Two and a half years after leaving our screens, the influx of talent from RTE crime drama ‘Love/Hate’ continue to blossom both at home and abroad. While names such as Aidan Gillen and Brian Gleeson entered the show with commendable CV’s, some lesser known rookies have continued to build strides. One such man is Kieran O’Reilly, aka Detective Ciaran Madden, who is cementing his name in the Irish acting industry while making waves with alternative rock band ‘Hail The Ghost’.
Kieran first entered Love/Hate in its 4th season, as part of the detective squad determined to take down Drug Lord ‘Nidge’ and his fellow cronies. Soon enough, however, the calibre of his on screen performances were being distracted by events elsewhere. The revelations that Kieran was also working as a real-life detective with the Irish police force brought renewed interest in his character, but also prompted an investigation from the Garda Commissioner. He was quickly cleared of any wrongdoing, allowing himself to progress into season 5 of the show.
Sitting in Dublin’s Camden Court Hotel where I meet Kieran, the scandal is not really a topic for conversation due to him still working with An Garda. But when asked about the similarities between Love/Hate and the ‘real thing’, he believes it really did succeed at being a genuine portrayal – something which he attributes to the writing style of Stuart Carolan.
“The thing about Stuart is that he’s all about realism, and just having things ‘as they are’.”, says Kieran. “His insight and understanding of things is just amazing, and you really do end up just marvelling at the way he goes about things. And I think this emphasis on accuracy and realism is obvious in his work to date and something you will see mirrored in his future work.”
It was in 2014 when Love/Hate was brought to a dramatic halt, with the murder of Nidge at the end of season 5. But while Kieran echoes the sentiment of other cast in “wishing, for selfish reasons, that the show could have continued for 10 years”, there is no sense of coyness when he says the cast were not privy to the season 5 being the end.
“Honestly, we were on the same boat as everyone else. There was obviously a lot of speculation at the time on whether it would come back. And for the first few months it was something that was genuinely up in the air, but as time went on it just settled. And while I would have had no doubt in a successful 6th season, I think the killing of Nidge was a satisfactory ending for all.”
Despite the crime drama bringing renewed hope for Irish viewers, RTE has been suffering something of a perpetual hangover since, with references to Love/Hate as a “once in a lifetime show” becoming depressingly more common. This view was given further legitimacy by a damning indictment from director Lenny Abrahamson, who described Irish TV as ‘depressing’ and ‘mediocre’.
Kieran believes much of the packaging and substance is there, but that we may be lagging behind on one key aspect.
“Obviously it’s all subjective, but I think maybe our writing lets us down sometimes. There is no denying that we have the quality in terms of acting – it’s actually a very competitive field here. You look at productions such as striking out and can’t cope won’t cope, and you can see we can do good productions.”
Indeed writing is something Kieran has also ventured out to since finishing up with Love/Hate with his own script on the horizon. But it’s his music career with has really caught the eye of pundits. Since 2014 his self-described ‘cinematic and alternative rock’ band ‘Hail The Ghost’ have been receiving praise from persons as far as Brazil and Ukraine, as well as their 2015 album ‘Forsaken’ receiving glowing reviewing from Irish music critics.
Their fluctuation and merging of styles has seen them compared to many, but comparisons to ‘The National’, have popped up on more than one occasion. Kieran greets this with obvious acceptance but is also aware to keep the distance.
“Obviously it’s a wonderful thing, knowing your sound is being compared to the National. It’s very complementary. At the same time, you don’t want to be living in another band’s shadow. And I suppose that’s something we will be conscious of when writing the second album, just trying to keep some distance and to keep doing our own thing.”
The so called “second album syndrome” is the next challenge for Kieran and the band, but overall they feel fortunate to be at this stage in the first place given that they are “self-funded and very much on their own journey”.
Overall it’s been a busy two years for Kieran. Alongside his musical pursuits he has appeared in hit TV series ‘Vikings’, starred alongside Mel Gibson and Sean Penn in ‘Professor and The Madman’, as well as receiving an award for his role in Irish film ‘Little Bear’.
But while he may fit the unorthodox profile of a Garda tapping into the creative industry, there are no plans for him to give up the day job yet.
“I’m happy and settled here, and my job has been very good to me. So for now I’m not going to leave it all and put my eggs in one basket.”
However, if America came calling, could he refuse?
“America… who knows. I’m just finished season 5 of Vikings, and awaiting the news to see if there will be a 6th season. There’s also the feature film I have just finished writing with Cathal Kenna, which has a great cast. So if America ever did come calling, then yes, why not.”