'A fine actor and terribly nice man': Tributes paid to Dónall Farmer

Tributes have been paid to the actor and director Dónall Farmer, who has died aged 81.

The Cork native, best known for his role as Glenroe’s parish priest, Fr Tim Devereux, was also a former Head of Drama at RTÉ, and one of the founders of the Everyman Palace Theatre.

A UCC graduate, Mr Farmer spent time in Britain before returning to his native Cork to teach at the Presentation Brothers, where he had gone to school.

“I went to work as a teacher in Birmingham. I worked as a pork-pie maker, a goat herd. I worked at anything that would postpone doing a long-avoided MA degree,” he told the Cork Examiner in 1984.

It was during this spell in Cork, prior to moving to Dublin to join RTÉ, that Mr Farmer became involved in the Everyman.

Denis McSweeney Chair of the Everyman Palace said the theatre learned of Mr Farmer’s passing with “deep regret” and offered his family and friends their sympathies.

“Dónall was a member of Everyman Theatre from its foundation,” Mr McSweeney said.

“During his years at UCC, he was involved in drama with John O’Shea and Prof Sean Ó Tuama, particularly in the latter’s Irish language plays. This lead to the founding of Compántas Chorcaighe, which became a constituent part of the Everyman Theatre in the mid-1960s.

[social=twiiter]https://twitter.com/EverymanCork/status/1070748188309680129[/social]

“Donal was a powerful actor who commanded the stage with a fire and an intensity. He memorably played Poor Bitos in Jean Anouilh’s play for Everyman at the Little Theatre in Castle St, Cork.

“His move to Dublin to join the national broadcaster lead to the great career which he enjoyed and the enrichment of theatre and drama life in this country on radio, television and stage.

He carried the love of the Irish language with him on his journey and, dare we say, with others, ensured it a salient place in the broadcaster’s consciousness as well as its constant celebration on the stages of the national theatre.

In many ways, we, in Everyman and our audiences, enjoy the legacy of the pioneering foundational work lovingly done by our predecessors, like Dónall, in setting this project on its path over fifty years ago.

Mr Farmer played Keever in RTÉ’s landmark adaptation of James Plunkett’s 1913 lockout novel ‘Strumpet City’, and appeared in shows such as Remington Steele and Ballykissangel.

He also served as a producer on The Riordans - the RTÉ soap that was the forerunner for Glenroe, for which Mr Farmer will be best remembered by audiences.

Mario Rosenstock, who played vet David Hanlon in Glenroe, tweeted that Mr Farmer was “a fine actor and terribly nice man”.


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