Monday 21 August 2017

Kay Farrell

Leading light of amateur theatre who brought drama to local audiences as both an actress and a director

"Fair as the blossoms that bloom in the May, an' sweet as the scent of the new-mown hay ... ." Juno and the Paycock, Sean O'Casey

A LEADING light of amateur theatre in Dublin Kay Farrell (nee Carragher) passed away on Easter Saturday. Kay was well known as an actress, director and great supporter of the theatrical scene in Dublin.

She was born into the family home, The Arcade Bar, in Marlborough Street in 1931 moving later to Crumlin, via Rathmines during the Forties. It was while at St Louis' School in Rathmines that Kay fell in love with music and drama by participating in many Feis Ceoil.

The first theatre group Kay joined was Kevin Byrne's Masque Theatre, at which time they performed Gilbert & Sullivan greats such as The Mikado and Iolanthe. It was during the latter that Kay learned the golden rule of theatre that the show must go on by living up to the words of the song Tripping Hither, Tripping Thither and falling straight into the footlights but gallantly picking herself up to begin the song again.

In 1952, she was invited to audition for Pioneer M&D Society's pantomime for that year's performance of Rumpelstiltskin and it was with PMDS that Kay broadened her experience by appearing in plays such as Peg O' My Heart, Twenty Years A' Wooing and musicals such as Rose Marie, The Geisha and Sunny.

Having rested during the Sixties, she returned to performing in the Seventies when she joined Anthos Players and the Whitehall Musical Society. With Anthos, Kay is best remembered for her role as "the daaarlin' woman" Maisie Madigan in Juno and the Paycock at the Royal Hotel Theatre in Howth in 1974.

Towards the end of the Eighties, Kay turned her attention to directing and began to encourage emerging playwrights which resulted in her winning the Best Producer Award twice in RTE's PJ O'Connor Radio Drama Awards. The last two decades saw her final group, On Stage Productions, bring comedy to the Regency Hotel with productions of Try Anything Twice, Silver Wedding, There Goes the Bride and The Cemetery Club.

In spite of illness during the last six years, Kay continued to work with different groups, putting shows and plays together and more recently although in her late seventies, she worked with Near FM to bring drama to local radio in north Dublin.

Kay loved to encourage and share her knowledge and experience with new writers and actors. She had a great rapport with everyone she worked with due to her bubbly and vivacious nature and she always upheld the maxim that while the group might be amateur, the performance should always be professional.

Kay is survived by her husband Jimmy, daughter Lorraine and son David.

Sunday Independent

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