Outpouring of sympathy following death of legendary actor Mick Lally

There was widespread outpourings of sympathy this week following the death on Tuesday of Tourmakeady native Mick Lally. Lally, who was 64, died in hospital in Dublin on Tuesday following a short illness. His funeral service took place in Newlands Cross crematorium chapel at 2pm yesterday, Thursday. He is survived by his wife Peggy and three children, Saileog, Darach, and Maghnus.

The Mayo native studied Irish and history at UCG in the 1960s before starting his career as teacher. He taught in Tuam for six years before moving into acting, rising to national attention in Brian Friel’s play Translations in 1980. He was a founder member of the Druid Theatre Company in Galway, in 1975 alongside Garry Hynes and Marie Mullen, before becoming well known throughout Ireland for his performances as Miley Byrne in RTÉ programmes Bracken and Glenroe, which made him a household name. Lally, who was a fluent Irish speaker having grown up in the Gaeltacht area of Tourmakeady, also recently appeared in TG4’s Ros na Rún, as well as in numerous stage productions over recent years.

He was described as “an iconic figure who did the county proud,” by the Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Cllr Michael Burke. “Mayo people felt a great sense of pride in Mick Lally’s achievements,” Cllr Burke added. “He was a superb actor, and he was also a beautiful speaker of the Irish language. He never lost the common touch, and was a much-loved figure in his home place of Tourmakeady.

“Mick Lally was an iconic figure who did the county proud. The news of his death has come as a great shock to the people of Mayo, and, on their behalf, I extend my deepest sympathy to his wife Peggy, their children Saileog, Darach, and Maghnus, and their wide circle of family and friends.”

Tributes poured in from the world of politics and the arts with Taoiseach Brian Cowen saying, “he was one of the most loved actors of his generation and will be dearly missed by the public and his colleagues in theatre and television. Versatile in both the Irish and English languages, his genius at capturing and portraying the essence of the characters he played brought him wide popular and critical acclaim.” Mary Hanafin, Minister for Tourism, Culture, and Sport, said Mick Lally’s contribution to the theatrical world has been immense.

“Whether he was voicing Keane, Synge, or indeed Burrows, his was a distinctive, inimitable contribution to our stage and screen craft,” Minister Hanafin said.

“His wonderful ability to communicate with his audiences whether in the intimate setting in the early days of Druid, on stage in the National Theatre, or in the sitting rooms of homes every Sunday for over 10 years playing the character of Miley in Glenroe, Mick Lally was an integral part of the world of acting and, by extension, our society. His rich, distinctive, tones were at home too in the Irish language and theatregoers from the Abbey to the Taibhdhearc will have wonderful memories of the man from Tourmakeady. A testimony to his prowess as an actor was that he could resonate across the generations – with the theatre community, the television and film world and, with very notable success, with the young generation of The Secret of Kells, this year’s Oscar nominee. Mick was a versatile actor and although associated forever with Miley, was never one to be typecast.”

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