Soundman who went back to college in Cork age 67 among Oscar contenders

Veteran soundman and Irish citizen Doug Murray nominated for his work on The Batman

The Banshees of Inisherin may have received a record number of Oscar nominations and An Cailín Ciúin is vying for the best foreign language film but they are not the only ones carrying Irish hopes at this Sunday night’s Academy Award ceremony.

University College Cork graduate and Irish citizen through marriage Doug Murray has been nominated for the best sound Oscar for his work on The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson as the crime-fighting caped crusader.

Mr Murray, a graduate of UCC’s MA in experimental sound practice, has worked on a string of successful films – from The English Patient and Twin Peaks through to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and the recent Planet of the Apes series.

A native of San Francisco, Mr Murray studied film at California State University before working for the production company where he met his future wife, Dubliner Bernadette ‘Betch’ Glenn, while working on Jimmy Carter’s 1980 re-election campaign.


The couple moved to Ireland in the late 1980s and Mr Murray found work with Ardmore Studios as the Irish film industry enjoyed a renaissance following the introduction of the Section 35 tax break for movie production.

“While at Ardmore we contracted with Screen Training Ireland to provide a training course for assistant sound editors initially and began the training of a generation of Irish sound editors. Other more advanced courses were provided later as the needs arose,” he recalled.

“We brought editors and mixers from Skywalker Sound and Hollywood to take lead roles on films and to teach our courses. We mixed films by John Boorman, Neil Jordan, Gerry Stembridge and Peter Sheridan, among many others, as well as TV shows from the BBC and RTÉ.”

Mr Murray said he was particularly delighted to be Oscar-nominated as part of the sound team for The Batman as he knew it would be his last film. Eyeing a career in teaching, he wanted a qualification that would enable him to lecture, which brought him to UCC.

“As a mature student at 67-years-old I was slightly concerned about how I would make the transition back to being in a challenging academic program, but it didn’t take long for me to forget all that, as the course was perfectly suited to my interests,” he said.

“The professors and instructors, who were all younger than me, and my fellow students, who were all younger than my children, were very accepting of me and welcomed my diverse set of experiences, as I appreciated theirs.

“The musical improvisation, composition, collaboration and realisation courses I took incorporated various 20th- and 21st-century approaches and were challenging and liberating for someone like me who had spent decades working with sound in a very different way. I loved every part of it!”

Mr Murray is looking forward to Sunday night’s ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles which he will attend with his wife and daughter, Lydia, with his first Oscar nomination being made all the more poignant by the fact that it will also be his last.

“This is my first nomination and it will no doubt be my last, since I retired right after completing work on The Batman. It gives me a welcome sense of accomplishment to be recognised by my peers with this nomination. It’s a very gratifying way to have my career in film sound end.

“All my formerly Oscar-nominated friends suggest that I enjoy every minute of the attention and the process. Of course, it would be very nice to win the iconic statuette in front of all the stars in the room and a huge live TV audience but even if I don’t, it will be a fun party.”

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times