Daragh O'Malley

Daragh Gerard Marion O'Malley (born 25 May 1954) is an Irish actor, director and producer. He was born in Dublin, Ireland.

Daragh O'Malley
Born (1954-05-25) 25 May 1954 (age 66)
Dublin, Ireland
Years active1977–present
Spouse(s)Gabrielle Leavy
Parent(s)Donogh O'Malley
Hilda Moriarty
AwardsMTA Award - Drama League Award

Among many TV appearances O'Malley is known for his portrayal of Patrick Harper in the long-running [1993-2009] Sharpe TV series with Sean Bean. O'Malley first appeared in roles in the films The Long Good Friday and Withnail and I, leading guest roles in many UK television series including Tales of the Unexpected, Waking The Dead, Wire in the Blood, Silent Witness and Vera, and roles in Longitude, Cleopatra for ABC and The Magnificent Seven for CBS and in the US TV film Vendetta, as well as Camelot and Shaughnessy: The Iron Marshal. O'Malley also played Irish explorer Tom Crean in the epic Central 8 part television series The Last Place on Earth with Hugh Grant and Martin Shaw and Max Von Sydow.

In 2011 O'Malley turned his focus back to the stage and appeared in a slew of stage productions in the US and in the UK in quick succession. In the UK O'Malley appeared as Father Jack in a revival of Dancing at Lughnasa, which was nominated for an MTA Best Production Award, and followed that by playing John Rainey in a London revival of Irvine's Mixed Marriage, which received positive reviews.[1] In 2014, O'Malley appeared as Big Daddy in a widely acclaimed production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at The Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester, for which he was nominated for an MTA Best Actor award.[2][3] UK's The Stage selected O'Malley's performance in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof as one of the Top Five Performances in UK theatre in 2014. In 2018, it was announced that O'Malley would play the screen legend Marlon Brando in the one-man stage play Brando which is being developed by the Sundance Theatre Forum with The Brando Estate.


Daragh O'Malley was born in Holles Street Hospital in Dublin on 25 May 1954 to a politician, Donough, and a medical doctor Hilda (née Moriarty). He was raised in Limerick and educated by the Jesuits at Crescent College.

On the day that O'Malley was born, his father, Donogh O'Malley, an engineer, was elected to Dáil Éireann for the first time. Donogh O'Malley served as a TD for Limerick East from 1954 to 1968 and as his country's Minister for Health and later Minister for Education. As Minister for Education Donogh O'Malley is credited with sparking a major upsurge in the Irish economy and the improvement of the quality of life in Ireland by introducing free education at secondary and third level.

O'Malley's mother, Hilda Moriarty, was Patrick Kavanagh's inspiration for the poem Dark Miriam Ran Away, later put to the air of The Dawning of the Day and renamed Raglan Road at the request of the poet when he met the singer Luke Kelly of The Dubliners; it has been recorded by Van Morrison, Sinead O'Connor and Billy Joel. In 2019 On Raglan Road was voted Ireland's All Time Favourite Folk Song in a national TV poll.

O'Malley's aunt Meave (his father's sister) is singer Dido's grandmother. Dido wrote Grafton Street in memory of her father, who was a nephew of Hilda Moriarty – O’Malley, the dark haired beauty that snared Patrick Kavanagh. The Irish Times said that as ‘a young girl, Dido was obsessed with her great-aunt Hilda, the tales of her beauty and her role in Raglan Road’, and that she sung On Raglan Road to her father as he was dying.

As a teenager, O'Malley appeared as the lead in several student productions at Terenure College Of the cast of one of the school plays, Juno and the Paycock, five of the cast went on to become professional actors. He won multiple All Ireland prizes for poetry recitation and public speaking - aged 14 he won The Galassi Cup, an all-aged national public speaking competition. O'Malley's subject was The Life of Padraig Pearse.

O'Malley has seemingly been approached many times over the years by the Fianna Fáil party to put his name forward for election in his father's constituency, then Limerick East now Limerick City, but on each occasion O'Malley declined the invitation. On the Sam Smyth Radio Show in 2004, O'Malley stated, "The stress of politics, one of the great performance arts, killed my father at 47 – while I would like nothing better than appearing in the great theatre that is Dáil Éireann [the Irish parliament] even for just one day, I feel the price one would pay is far too high. Politics I have discovered,is a thankless activity which only breeds animosity and ultimately ends in failure – no matter how well intentioned one is."

O'Malley was very friendly over many years with Irish actor Richard Harris, who was also from Limerick, Ireland. O'Malley's father was once engaged to Harris's sister Audrey, but she died aged 21. O'Malley and Harris were often spotted together in hostelries around London - The Coal Hole on The Strand and The Wilton in Kinnerton Street - and at rugby matches in Britain when the Munster team were playing - often seen with Peter O'Toole in tow - or in Kilkee in County Clare, Ireland and at Dingle Races in Kerry Ireland . O'Malley and Harris both had an interest in horse racing - Harris owned two racehorses - Cromwell and A Tramp Shining, and O'Malley also owned two, Mustang Prince and Running Deer, a filly named after an Indian character in Harris's film A Man Called Horse.

O'Malley was one of the last people to spend time with former Taoiseach Charles Haughey before he died. Haughey, who was O'Malley's father's best friend, requested a meeting with O'Malley in his final days and O'Malley spent an afternoon in June 2006 with a very ill Haughey at his home in Dublin, accompanied by Noel Pearson, producer of the film My Left Foot Haughey died three days later.

