The empty chair: Remembering those who passed away in 2015
Published 27/12/2015 | 02:30
Liam Collins recalls the lives and achievements of the well-known, and some lesser-known names, who died in the past year
Maeve Hillery, the wife of Dr Patrick Hillery, who served two terms as President of Ireland (1976-1990), died on January 10 at the age of 91.
Mrs Hillery was a consultant anaesthetist, but eventually gave up her career to support her husband's sometimes turbulent political ambitions. In October 1979 the couple were beset by rumours that Mr Hillery was having an affair. Dr Hillery later blamed Charles Haughey - his political opponent within Fianna Fail - for the rumours, which he denied at the time in a meeting with a group of Dublin newspaper editors.
Anita Ekberg, who died on January 11 at the age of 83, was a Hollywood sex symbol in the drab 1950s.
Although she played in many films of the era, the former Miss Sweden was immortalised by director Federico Fellini who filmed her frolicking in Rome's Trevi Fountain in the 1960 movie La Dolce Vita, which set the tone for the Swinging Sixties.
Anne Kirkbride, who died of cancer on January 19 at the age of 60, was best-known for her role as Dei rdre Barlow in the long-running British soap opera, Coronation Street.
Originally from Oldham in the north of England, she spent 42 years on "the Street" and was such a fixture that her on-screen death from a suspected aneurysm was staged when illness made it impossible for her to continue working.
Leon Brittan was a British barrister and Conservative MP who, in 1983, was appointed home secretary by UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher and played a prominent role in putting down the miners' strike. He was later demoted as Thatcher regarded him as a poor communicator.
Shortly before and after his death on January 21 at the age of 75, he was implicated in child sex allegations aired in the House of Commons under parliamentary privilege.
Colleen McCullough, the Australian writer, was best-known as the author of the raunchy novel The Thorn Birds, the theme of which was the seduction of a Catholic priest. The resulting television series was one of the most-watched of all time following the book's publication in 1983.
McCullough, who wrote the book while working as a researcher at Yale University in the United States, died on January 29 at the age of 88.
The following also died during January: Rod Taylor (84), Hollywood actor best-known for his role in The Birds; Demis Roussos (68), Egyptian-born Greek singer best-known for Forever and Ever; Rod McKuen (81), folk singer and poet remembered for Seasons in the Sun; Christopher Lee (93), British actor who specialised in Dracula and also starred in Lord of the Rings.
The 8th Marquess of Waterford, John Beresford, who died on February 11 at the age of 81, was the owner of the extensive Curraghmore estates in Co Waterford.
An enthusiastic polo player, he was the youngest ever member of the Irish Turf Club and captain of the All-Ireland Polo Club from 1960 to 1985. As well as the Curraghmore team, he was also a member of the Duke of Edinburgh's polo team at Windsor Castle. After a career in the British army, he returned to Waterford to run his estates.
Donald Keough was an Irish-American investment banker who was chief operations officer and president of the Coca-Cola Company at various times from 1981 to 1993.
His involvement in Irish affairs and his funding of the Keough-Naughton Centre in Dublin saw him made an honorary citizen by President Mary McAleese in 2007. He was also a director of Columbia Pictures and other blue chip American corporations. He died in Atlanta, Georgia, on February 24 at the age of 83.
Leonard Nimoy was a Boston-born actor who is best known as Dr Spock from the cult TV series Star Trek. He made his first appearance in a pilot for the programme in 1964 and played Dr Spock until the production finished in 1969. In an attempt to counter the adulation of fans, he titled his autobiography I Am Not Dr Spock. He died on February 27 at the age of 83.
The following also died during February: Colm Corless (92), Galway hurler; Frank Prendergast (81), former Labour TD and Mayor of Limerick.
Jim McCann, who died on March 5 at the age of 70, was a well-known ballad singer and a member of The Dubliners from 1974 to 1979.
He started singing with The Ludlows folk group and later performed as a solo artist. His last performance, a concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Dubliners, took place in 2012, though he was too ill with throat cancer to sing. His book, An Obstacle Confusion (with illustrations by Wendy Shea), a collection of humorous stories about the late banjo player Barney McKenna, was published posthumously.
Sam Simon, a one time, newspaper cartoonist, co-created The Simpsons television show in 1989, co-writing the first eight episodes of the long-running series.
He left in 1993 following disagreements with his partners, but continued to work on various television shows until his death from cancer on March 8 at the age of 59, leaving a fortune of more than $100m (€91m) to charitable causes.
