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Saturday 20 October 2018

Irish actress Bairbre Dowling (62) dies after short illness

Bairbre Dowling
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Irish actress Bairbre Dowling has passed away aged 62 following a short illness.

The actress, who lived in Manhattan, died on January 20.

Born into a theatrical family in Dublin on March 27,1953, Bairbre Patricia Dowling, was the daughter of actors Vincent Dowling and Brenda Doyle.

As a child in Dublin she trained as a dancer but also worked as an actress from an early age.

Beginning her film career in 1963 in Francis Ford Copolla’s first feature film Demential 13, she later became well known for her work as Josie Tracy in one of Ireland’s longest running television series, The Riordans.

She arrived in America in 1977 to work at The Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival in Cleveland Ohio, where Vincent Dowling served as Artistic Director. She played in numerous Shakespeare and classical productions including the American Premiere of Nicholas Nickleby.

Equally at home in comedy or drama, her breadth of characterizations from Peg in Peg O’ My Heart,to Ophelia, Beatrice, and Pegeen Mike in the Emmy Award winning Playboy of the Western World, among others, remain forever in the hearts of her audiences and the actors with whom she worked.

On Broadway Bairbre played Mary Tate in Hugh Leonard’s DA. She also worked regularly Off-Broadway and in regional theatres.

Filmwork includes John Boorman’s Zardoz, John Huston’s The Dead, among others.

She was married to Irish actor Colm Meaney between 1982-1994. They have one daughter, actress Brenda Meaney.

A talented writer, Bairbre is known to her friends for her humorous and lyrical stories about growing up in Dublin.

An ardent Actors Equity and SAG- AFTRA member, she was a fierce defender of unions and the working class– particularly artists.

"Though she appeared in both film and television her first love was always the theatre," he sister Val Dowling told

"American theatre audiences and all the many actors and directors she worked with were greatly blessed by the endearing, enduring presence of the Irish beauty."

Bairbre is survived by her daughter, Brenda Meaney of Manhattan, sisters Valerie Dowling of Los Angeles, Rachael Dowling of Dublin, brothers Cian Dowling and Richard Boyd Barrett, stepmother Olwen Dowling, and beloved nieces and nephews –Emmett and Aine O’Regan; Saoirse, William and Aodhan Hinksmon; and Rowan Dowling-Mahoney.

She is pre-deceased by Louise Dowling, Vincent Dowling and Brenda Doyle.

The funeral for Bairbre Dowling will be held Friday, January 29th at 10:45 am at Greenwich Village Funeral Home, 199 Bleecker Street, NYC 10012.

In lieu of flowers Memorial Donations can be made to: The Actors Fund, 729 Seventh Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10019 or the Creutzfeldt–Jakob Disease (CJD) Foundation , 341 W. 38th Street, Suite 501, New York, NY 10018

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