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Emer O’Kelly: A great character of the theatre scene bows out peacefully

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Actor Vincent Dowling at Dublin's Customs House.

Photo: Tony Gavin 22/2/08

Actor Vincent Dowling at Dublin's Customs House. Photo: Tony Gavin 22/2/08

Actor Vincent Dowling at Dublin's Customs House. Photo: Tony Gavin 22/2/08

A former actress who knew him well always refers to Vincent Dowling as "Old Truth and Beauty". Vincent was very fond of looking soulful and uttering slightly cliche-ridden statements of profound wisdom: it was rather endearing. And of course, like many people given to projecting a slightly other-worldly exterior, he was as tough as the cliche-ridden old boots.

He died on Thursday in Massachusetts, where he had lived for a number of years. He was 83, and laden with well-deserved honours earned in his long life in the theatre, which began in the Abbey Theatre in 1953. In the United States where he had lived since the early Seventies, he is best known for his association with Synge's work, particularly The Playboy of the Western World, while his artistic directorship of Ontario's Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival, where he served from 1974 to 1986, is remembered with both respect and fondness.


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