James Molyneaux was the dour Orangeman who led the Ulster Unionist Party from 1979 to 1995.
He fiercely opposed the Good Friday Agreement, which gave the Republic a say in the future of Northern Ireland, and the leadership of his successor, David Trimble, which saw his party's traditional political leadership of the Protestant population eclipsed by the Democratic Unionist Party led by the Rev Ian Paisley. He died at his home in Antrim on March 9 at the age of 94.
Tony Fenton was part of the wave of young disc jockeys who started in the pirate radio stations springing up all over the country in the 1970s due to the lack of popular music on RTE.
Born Tony Fagan in Glasnevin, Dublin, he worked on a mobile disco before joining Alternative Radio Dublin (ARD) in 1978. He was later a popular fixture on both Sunshine and Nova before being poached by 2fm where he stayed for 18 years. He moved to Today FM in 2004 and worked until shortly before his death from prostate cancer. He died on March 11 at the age of 53.
The following also died during March: Terry Pratchett (66), British fantasy author with connections to Trinity College Dublin; Tommy Maher (92), hurler and priest who was known as "the godfather of Kilkenny hurling"; Jack Harte (94), a member of the Senate and Labour Party activist; Jackie Trent (74), singer and songwriter who had a No1 hit with Where are You Now (My love)?
Cynthia Lennon was the first wife of Beatle John Lennon and mother of his son Julian.
A middle-class Liverpool girl who married Lennon before the band found fame, she was hidden away so as not to upset their early female fan base. Yoko One was blamed for the break-up of Lennon's marriage, and the couple divorced in 1968. Cynthia died on April 1 at her home in Spain at the age of 75.
George Byrne, a well-informed and often outspoken music journalist and film critic, first worked with Hot Press before joining the Evening Herald. He was a talented and combative radio performer who could hold his own in any company.
He was also an enthusiastic soccer fan, particularly when it came to Shamrock Rovers and Ireland. He died of a stroke at the age of 57 on April 2.
Ray Treacy was a Dublin travel agent and former professional footballer who started with Dublin club Home Farm before going to West Bromwich Albion where he began and ended his professional career.
Between 1968 and 1980 he made 42 international appearances, scoring five goals. He later established a travel agency in Store Street, Dublin, which closed in 2009. He died of cancer on April 10 at the age of 68.
Gunter Grass, the German author of The Tin Drum, caused consternation with the publication of the book in 1959, as it chronicled how Germany fell under the spell of Adolf Hitler.
He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999 for what was described as "frolicsome black fables which portray the forgotten face of history". His enemies gloated when he revealed in 2006 that he had served briefly, as a 17-year-old conscript, in the notorious Waffen SS. He died on April 13 at the age of 87.
Percy Sledge was born in Alabama in November 1940. He began singing gospel at an early age and later carved out a career as a soul and R&B singer. He is best remembered for his slow soul classic When a Man Loves a Woman, which went to No1 in the US in 1966 and the British charts in 1988.
He continued to tour for most of his life before dying of liver cancer in Baton Rouge on April 14 at the age of 74.
Roy Mason was a bluff Yorkshireman who served as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 1976 to 1979 and is reputed to have said, when boarding a flight back to Britain for the weekend: "For God's sake, give me a large Scotch, what a bloody awful country."
As Secretary of State for Defence he introduced the SAS to South Armagh and expressed the belief that the province "needs to be governed firmly but fairly". He died on April 19 - the day after his 91st birthday.
The following also died during April: Katherine Delahunt (61), a judge of the Circuit Court; Gerry Corr (82), father of the family band of the same name from Dundalk, Co Louth; Jim McCarthy (90), Irish rugby international; Des Boal (85), Belfast barrister and Unionist MP; Richard West (84), writer, journalist and husband of Mary Kenny; Ronnie Carroll (81), Belfast-born singer who represented the UK twice in the early years of the Eurovision Song Contest.
Gerard 'Jock' Davison, who was shot dead in Belfast on May 5 at the age of 47, was from a staunchly Republican family and became IRA commander in South Belfast.
He was implicated in the murder of Robert McCartney in Magennis's Bar in early 2005. Originally from The Markets area of the city, he was well-connected with leading members of Sinn Fein and was regarded as a "senior" pro-Peace Process figure in the Republican community.
Derek Davis was a radio and television presenter with a deep interest in rural Ireland, particularly its food and fishing. He always maintained his media career was an accident as he was studying law at Queen's University when he stumbled into a part-time job with the BBC in Belfast.
