Tuesday 21 August 2018

'We are all shocked' - Former Fair City co-stars pay tribute to Alan O'Neill

Actor Alan O'Neill, known for his work on
Actor Alan O'Neill, known for his work on "Sons of Anarchy", has passed away in Los AngelesPhoto by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Sean O'Grady and Ryan Nugent

Many Irish actors have paid tribute to Alan O’Neill, who passed away on Wednesday at the age of 47.

Best known for his role as Hugh on Sons of Anarchy, the actor also appeared on RTE soap Fair City for several years.

His Fair City co-star Maclean Burke, who plays Damien Halpin, said he was always a pleasure to be around.

“It’s desperately sad. We are all shocked. I worked with Alan for about ten years and we had some good times. It’s very unfortunate. 

“He was always fun, great fun. He was very upbeat. He was always very fun to be around on set,” he told independent.ie.

Claudia Carroll, who plays Nicola Prendergast on the series, said she was shocked by the news and also mentioned fellow Fair City actor Stephen Swift who passed away on Tuesday, aged 44.

“I just heard the news and I am utterly shocked between that and Stephen Swift,” she said.

“There are no words. I am so sorry, I am shocked. They were much loved and much respected.

“It’s just sad to hear of anyone young passing. Life can be very cruel sometimes.”

Former Fair City actress Caroline Grace-Cassidy, who played Aoife Coleman, said that while she didn’t do many scenes with O’Neill, she had met him at a number of functions down the years.

“It’s horrendously tragic, a brilliant actor. He went out and did the whole LA thing and tried to follow the dream, so it’s really sad. He was doing well,” she said.

“The last time I met Alan was when Tom Cruise was over here, he did a big thing for the Oblivion premiere and a big after party at the Convention Centre and he hung out with myself and Susan Loughnane that night, we’d a good laugh with him. So that’s probably about four years ago I’d say.

“He was just a very outgoing, chirpy, really, really happy-go-lucky kind of guy,” she added.

Actor Wesley Doyle, known to viewers as Doug Ferguson, starred alongside O’Neill in the series for many years.

The two men’s characters worked in the Carrigstown garage.

Doyle said acting alongside Alan was an education.

“I started out in Fair City when I was 15 and a little Ballymun-er – I felt like a sore thumb on set but he always made me feel comfortable. He said ‘relax you’re one of us’.

“There was no nicer person you could work with. He was like a mentor and a role model and I learnt a lot from him.

“I had the utmost respect for him and was devastated when he left the series. We had great craic on set .”

Doyle added he was shocked when he heard news of O’Neill’s death. “No one expects that.”

O'Neill played the character of Keith McGrath in the soap for 70 episodes from 2006 to 2012.

An autopsy is due to be carried out, with his death not being treated as suspicious.

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