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Wednesday 20 September 2017

Last curtain call for giant of the arts Mac Anna

Shane Hickey

IT was the final of many rounds of applause for a man who had a lifetime of curtain calls.

Hundreds of mourners paid an emotional tribute yesterday as the former director of the Abbey Theatre, Tomas Mac Anna, was brought on his final journey.

The playwright, actor and director died on Tuesday following a career in which he won a number of awards and was hailed as a giant within the arts.

At his funeral in Bray, Co Wicklow, his son Ferdia described his father as a man who created wonderful universes for audiences from his front room study in their "bohemian" home.

"He was a different sort of dad. I thought that when I was growing up that every dad had a ponytail, went to the Abbey on the first night, brought his family to see plays, wore waistcoats, had Beatles albums and liked Spike Milligan," he told the congregation.

"I found out that wasn't quite the case. Nothing normal seemed to ever happen in our house but everything that happened seemed to be colourful and memorable."

Mr Mac Anna's daughter, Fiona, said her father would regularly manage a number of tasks at the same time.

"He was the only person I ever came across who, with the cigarette dangling vicariously from the side of his mouth, could give direction talking non-stop, run around the rehearsal room and drink a cup of tea all at the same time without dislodging a single flake of ash: genius," she said.

Amongst those in attendance were the director of the Abbey, Fiach Mac Conghail; writer Ulick O'Connor; playwright Tom Kilroy; Abbey actors Pat Laffan and Des Cave; actors Barry McGovern, Tom Hickey, Stephen Rea, Niall Tobin and Eamon Morrissey; artist Robert Ballagh; and John O'Shea of GOAL.

Mr Mac Anna is survived by his wife Caroline, daughters Fiona and Darina and sons Ferdia, Niall and Naoise.

Meanwhile, the funeral also took place yesterday of actor Alan Devlin following his sudden death last week at the age of 64. He was best known for his role in Irish films such as 'Song for a Raggy Boy', 'War of the Buttons' and 'Bloom'.

The oldest child of celebrated showband singer Johnny Devlin, his mother was a member of a famous Dublin dancing troupe, the Royalettes.

The actor performed on stage and screen since the 1970s and starred in many films including 'The Long Good Friday' and 'Ordinary Decent Criminal'. On television he appeared in 'The Clinic', 'Fair City', 'Remington Steele' and 'The Irish RM'.

The service took place at Mount Jerome Crematorium in Dublin yesterday afternoon and was attended by a number of prominent figures from stage and screen.

Irish Independent

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