Ray McBride was born in Bohermore, the son of Bobby and Kathleen. He was educated in the Claddagh National School and in Saint Mary’s College. He was always very athletic and tried his hand at a number of sports. He was no good at rugby and his Gaelic football career was cut short by a broken wrist, but he was a nifty soccer player.
He was a very good Irish dancer. His first teacher was Rita White in Sea Road, and later he went to classes with Peggy Carty and Mairead O’Flaherty. He danced at feiseanna all over the country and won a number of All Ireland medals. He and his sister Margaret made a formidable dancing partnership.
His great sport was athletics which was nurtured at St Mary’s. He was awarded a scholarship to East Tennessee State University and while he was there his athletics career really took off. He won a gold medal in the 3,000 metres steeplechase in the Catholic Student Games in Madrid, and later won gold medals in the 800 metres and the 1,500 metres in the Tailteann Games in Dublin.
While he was in Tennessee he studied speech and drama and fell in love with acting. His first major part was taking the lead in a production of The Playboy of the Western World in the Barton Theatre in Avondale, Virginia. He eventually returned to Galway and applied to the relatively new group known as Druid for a part in a play, and happily he was successful. Thus began a major career in theatre, film, and television. Thousands will remember him for the great number of varied parts he played in Druid such as Conversations on a Homecoming (‘You are only a bunch of Keys’ ), Island Protected by a Bridge of Glass, The Wood of the Whispering, A Galway Girl, etc. His athleticism, his versatility, his timing, his choreography, his vocal range, and his ability to speak in the ‘flahhest Gaulwah accint’ won him many plaudits and many parts. Our photograph today shows him in the part of Brian in Song of the Yellow Bittern in Druid.
Ray also appeared in many television productions such as Ballykissangel, and his list of film parts is also impressive... Angela’s Ashes, Into the West, Guiltrip, Reefer and the Model, The Bishop’s Story, and one I somehow missed myself intriguingly titled There’s a Hole in the Ozone Layer just above Clonboo.
Sadly, in recent times Ray has been confined to a wheelchair by a debilitating illness and is unable to leave home without assistance. This has in no way diminished his spirit. A group of his friends has got together to change all that by organising a race night, which will take place in E Brun’s in Dominick Street on Sunday night at 9pm, to raise funds to buy a state-of-the-art motorised wheelchair to allow Ray the freedom to roam his native city. If you cannot make it to the event you can help by making a donation. Contact Brendan O’Shaughnessy at (087 ) 260 8595 or send a contribution to The Ray McBride Fund, St Anthony’s and Claddagh Credit Union, Mainguard Street or Westside, Galway.
Finally, our congratulations to Macnas for what for me was their best parade yet... mayhem, music, moving light, and magic on the streets of Galway. It was wonderful. And our congratulations also to the staff of the city council who had those streets impeccably cleaned up very early on Monday morning. Well done, one and all.