Rory O'Shea Was Here

Director: Damien O'Donnell
Screenwriters: Jeffrey Caine

Institute History

  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival


When iconoclastic, boisterous Rory O'Shea explodes onto the scene at Dublin's Carrigmore Residential Home for people with "special needs," the fact that he's paralyzed from the neck down due to muscular dystrophy doesn't stop him from blasting rock music or pissing off the prim staff any chance he can. It's not long before he's corrupting taciturn Michael O'Connelly, a lad whose cerebral palsy confines him to a wheelchair and impairs his speech. It turns out Rory is the only person around who can interpret Michael's garbled language, and he soon discovers that, contrary to popular opinion, Michael is extremely eloquent. Like a classic odd couple, the two couldn't be more dissimilar, but their opposite skills—Rory's unbridled drive and Michael's strategic thinking—allow them to mastermind an exit from Carrigmore into independent living. Then the real adventures, frustrations, and sometimes painful life lessons begin.

Like a breath of fresh air, Damien O'Donnell's Rory O'Shea Was Here is a humorous, emotional coming-of-age drama that never romanticizes disability or settles for glib resolutions. More than anything, it is a story of a contoured, interdependent alliance and a mutual struggle for self-determination. The characters are so finely developed that disability is simply one aspect of who they are. With charismatic, remarkably authentic performances by the two leads, this charming celebration of human integrity and the power of friendship is deeply moving and uplifting.

— Caroline Libresco

Screening Details

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