Hosted by Limerick Museum, this intriguing exhibition is focusing on two of Limerick’s greatest film stars Richard Harris (1930-2002) and Constance Smith (1928-2003).
This exhibition is organised by the Richard Harris International Film Festival and is being hosted by Limerick Museum.
Just about everyone in Limerick is familiar with Richard Harris, ‘Ireland's first global cinema star’. Born in Limerick City, a son of the wealthy flour-mill owner Ivan Harris, he grew up in the family residence Overdale, Ennis Road, Limerick and was educated at the Crescent College. He moved to London in 1955 and lived there until the 1970s, when he made his home in the Bahamas, before returning to London towards the end of his life. Nevertheless, he always retained great affection for Limerick, particularly for rugby, which he had played very successfully as a young man.
During his long film career (1958-2002), he made seventy-five films, and his most famous roles included Frank Machin in This Sporting Life (1963), King Arthur in Camelot (1967), the title role in Cromwell (1970), the Bull McCabe in The Field (1990) and Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter films (2001-02). He was nominated twice for an academy award as best actor in a leading role (This Sporting Life and The Field). He was also for a time a chart-topping singer, and his recording of MacArthur’s Park was a world-wide hit single in 1968. Famous for his wild lifestyle, he was married twice and had three sons. Following his death, Richard’s ashes were scattered at his home in the Bahamas, but his family grave is at Mount Saint Lawrence Cemetery here in Limerick City.
Less well known is Constance Smith, one of Hollywood’s leading actresses in the early to mid-1950s. Headhunted by world-famous producer Darryl Zanuck after featuring in low-budget films in the UK, Smith had quickly forged a career in the United States by her early 20s. But she was her own worst enemy in a way. They wanted her to change her name because they thought Smith was too common; she wouldn’t do it. They wanted her to lose her Irish accent; she wouldn’t do it. And after being refused desired leading roles in Zanuck’s films due to her resistance to his advances, her career entered a long decline. In 1960, she and her partner and director Paul Rotha, visited Limerick, and did exclusive interviews with both the Limerick Leader and the Limerick Chronicle. After battling depression and alcohol for many years, she died in poverty aged seventy-five.
About the Exhibition
This exhibition is a collaboration between the Richard Harris International Film Festival and Limerick Film Archive on the one hand and Limerick Museum on the other. It showcases the very fine collection of Harris and Smith memorabilia held by Limerick Film Archive, with contributions from the private collection of Mr. William O’Reilly a life-long friend of Richards. The exhibition has been curated by Declan McLoughlin, founder and curator of Limerick Museum Film Archive.
Glazed Street of Limerick City and County Council Buildings