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Thursday 18 January 2018

Abbey leads tributes as actress Masterson dies

Actress Ronnie Masterson
Actress Ronnie Masterson
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

THE Abbey Theatre has led tributes to actress Ronnie Masterson, the mother of RTE broadcaster Aonghus McAnally, who died on Monday night.

Masterson, whose career spanned over eight decades, trained at the Irish School of Acting at the Abbey Theatre after the managing director of the theatre, Ernest Blythe, spotted her performing at a feis in Dublin.

Her reputation as an outstanding actress was cemented in July 1970 when she played the title role in 'Big Maggie' at Dublin's Olympia Theatre and received glowing reviews.

Director of the Abbey Theatre Fiach Mac Conghail said Masterson – who was born in Dublin in 1926 – would be "missed by her many friends and colleagues".

"The theatre world salutes this wonderful lady and accomplished actor. Ronnie will be missed by her many friends and colleagues in the theatre community," he said.

Masterson, who appeared most recently in Neil Jordan's 'Byzantium', began her professional career at The Abbey in 1944 appearing in a series of Irish-language plays. While working at Ireland's National Theatre she met her husband Ray McAnally.

The pair later left The Abbey Theatre to establish their own theatre company, Old Quay Productions, together.

Masterson worked consistently throughout her life but may be best known for her role as Grandma Sheehan in 'Angela's Ashes'.

"I wasn't a huge fan of the book," she said. "But I liked the character and I had the best lines in it."

Masterson and McAnally had four children together: Conor, Maire, Niamh and Aonghus.

RTE broadcaster Aonghus McAnally was attending the opening night of 'Evita' at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre when his mother died.

"Sad news tonight," he said on Twitter after hearing the news.

"My beautiful mother, the brilliant actress Ronnie Masterson, passed away at 7.30pm. Rest in peace, mam."

Mr McAnally spent the rest of the night at his mother's bedside "smiling and crying".

Many of Mr McAnally's friends have offered their support and sympathy, which he described as "uplifting".

Irish Independent

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