Thursday 19 September 2019

Stage and screen stars bid farewell to Donall

Liam Collins

Liam Collins

fAMOUS faces from the worlds of theatre and television joined family and friends at the funeral of Donall Farmer, RTE's former head of drama, who was probably best known as Fr Tim Devereux, the parish priest "with the kindly face" in the long-running television series Glenroe.

Donall's daughter Orla told mourners at his funeral in Terenure yesterday that when the distinctive theme tune played on a Sunday night the family sat down to watch the programme like most Irish households at the time.

"He was very proud of the part he played," she said.

Orla Farmer said the family had been overcome by the tributes paid to her father, who died last Thursday, aged 81, and his influence on drama in Ireland over the last 50 years.

Donall Farmer was born in Blackpool, Cork, "the real capital", as he called it, and attended the North Mon (Monastery) and University College Cork.

He worked in Henry Ford - and his daughter Orla said he had also claimed to be pork-pie maker and goatherd before joining the Everyman Theatre in Cork.

He was an Irish speaker and a great promoter of Gaelic drama and language, and in his last days reverted to the language completely.

His career at RTE began with the opening of the station in 1964 and he won Jacob's Awards in 1969 and 1996.

He was appointed head of drama at the station in 1971 where he directed more than 50 episodes of The Riordans. He returned as a full-time actor in 1978, playing in such dramas as Strumpet City, Glenroe, Ballykissangel and Remington Steele.

"He was a complex, multi-faceted man. He could be difficult - he was an actor after all," said his daughter. But he loved family, poetry, music, art and golf.

Donall Farmer's funeral mass in St Joseph's Church, Terenure, was celebrated by Monsignor Ciaran O Mearain.

Among the mourners were actors Stephen Brennan, John Kavanagh, Enda Oates and Charlie Byrne.

RTE colleagues who attended included Maura Connolly, formerly of The Late Late Show, ex-assistant director general Bobby Gahan, former presenter Rodney Rice and Kevin Reynolds, of the drama department.

Donall Farmer is survived by his wife Eileen, three children and their extended families, six grandchildren as well as other relatives and friends, including Colette.

Sunday Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News