Sunday 18 March 2018

Proud Irishman's gra for language took centre stage

Fiach MacChongail

Mick Lally was a passionate Irishman who channelled his love of language and learning into his stage work.

Having started with Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe before co-founding Druid Theatre Company, he always understood the need the balance his screen work with acting on stage. He was comfortable working in either Irish or English and he leaves behind him a body of work that illustrates just that, including 'Poitin' and 'Ballroom of Romance'.

I know Mick as a 'fear Gaeltachta' (a Gaeltacht man) who was proud of his Mayo roots and of our first language. We hardly ever spoke English to each other, it would seem odd to.

As well as his long-standing relationship with Garry Hynes and Druid, Mick acted in more than 20 productions at the Abbey Theatre, including plays by Sean O'Casey, Brian Friel, MJ Molloy and Tom Murphy.

It should also be acknowledged that he created the role of Manus in Brian Friel's masterpiece 'Translations' for Field Day Company.

I remember bumping into him on a regular basis around Dublin as he cycled from rehearsal room to theatre, wearing a hat to avoid the Miley Byrne fan club.

We stopped each other to talk about weather, poetry and family. He was a man of letters, a 'saoi'.

We last worked together at the Abbey Theatre on Tom Murphy's 'The Last Days of a Reluctant Tyrant'.

We whispered and chuckled together as Gaeilge as he was proud to be back at the Abbey Theatre with us. He will be missed by the theatre community and the actors in particular.

Ni bheidh a leithead aris ann.

Fiach MacConghail is director of the Abbey Theatre

Irish Independent

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