He began writing sketches and performing on Frank Hall's Pictorial Weekly as Mean Tom before progressing to a job in RTE.
He was probably best-known for his afternoon magazine programme with Thelma Mansfield, Live At Three. Born in Co Down, he died in Dublin at the age of 67 on May 13.
BB King, who died in Las Vegas on May 14 at the age of 89, was an influential Blues singer and musician who was ranked as one of the greatest guitarists of all time.
He regarded himself as a working musician and continually toured the world with his various bands. He collaborated with U2 on the song When Love Comes to Town from the Rattle & Hum album.
Bill O'Herlihy was best-known as "the chairman" of the RTE soccer panel that for many years comprised Eamon Dunphy, Johnny Giles and Liam Brady, and for his tag- line of "okey dokey" as he wrapped up a discussion or argument.
Although extremely well- informed, he took a back seat, getting the best out of the others. He began his career as a journalist in Cork before graduating to RTE where he worked on the investigations programme 7 Days.
He co-founded the public relations firm Public Relations of Ireland (PRI) and was an active supporter of Fine Gael leader Garrett FitzGerald and an important figure in his election committee, known in the media in the 1980s as the National Handlers. He died on May 25 at the age of 76.
The following also died during May: Denis Sheehan (68), U2 tour manager; Tommy Dunne (83), Irish international and St Patrick's Athletic soccer player; Ruth Rendell (85), British crime writer; Liam Ryan (79), Limerick hurler and theologian.
Charles Kennedy, who died on June 1 at the age of 55, led the Liberal Democrats in Britain from 1999 to 2006, when he resigned two days after admitting to chronic alcoholism.
He opposed Nick Clegg's decision to enter into a damaging coalition with the Conservatives and supported full Home Rule for Scotland. He lost his seat in the 2015 election.
Paolo Tullio was a Michelin-starred chef who was born in England of Italian extraction and came to Ireland to study at Trinity College.
He made his name with his restaurant, Armstrong's Barn, in Annamoe, Co Wicklow. After he sold it in 2003, he turned his skills to food writing and was the resident food critic of the Irish Independent's Weekend magazine until his death on June 5 at the age of 66.
James (Hansi) Last was a colourful German band leader who was particularly popular in Ireland during the 1980s. Originally a jazz musician, he switched to the big band sound and the James Last Orchestra gained fame at home and abroad.
He produced 52 best-selling albums between 1967 and 1986 and his popularity continued well into the 1990s with a cult following. He died aged 86 on June 9 in Florida.
Jimmy Doyle was one of the giants of the golden era of Tipperary hurling. He won 10 senior county hurling medals with his club, Thurles Sarsfields, as well as three minor All-Ireland and six Senior All-Ireland medals with Tipperary.
He was one of the most lethal forwards ever seen in the game and was named as the right full forward on the Team of the Century in 2000. He died on June 22 at the age of 76.
Patrick Macnee, an Eton- educated actor, made his name as the dapper, bowler hat-wearing star of the long-running television series The Avengers, in which he played the unflappable John Steed opposite Diana Rigg and later Joanna Lumley in a revival of the far-fetched detective farce.
Macnee, who died on June 25 at the age of 93, was type-cast in the role, though he did appear briefly as James Bond's chauffeur in the 1985 movie View to a Kill among other bit parts.
Liam O Murchu, who died on June 28 at the age of 86, was a Cork-born former civil servant who was best-known for the RTE bi-lingual television programme Trom agus Eadrom, which ran from 1975 to 1986.
He was Head of Irish Language Programmes at RTE and became deputy director of the national broadcasting service.
The following also died during June: John Joe Nerney (93), former Roscommon football player; Thomas Flynn (83), Catholic Bishop of Achonry; Ron Moody (91), famous for his role as Fagin in the film Oliver.
Val Doonican was the smiling, jumper-wearing Irish charmer who made such improbable-sounding ballads as Paddy McGinty's Goat and Delaney's Donkey immensely popular through his television series, The Val Doonican Show, which ran on the BBC from 1965 to 1986.
He had five successive Top 10 albums in the 1960s, when he enchanted middle-aged middle-England while its sons and daughters were embracing rock and roll. Born Michael Valentine Doonican in Waterford, he died on July 1 at the age of 88.
Omar Sharif, a tall, handsome, moustachioed Egyptian, went for the part of Laurence of Arabia but lost out to Peter O'Toole. But director David Lean then cast him as Sharif Ali in the movie and it made him a star.