O'Malley studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, where he appeared as Creon in ZAntigone with American actress Amy Irving in his final year production. On leaving LAMDA O'Malley was a founding member of Common Stock Theatre Company, one of London's first community theatre groups, which was based in an old church on Pentonville Road in London – where the clown Grimaldi is buried - and which took theatre to the poor of London's East End. A fellow founder member of Common Stock was Dame Harriet Walter

O'Malley married Gabrielle Leavy in June 1993 at Farm Street Church in London.

From 1992 to 2009, O'Malley appeared with Sean Bean in the iconic ITV series Sharpe, filmed in Ukraine, Crimea, Portugal, Turkey, India and at various locations in the UK. Sharpe is considered to be one of the most successful British TV series ever made and having been digitalized is still seen in 120 countries around the world. It has been dubbed into many languages from Spanish to Hindi. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron's only job outside of politics was as PR for Sharpe when he worked as Director of Communications for Carlton Television who produced the Sharpe series.

After Bobby Ewing was killed off in Dallas, Patrick Duffy, who had played the part, and O'Malley formed a partnership in the film production company European Motion Pictures.

In 1992 O'Malley sued Rupert Murdoch, Gill and McMillan/WH Allen and The Sunday Press for criminal libel, over an article which appeared on the front page of the News of the World and was copied in subsequent publications, which linked O'Malley and Patrick Duffy with the IRA. The case was settled on the steps of Ireland's High Court, with Murdoch - who appeared to have taken a personal interest in the case - accepting "that there was no truth whatsoever in the News of The World article which we published on our front page", resulting in Murdoch et al paying O'Malley a sum plus costs, which at the time was "the highest libel settlement in the history of the Irish State".

In the mid-1990s, O'Malley was cast as Debra Winger's husband in the ill-fated feature Divine Rapture, which also starred Marlon Brando, John Hurt and Johnny Depp. The production collapsed a few weeks into filming when Orion, the major Los Angeles production company backing the film, suddenly went bankrupt. O'Malley lived in Los Angeles for many years and after the collapse of Divine Rapture remained close to Brando. O'Malley and Brando were working on a film version of The Merchant of Venice - with Brando due to play Shylock - when Brando died. On Brando's death the project went into turnaround and was subsequently picked up with Al Pacino as Shylock. O'Malley bowed out and was not involved in the production of the Pacino film.

In 2011, O'Malley returned to the stage, appearing as Father Jack in a UK production of Brien Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa and as trade unionist John Rainey in an acclaimed London production of Irving's Mixed Marriage. Michael Billington of The Guardian described O'Malley's performance as "magnificent" in "the most compelling play in London".

In late 2014, O'Malley appeared as Big Daddy in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre. O'Malley was nominated as Best Actor at The MTA Theatre Awards - MTA stated "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof seethes with unhappy people circling the central character, patriarch Big Daddy. Daragh O’Malley blisters his way through this famous role like a raging bull with great physical presence tempered by emotional vulnerability". The Times called O'Malley's performance as Big Daddy "towering in every sense of the word".

In 2019 O'Malley appeared in a series of TV commercials for Allianz Insurance entitled We Cover Courage, playing his father, Donogh, in a high-end dramatisation of the announcement of the revolutionary free education scheme in Ireland in 1967. The Allianz commercials were directed by movie director Richie Smyth (The Siege of Jadotville).

O'Malley is the voice of the iconic crooked lawyer Nick Virago in the multi-million-selling Lucas Arts CD-ROM Grim Fandango. Also a voice actor and voice-over artist, O'Malley has voiced over 500 commercials and was for many years the voice of the Utah-based Beneficial Life Insurance Company on commercial radio across North America.


O'Malley produced the Irish version of The Rocky Horror Show in Dublin; the show won numerous awards, including a Best Production Jacob's Award. Author Richard O'Brien described O'Malley's Irish production as "without doubt, the sexiest version of my show ever produced".

In Los Angeles, O'Malley won a Drama-Logue Best Actor Award for his 1998 performance as Sweeney in Patrick Marber's Dealers Choice at The Mark Taper Forum.

A one-off episode of the BBC Series Doctors, a two-handed episode in which O'Malley appeared with actor Christopher Timothy, won a BANFF TV Award.

In 2011, a production of Dancing at Lughnasa in which O'Malley appeared as Father Jack was nominated for an MTA Award.

In 2015, O'Malley was nominated for an MTA Award and STAGE Best Actor Award for his performance as Big Daddy in Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Royal Exchange, Manchester.

In 2017, O'Malley was nominated for a West End Offie Award for his performance as the crooked police chief Ivan in the UK premiere of Maxine Gorky's The Last Ones at The Jermyn Street Theatre.

Charity workEdit

O'Malley was founder of The Sharpe's Children Foundation,[4] a charity designed to fight poverty with education and take orphaned and destitute children off the streets of the Third World and into residential primary education. The SCF was launched at Apsley House, once home of the Duke of Wellington, in October 2010. Team India, sponsored by The Sharpe's Children Foundation and made up of children who lived in railway carriages at Delhi Railway Station and who played football in the railway yards, won The Street Children's World Cup in Durban, South Africa in 2010. The Sharpe's Children Foundation was chosen as World Charity of The Year in 2012 by Intellectual Property Magazine and was integrated with The Consortium for Street Children later that year.



  1. ^ Michael Billington (10 October 2011). "Mixed Marriage – review | Stage". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  2. ^ Paul Vallely (6 November 2014). "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Royal Exchange Manchester, review: A compelling production". The Independent. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  3. ^ "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Royal Exchange, reviewed by Emma Rhys". The Manchester Review. 12 November 2014. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  4. ^ "The Sharpe's Children Foundation". causes.com. 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013.

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