A planning application has been received by Kerry County Council for permission for “an acting school” at the Fassbender family owned and historic "West End House" in Killarney town centre.
The name, appropriate for an acting school, predates the Fassbenders.
The application is in the name of Dromin Ltd/Josef Fassbender, of Dromin, Fossa, Killarney, the father of actor Michael Fassbender.
A protected structure, West End House is a historic building in Lower New Street. Josef Fassbender, a German chef, and his wife, Antrim-born Adele, ran the building as a restaurant and guest house for many years, with Michael and his sister, Catherine, now a neuropsychologist, helping out.
Growing up in Fossa
In 1979 the Fassbenders moved from Heidelberg, where Michael was born, to Fossa, which has strong connections with southern Germany. Michael and his sister grew up in Fossa and went to the local school. He developed his taste for acting in St Brendan’s Secondary School in Killarney, he said.
Now living in Portugal, with his wife, actress Alicia Vikander, he keeps close contact with Killarney and his many friends there. He has visited his old school and enthusiastically follows the local car rally of the lakes.
As well as leading the town’s annual St Patrick’s Parade, he has been awarded a number of civic receptions including the town’s highest accolade: the Order of Inisfallen.
In more recent years the West End has been leased to Polish family as a beauty and hairdressing business named “Desire”, now closed due to the pandemic.
The 19th century building was established as a school of cookery and housewifery by Lord Kenmare who developed the town’s budding tourist industry – training young women for the burgeoning hotel industry, as well as for work in the big houses of Cork and Kerry.
Killarney has a long history of association with dramatic acting and film– the 1936 film The Dawn, a sensation when it was released, was devised, acted and filmed locally; before that the Kalem Film Company had located a studio in Killarney and set up in Beaufort near the town.
The council said it is currently validating the application which it received last week. The permission sought is for change of use from a restaurant and beauty salon to an acting school.