He later starred in Doctor Zhivago, winning a Golden Globe for best actor in 1965. An inveterate gambler who smoked 100 cigarettes a day for much of his life, he lost a great part of his fortune at French racetracks and casinos and ended up as a professional Bridge player, at which he excelled. He died in Cairo of a heart attack on July 10 at the age of 83.
EL Doctorow, the American author and academic, adopted the Joycean technique of placing real characters in fictional settings. His book Ragtime (1975) set at the beginning of the jazz age, was a massive best-seller and has become a classic of its kind. Born in the Bronx, he died in New York on July 21 aged 84.
Sir Peter O'Sullevan was a favourite racing commentator when the BBC had the monopoly on British racing. Born in Kenmare, Co Kerry, his easy manner and his knowledge of the turf endeared him to everybody from stable boys to royals.
He was the BBC's chief racing commentator for 50 years until his retirement in 1997. He also had the distinction of commentating as his own horse, Attivo, won the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in 1974. He died on July 29 at the age of 97.
The following also died during July: Dr John Hinds (35), motorcyclist killed during the Skerries 100 race in north Dublin; Alexis Fitzgerald (70), former Fine Gael TD and Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1982 when he married fellow TD Mary Flaherty.
Cilla Black, whose real name was Priscilla White, had Irish great grandparents on both her mother and father's side and grew up in the staunchly working class Glasgow Road area of Liverpool.
She began her career singing in the Cavern Club, where she worked as a waitress, between sets by The Beatles and was taken on by their manager, Brian Epstein. Her single, Anyone Who Had A Heart, was a huge hit and probably the biggest-selling single by a female singer in the 1960s.
Her career included hit TV programmes such as the variety show Cilla, Blind Date and Surprise Surprise. She died at her home in Estepona, Spain, of a stroke following a fall on August 1. She was 72.
George Cole was an English actor best-known for his role as the dodgy second-hand car dealer Arthur Daley in the television series Minder from 1979 to 1994.
Such was the influence of the series that "Arthur Daley" entered the language to describe an endearing if unreliable rogue who manages to get out of most of the scrapes he becomes involved in. He died on August 5 at the age of 90.
Dr Cyril Daly was a relentless campaigner against corporal punishment in Irish schools until it was finally abolished in 1982.
Originally from Co Cork, he grew up in Dublin and qualified as a general practitioner. His adroit use of the media brought the matter to public prominence and eventually corporal punishment in schools was banned by the Fine Gael Minister for Education John Boland. Dr Daly died on August 12, aged 82.
Adrian Hopkins was a well-known travel agent and sailing enthusiast from Bray, Co Wicklow, who gained international notoriety when he was arrested off the French coast skippering a freighter carrying 130 tons of Libyan armaments destined for the Provisional IRA.
It was the fifth such shipment from Colonel Gaddafi to the terrorist organisation. After skipping bail in France he was arrested in Limerick and sentenced to eight years in prison, with five years suspended. After his release he lived quietly in Greystones. He died of a heart attack on August 22 in Dublin at the age of 76.
The following also died during August: David Nobbs (80), author of the hit television series The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin; Mary Keane (86), Listowel publican and wife of playwright John B Keane; Wes Craven (75), film director, best-known for horror movie Scream; PJ Kavanagh (84), English-born poet with Irish connections.
Jim Stafford was a member of the wealthy shipping and coal-importing family from Wexford.
Single all his life, he lived for many years in a flat on Kildare Street, Dublin, and pursued various business investments including property and exploration. He was a director of Tony O'Reilly's company, Atlantic Resources. He was also one of the originally shareholders in Century Radio and friend of Charles Haughey. He died on August 12 at the age of 70.
Jackie Collins, the English novelist and sister of the actress Joan, moved to Los Angeles in the 1960s and perfected the "bonkbuster" novel with titles such as The World is Full of Married Men and The Stud.
All 32 of her novels appeared on the New York Times Best Seller lists and made her a very wealthy woman. She died of breast cancer on September 19 at the age of 77.
Judge Paul Carney, who died on September 24 at the age of 72, shortly after his retirement as the senior judge in the Circuit Criminal Court, presided over many of the most high-profile murder and rape cases in Ireland over the past two decades.
He was widely respected as fair, though he had an eccentric attachment to outdated court procedure. A colourful character, he was politically aligned with the Progressive Democrats and acted as election agent for its leader, Des O'Malley.
