Olivia Coleman) who is alone on a seaside vacation when she becomes consumed with a young mother and daughter as she watches them on the beach.
An impulsive act shocks her into the strange and ominous world of her own mind, where she is forced to face the unconventional choices she made as a young mother – with Jessie playing the younger Lada – and their consequences.
In an interview on the Ray D’arcy Show on RTÉ Radio this Tuesday afternoon, Jessie’s parents, Marina and Tim, told of their joy and the great sense of pride they felt on hearing that their daughter was Oscar nominated.
“We are lucky in that we have five great kids and each of them do their own thing. Each of them fall down and we pick them up again and wind them up and send them off,” Tim said.
He said everybody encounters bumps on the road during their careers and their lives and he and Marina are Jessie’s safety net in that regard.
Asked if he would be attending the glittering Oscars ceremony on March 27, Tim quipped that when Jessie had been previously nominated for a BAFTA, he was asked if he would attend the awards night but he replied that he was from Kerry and people from Kerry “never go to the semi-finals”.
The Oscars party will be his early All-Ireland final.
In an interview in 2018, reflecting on her truly amazing career to date, Jessie said: “At times it was tough but I often learned a lot more from the trip-ups than the successes.
“I played jazz in a night club where nobody listened to me for two years. I sold cereal in a market for a while. I worked in a clothes shop in Brixton. But that’s the life of an actor. You never really know when your next job is coming”
She won’t be short of offers now.