Friday 27 April 2018

Mick leaves mourners wanting more

Stars of theatre and TV pay their tributes

HE was the actor who always left his audience wanting more -- and this was no exception.

Mick Lally played his final act yesterday as he was given a poignant and heartfelt send-off by his family and legions of friends in glorious sunshine in Dublin.

And despite his famous 'Glenroe' catchphrase, "Holy God" was in short supply as the committed atheist was honoured at a non-religious funeral at Newlands Cross Crematorium.

In an emotional tribute, Darach Lally, who inherited his father's distinctive flowing curls, acknowledged the wider grief at the legendary actor's sudden passing, saying: "I think a nation is missing its favourite uncle.

"They say a good performer always leaves his audience wanting more. That tells you all you need to know about this man here. Personally, I want more.

"If you're half as popular in the place you're going to as you were here, you'll be all right," he told his dad.

He recalled Lally's up-bringing on the family farm in Tourmakeady in Co Mayo -- where hard work was the order of the day -- and how, after that, he could have been forgiven for settling for the relatively secure life as a teacher. However, his father had other ideas.

"Ease and comfort never motivated him. His motivation was finding a path of his own," explained Darach.

In the summer of 1975, Mick embarked on a different career trajectory. Along with his university friends Garry Hynes and Marie Mullin, he founded the now internationally renowned Druid Theatre Company in Galway.

In her tribute, Ms Hynes told mourners the three friends were "bonded inextricably together" through their shared love of the works of John M Synge.

"The places I was most happy with Mick were in a rehearsal room, around his dinner table or my dinner table," she said.

"While he had the most extraordinary sense of fun... he also took life really seriously and used his position as a person of influence to champion those causes and people he believed in."

However, she elicited roars of laughter when she recalled how Mr Lally could also be "cranky and cantankerous".

She confessed: "The person I liked to have rows most with is Mick."

Hundreds of mourners, including many from the worlds of theatre and television, had gathered outside the crematorium long before the hearse arrived shortly after 2pm, accompanied by a garda escort. They burst into applause as the actor's simple pine coffin was brought into the building.

Among those in attendance were Brendan Gleeson, who starred with Mr Lally in the Oscar-nominated animation film 'The Secret of Kells', and actors Stephen Rea, Frank Kelly and Sean McGinley.

A host of Lally's 'Glenroe' co-stars also said their goodbyes to the man who became synonymous with his character of Miley -- among them his screen wife Mary McEvoy, Geraldine Plunkett, Robert Carrickford, Eunice MacMenamin and William Heffernan.

Actor and director Alan Stanford, who played the character of George in the long-running soap, also attended the funeral, as did the director of the Abbey Theatre, Fiach Mac Conghail.

Other mourners included Micheal O Muircheartaigh, Paidi O Se, RTE director-general Cathal Goan, the station's head of television Glen Killane and presenter Sile Seoige.

Culture Minister Mary Hanafin and the Taoiseach's aide-de-camp, Commandant Michael Treacy, offered their condolences to Lally's wife Peige and his children Saileog, Maghnus and Darach.

Lally is also survived by his mother May; sisters Teresa, Marie, Sarah, Nuala and Rita; and brother, Tomas. Mourners heard that his 97-year-old father, Tommy, was unable to make the trip to Dublin yesterday.

A Gaeltacht man, Lally's love of the Irish language and culture was reflected with tributes as Gaeilge from his friends Marie Mullin and Mairtin Jamesie, as well as sean nos song and music.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News