The following also died in September: Frank Brennan (67), widely-respected economist and tax consultant; Liam Healy (86), former chief executive of Independent Newspapers; Pat Dunne, who played in goal for Everton, Manchester United and Ireland, died at the age of 72
Brian Friel was the best-known Irish dramatist of his generation. Although his most successful plays, Philadelphia Here I Come (1964), Translations (1980) and Dancing at Lughnasa (1990), were rooted in the Irish rural landscape where he lived most of his life, they received international acclaim, particularly on Broadway.
Self-effacing by nature, Friel was born in Co Tyrone, trained for the priesthood in Maynooth and later qualified as a teacher in Belfast. He moved to Donegal in 1960 and spent the remainder of his life there between forays to the US to study or oversee productions of his plays.
In 1980 he founded the Field Day theatre company with the actor Stephen Rea to produce plays, books and pamphlets. He was appointed to the Senate in 1987 by the then Taoiseach Charles Haughey and was a member of the artistic organisation Aosdana.
Impresario Noel Pearson turned Dancing At Lughnasa into a film starring Hollywood actress Meryl Streep. Brian Friel died of cancer at his home in Donegal at the age of 86 on October 2.
Denis Healey, whose grandfather Will was an Irish Fenian emigrant from Enniskillen, was a prominent member of the British Labour Party for most of his life.
He memorably replied to a verbal taunting by Geoffrey Howe in 1973 by saying that it was "like being savaged by a dead sheep". He was Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1974 to 1975. Denis Healey died at the age of 86 on October 3.
Prof Austin Darragh was a medical doctor and businessman best known as "The Doctor" on Gay Byrne's RTE radio show for many years.
He was also a very successful entrepreneur who founded the Institute of Clinical Pharmacology and had a keen interest in show-jumping. His son, the late Paul Darragh, was a prominent member of the Irish international show jumping team. Austin Darragh died on October 4 at the age of 88.
Henning Mankell, the Swedish crime writer whose taciturn and often semi-depressed anti-hero Inspector Kurt Wallander gained an international audience, was the godfather of Nordic noir.
Mankell worked as an actor and theatre director and spent part of his life in Mozambique. As a writer, he attempted to escape the clutches of his creation, but none of his other work lived up to the icy realism of the Wallander series. He died on October 5, aged 67.
John O'Leary, a veteran Fianna Fail TD for South Kerry from 1966 to 1977, was a minister of state during the Jack Lynch era but fell out of favour with his successor, Charles Haughey. He died on October 5 at the age of 82, shortly after the publication of his memoirs.
Krish Naidoo was a South African of Indian extraction who came to Ireland to study medicine after failing to make it as a professional footballer with Tottenham Hotspur.
He became involved in the nightclub and entertainment industry and went on to own the franchise for the Miss Ireland competition from 1980 to 1996 and later acted as an ambassador for the Miss World beauty pageant. He died of a heart condition on October 9 at the age of 72.
Maureen O'Hara, who died at the age of 95 in California, was best-known for her portrayal of Mary Kate Danaher opposite John Wayne in The Quiet Man, the John Ford classic filmed in Cong, Co Mayo, in 1951.
Born in Ranelagh, Dublin, she was a child actress with the Abbey Theatre before moving to Hollywood in 1939. She played in a succession of films including Jamaica Inn, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Miracle on 34th Street before retiring in 1971 after Big Jake, in which she also played opposite John Wayne. (She returned in 1991 to appear in Only The Lonely).
In the meantime, she lived between homes in Glengarriff, Co Cork, and the United States. She was married three times and had one daughter, Bronwyn. She was presented with an honorary Oscar at the Academy Awards last year. She died on October 24 and is buried in Arlington Cemetery.
The following also died during October: Hugh Cooney (63), businessman and former chairman of Enterprise Ireland; Howard Kendall (69), British football manager; Peter Barrett (59), Church of Ireland bishop of Cashel and Ossory.
Joe Ainsworth, known as Two Gun Joe because he was reputed to carry two revolvers, rose through the ranks of An Garda Siochana to become Deputy Garda Commissioner.
During the turbulent political era of the early 1980s he was drawn into tapping the telephones of two prominent journalists, Bruce Arnold and Geraldine Kennedy, at the behest of Minister for Justice Sean Doherty. Mr Doherty later claimed he was acting on instructions from Taoiseach Charles Haughey, who was attempting to find a "mole" in his cabinet.
Following the change of administration and an investigation into the legality of the phone taps, Ainsworth and Garda Commissioner Patrick McLaughlin resigned their positions in 1983. Ainsworth died at his home in Dublin on November 5 at the age of 88.
