Following on from two of my most successful articles on the site to date (Leaders of Medium and Large Organisations in Ireland who have Dyslexia, and Irish start-up founders embracing their Dyslexia) here are 15 Irish people from the world of entertainment and the arts who openly discuss their Dyslexia:
Having moved between England and Ireland since she was a young child Pauline settled in County Cork and enrolled in art school in 1950, due to always preferring art to English as she didn’t have to spell. Now a highly acclaimed artist her work can be found on the stain glass of Bewleys cafe and more than 250 piece in exhibitions around the world
Actor, comedian and promoter of The International Comedy club was diagnosed with Dyslexia relatively late in life at the ae of 28. In 2011 he performed at The Edinburgh Fringe festival saying “at the Edinburgh Fringe performing “Misspelled”, an hour-long comedy show about his experience growing up with undiagnosed Dyslexia, attracting the acclaim of support organisations. Speaking about his Dyslexia “the myth that clearly hurts most is the myth that Dyslexia affects intelligence. You spend the majority of your life thinking you’re stupid and then you find out what’s going on and it helps you a lot in different areas of your life – with your self-esteem”.
Multi award winning opera singer Celine Byrne is a lyric soprano from Kildare. She studied at the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama in Dublin and at the Royal Irish Academy of Music under Veronica Dunne. In 2007 she was awarded the First Prize at the Maria Callas International Grand Prix in Athens. Speaking about her Dyslexia she says “It has helped me in some ways, in school I was very reliant on my ear so anything that the teacher told me I retained. So I have a good memory. I couldn’t retain anything when I read it because I was concentrating so much on making sure the words weren’t jumping off the page, so I would read my books onto a dictaphone and play it back.”
Radio host and host of The Final Furlong Podcast Emmet has discussed how his Dyslexia led to him getting a dispensation Irish classes in school and this directly led to him going to counselling for some childhood trauma, which helped him enormously in his career.
Having left school at an early age Timmy had addiction issues which led to him being sent to prison. At the age of 32, Timmy began reading and writing while in prison. He got his junior cert, while in prison and once released he spent the last eight years in education, in 2020 honours degree in construction management. Today, Timmy co-hosts ‘The Two Norries’ podcast along with James Leonard, where they discuss social issues, mental health, addiction, recovery, and trauma.
The IFTA nominated actress starred in the likes of Red Rock, Pure Mule, and for a brief time in Game of Thrones, Jane graduated from The Gaiety School of Acting in 2009. Speaking of her Dyslexia to the Irish Examiner she said “I’m a lot better now,” she says, “my confidence is a lot better. In school it was so low and that hinders you because you think you can’t do whatever it is that has to be done and you make it a factual choice and you kind of settle on that. So really I had a difficult time in primary school.”
Multi award winning musician Roisin grew up in Wicklow and Manchester before becoming interested in music. Speaking about her Dyslexia she said “I was very artistic but never academic, and to hell. I always thought that I’d do visual art and I had a place at Manchester polytechnic, but I’d gone to Sheffield and then I got a record deal, and so I never went”
Leaving school with no qualifications – as a result of severe dyslexia and bullying, Marcus works as a global communications facilitator expert and leadership development mentor across a variety of sectors. He enjoyed an award winning 7-year career in the BBC both in front and behind the mic. Marcus has a 21-year career as a Drag Queen. With his work being impacted by Covid-19 Marcus created the The U=Can Network. Saying “it is here to help with a supportive safety net to guide, nobody should ever not reach their dreams, because of age, race, grammar/spelling, etc confusions or funds!” So far The U=Can Network as help close to 600 lives globally and it’s still in its 1st year” Marcus is finishing off a manuscript for his 1st novel ‘MINE!’ by reading his handwritten manuscript into word dictate and a little help from Alexa, who is his spelling PA, he really welcomes any one to reach out and say hi from anywhere in the world on any time zone and grab a zoom coffee, his philosophy is “a stranger is only a friend you haven’t met!”
Comedian and star of the multi-award winning Mrs. Brown’s Boy spoke about his Dyslexia on The Late Late Show saying “‘I grew up knowing I was different from other kids, because my mum spotted it. I didn’t know I was . Back in 1960 who knew what Dyslexia was?! I left school at 12 so I had seven years of formal education but I’m a member of MENSA. I’ve got an IQ in the top 1% in the world and I’m very proud of that”
The most recent entrant on the list. Rory created his Facebook page Rory’s Stories in 2013. Rory put up two sketches a week since then and has grown the page to over 768,000 fans, while also growing his social media presence on other sites too. The popularity of the site led Rory to create successful comedy tours, TV show appearances and recently published a book
Rory opened up to The Irish Mirror about how his son getting a diagnosis of Dyslexia led him to investigate if he had the same conditions saying “There’s [lots of] emotions. There’s a kind of relief… that it’s not in your head and you’re not finding excuses about not being able to do stuff. And then a bit of anger towards, you know, your school days and beating yourself up over not understanding because the way your mind is wired.”
After receiving first class honours in B.A. in Acting at Trinity College Dublin, and having appeared in many stage and screen productions, Aisling never let her Dyslexia interfere with her work. However, Aisling was cast by Zac Global Promotions to star in a musical. However, with very little lead time, the script constantly changing and issues with the production team Aisling sent a letter to the production company saying that her Dyslexia was not being accommodated and she needed more time to read the script. With no changes implemented, after another week the company fired Aisling saying at first it was creative difference, but later in a letter to her agent saying her Dyslexia was getting in the way. Aisling took the company to the Labour Relations Committee and was awarded €20,000 as it was clear she was discriminated against due to being
Having left school early due to his severe Dyslexia, Nigel O’Reilly started out as a precision engineer. In order to impress a girl Nigel started making his own jewellery (it worked, the girl is now his wife Tracey). Having served his appricatship he then set about building his business from his spare bedroom into the award winning manufacturing and design facility he has now. His pieces have been worn from New York to London and at major entertainment industry awards by Irish actress Saoirse Ronan.
Creator of the multi award winning show Damo and Ivor said of his Dyslexia “I tried to write stuff on my own. All the jokes that were in my head I had problems putting them down on paper. But then he got a writing partner saying “My cousin Jules offered to write them, type them up. We started doing that and then we became writing partners. I’d get into the car for about 20 minutes and act out the scene pretending to be Damo and Ivor. When I get home I record the scene into my phone and play the recording until I’ve typed it out on two fingers onto my laptop. Because I couldn’t do it with a pen and paper because I’d be too distracted, I have to use my imagination for it”.
Won over 50 awards for both packaging design and illustration including Gold awards from the Association of Illustrators, Illustrators Guild of Ireland, the IDI and ICAD. He’s been an awards judge for Adobe, 3×3 and the Hong Kong Society of Illustrators and is also a founding member of the Illustrators Guild of Ireland and OFFSKETCH
The RTE star of Dancing With The Stars, TV3’s and Xpose spoke about her Dyslexia saying “It is something I’ve come to realise myself. It was never properly spotted. It was missed in school. I wouldn’t say I’m horrendous, it’s just that the letters move around in certain words, and numbers move around. I’ll go to the airport and try to find gate number 13, but I end up going to gate 31. Now I tell people ‘Oh, I’m , by the way.’ What’s the point in being shy? In being embarrassed? Why give a crap what someone else is going to think about you? Do whatever you want to do, and have fun. People are always going to have opinions, and who cares? The moment is here and then it’s going to be gone, like that,” she snaps her fingers. “Let go of all your inhibitions and just chill. If you think something is going to be really embarrassing, just do it”