AS A little girl, Amelia O’Driscoll never dreamed she would be snapped for the Evening Echo among a host of movie stars.
The Cork woman is one of many readers sharing their remarkable connections with the newspaper today as the organisation marks its 130th anniversary. Ms O’Driscoll, who lives in the Glen, has The Echo delivered to her home every day. She has vowed never to miss an edition until the day she dies.
No stranger to featuring in The Echo too, Amelia’s first brush with fame came when she appeared in the publication at the age of just nine years old.
She could have mistaken the experience for a dream were it not for the photograph appearing in this newspaper the very next day. Rewind back to the very first Cork Film Festival back in 1956 when some of the greatest movie stars of their era descended upon the rebel county. Maureen Swanson, John Griegson and Tony Wright were among the glittering line up who took to the water with Amelia that day.
“I was Irish dancing for movie stars on a boat named the Blarney Tender,” Amelia recalled.
“It was filled with movie stars visiting the city for Cork’s very first film festival. I was dancing with the Molly Hasson School of Dancing. It was a great honour to have the chance to dance for so many movie stars. Peter Finch had a movie camera and was filming us all dancing. I had never seen one up to that point.
"We were too young to know who any of the movie stars were at the time but a few years later I saw Peter Finch in the Nun’s Story with Audrey Hepburn. I was weak for that film and found it very moving. The film stars were very nice to us. They were even trying to dance the way we did. I’m not sure if they had seen Irish dancing before or even knew what it was.”
The 76-year-old recalled one heroic moment from a crew member.
“Poor Maureen Swanson was in a right state. One of her shoes fell overboard and a sailor had to dive in to get it. He banged his head in the process but thank God he was okay. When he arrived back on the boat with the shoe in his hand everyone clapped and cheered. We couldn’t believe he had managed to get it back for her.”
Amelia beamed as she recalled how they danced the day away together.
“The movie stars were dancing with us in the middle. It was a beautiful moment. We were all over The Echo. I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life.”
Amelia still describes it as one of the best days of her life.
“When I got home that day my dad told me that I now had a baby brother. He was born that very same day.
“It had been one of the best days of my life. The next day we were in The Echo. It felt like was such a privilege. I left Irish dancing when I was 13. That’s what often happens when you become a teenager but I’ll always remember that day.”
However, Amelia never gave up her love of The Echo and has contributed to many articles, both in the news, features and fashion section, over the years.
“In the sixties, people used to say I looked like Twiggy because I was so slim. However, I didn’t have the confidence to do modelling back then. It’s only since I developed cancer and went to hell and back that I really got my confidence.
“I’ve modelled in The Echo in the WOW!’s street style section and their My Wardrobe column. Another shoot saw me model for Positive Ageing Week in The Echo’s Forever Young supplement.”
Amelia’s husband is also a fan of the publication.
“My house wouldn’t be without The Echo. Almost every memorable event we’ve had has been covered by The Echo including our wedding and many of our wedding anniversaries. It will always be a huge part of our lives.”
See your Echo 130 years supplement in today’s edition.