Pat Eddery, the Kildare-born jockey from a family of 13, died on November 10 at the age of 63 after a long battle with alcoholism.
A superb flat-racing jockey, he rode 4,632 winners during his career, including three Epsom Derby winners and four Arc de Triomphe winners and was a very successful stable jockey to Vincent O'Brien and Ballydoyle. He rode his first race at the Curragh in 1987 and won the jockey championship in Britain 11 times before retiring in 2003. Although close friends knew of his drink problem, it was only after his death that his daughter Natasha revealed how alcoholism had torn the family apart.
Warren Mitchell, a talented comic actor, was best-known for the television series Till Death Us Do Part, in which he played the bigoted English soccer supporter Alf Garnett. The series ran from 1966 to 1975.
Mitchell was a versatile actor who played many roles in sit-coms and films, but none eclipsed his performance as the politically incorrect Garnett. Mitchell died on November 14 at the age of 89.
Adele Mailer was the second wife of volatile American writer Normal Mailer, author of The Naked and the Dead.
He persuaded her to join his hedonistic life with the result that the New York-born painter became an alcoholic. She continued for a time to live as his wife knowing he was having an affair with Lady Colin Campbell (a daughter of the Duke of Argyll and the third of his six wives).
She died in New York on November 22 at the age of 90 having chronicled their stormy marriage in her memoir The Last Party.
Jonah Lomu, a formidable New Zealand rugby player of Maori extraction, was the youngest ever All Black when he got his first cap shortly after his 19th birthday.
A fearsome spectacle performing the haka or bulldozing his way over the try line with opposition players hanging out of him, he played in 63 internationals, scoring 37 tries. He died of kidney failure on November 18 at the age of 40.
Cynthia Payne, better known as Madam Cyn, was a British brothel-keeper and party hostess who died on November 15 at the age of 82.
Sir Robert Ford was Commander of British Land Forces in Northern Ireland on January 30, 1972 when 13 people were shot dead by British troops during a civil rights march in Derry - a day now remembered as Bloody Sunday.
Originally from Devon, he was a career soldier who was posted to Northern Ireland where he privately advocated shooting selected "ringleaders" among what he called "Derry's young hooligans". He relinquished his command in April 1973. He died on November 24 at the age of 91.
Fr Gerry Reynolds, originally from Co Limerick, was a Redemptorist priest attached to Clonard Monastery in Belfast. Described as the "unsung hero" of the Peace Process, he played a vital role in the years of negotiations that eventually led to the IRA ceasefire, working with Fr Alex Reid and Fr Des Wilson. He died on November 30 at the age of 82.
The following also died during November: Andy White (85), briefly replaced Ringo Starr as drummer in the Beatles; Sean Egan (56), former chairman of Rehab Group; Allen Toussaint (77), New Orleans singer whose best-known hit was Southern Nights. Keith Michell (89), lauded for his performance as Henry VIII on stage and screen; Melissa Mathinson (65), actor who had one of the most famous one-liners in film: "ET, phone home."
Tomas F O Cofaigh was unknown outside a small coterie of influential public servants and bankers, though millions of people would have seen his signature on the old Irish pound note.
A career public servant from Swanlinbar, Co Cavan, he became Secretary of the Department of Finance and Governor of the Central Bank at a time when the holders of such positions were shrouded in mystery and shunned publicity. He was also president of the ESRI and influential in ensuring the success of the International Financial Services Centre in Dublin. He died on December 4 at the age of 92.
William McIlvanney was a Scottish writer and author of three "remarkable" crime novels featuring detective Jack Laidlaw. He died on December 5 at the age of 79.
Nicholas Smith, who died at the age of 81 on December 6, was a Shakespearean actor who gained widespread fame as Mr Rumbold, the inept manager of the Grace Brothers department store, in Are You Being Served.
Bishop Dermot O'Mahony was Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin (1975-1996) whose reputation was "heavily tarnished" after he was criticised in the Murphy Report on sexual abuse by priests. Dr O'Mahony died on December 10 at the age of 80.
The following also died during December: Scott Weiland (48), rock singer best-known as the lead singer with the band Stone Temple Pilots; Jimmy Hill (87), TV presenter who was the face of Match of the Day for many years; Mick Lynch (55), Cork-born singer whose quirky rock outfit Stump made us smile in the 1980s; Don Howe (80), West Brom, Arsenal and England football player, coach, manager and pundit.