Obituaries — the people we said farewell to in 2015
Life & Style

Obituaries — the people we said farewell to in 2015


WE said farewell in 2015 to playwrights, sports figures, community activists, showbusiness people, politicians, priests, writers — and of course many unsung heroes of our community. We pay tribute to some of them here...

Ronnie Carroll

Born Belfast, August 18, 1934

Ronnie Carroll, born Ronnie Cleghorn, represented Britain twice in the Eurovision Song Contest (4th place each time), and throughout the 1950s-1960s enjoyed a successful singing career.

In 1974 Carroll was declared bankrupt. Undaunted, he opened a food stall at Camden market, London, selling hamburgers and sausages. He stood in the British general election in 1997 under the banner of the Emerald Rainbow Islands Dream Ticket party, gaining 141 votes.

Ronnie Caroll died on April 13, 2015 aged 80.

Joe Campbell

Born Co. Tyrone, July 22, 1923

Joe Campbell was a farmer who played a key part in the development of the civil rights movement in the North. His occupation of a house in Caledon in 1968 in protest at sectarian bias in the allocation of housing is seen as a key moment in recent Northern Irish history.

Campbell was also a founding member of Brantry GAA club, and encouraged opening up the club hall to the wider community, not just Catholics.

He died on October 20, 2015, aged 92.

Derek Davis

Born Bangor, Co. Down, April 26, 1948

RTÉ newscaster, sometime presenter of the Rose of Tralee and showband performer, Derek Davis was best known latterly as a talk show presenter and quizmaster.

He died May 13, 2015.

Val Doonican — one of Ireland's first international superstars. Picture: Getty Images Val Doonican — one of Ireland's first international superstars. Picture: Getty Images

Val Doonican

Born Waterford, February 3, 1927

Singer, entertainer and television personality, Val Doonican had an easy charm that appeared to seduce most of middle England. From the mid 1960s to the mid 1970s Doonican was rarely out of the charts or off the television screen. At his peak, his TV shows attracted audiences of some 19 million viewers.

Val Doonican died July 1, 1915, aged 88.

Pat Dunne

Born Dublin, February 9, 1943

International goalkeeper Pat Dunne, made 45 appearances for Manchester United, 152 appearances for Plymouth Argyle and 159 appearances for Shamrock Rovers. He also gained five Irish caps.

He died on September 25, aged 72.

Pat Eddery

Born Newbridge, Co. Kildare, March 18, 1952

The flat racing jockey and horse trainer rode three winners of the Epsom Derby, and was Champion Jockey on eleven occasions. He is co-holder of the record for most wins in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Pat Eddery died on November 10, 2015 aged 63. He is survived by his former wife, two daughters and a son.

Brian Friel

Born Killyclogher, Co Tyrone, January 9, 1929

Brian Friel is Ireland’s most important playwright since Samuel Beckett. His works included Translations, Philadelphia Here I Come and Dancing at Lughnasa.

He died on October 2, 2015 aged 86, survived by his wife Anne Morrison, along with three daughters and a son.

Jim McCann

Born Dublin, October 26, 1944

Guitarist and singer Jim McCann was a solo artist throughout most of his career, but joined The Dubliners in 1974, staying with them until 1979. He rejoined the band in 2002 for their 40th anniversary album.

Jim McCann died on March 5, 2015.

Geraldine McEwan — actress with strong Irish roots. Picture: Getty Images Geraldine McEwan — actress with strong Irish roots. Picture: Getty Images

Geraldine McEwan

Born London, May 9, 1932

Geraldine McEwan enjoyed a long career in theatre, television and film. She was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play in 1998 for her performance in The Chairs. From 2004 to 2009 she appeared as Miss Marple, the Agatha Christie sleuth, for the series Marple.

Geraldine McEwan’s mother, Nora Burns came from a working-class Irish family with roots in Kilkenny. Her father’s family had Belfast roots.

She died January 30, aged 82.

Rich McMahon

Born Coventry, 1973

Rich McMahon was a songwriter and performer, popular in the Midlands. Over the years, during which he released several albums, he shared the stage with performers such as The Young Folk, Dan Walsh and Bellowhead’s Sam Sweeney, as well as veterans such as Davey Arthur, Martin Stephenson and the Dubliners’ Seán Cannon

Ric McMahon died on May 18, aged 42.

Adrian Malone

Born Liverpool, February 3 1937

Adrian Malone, producer, was the creative inspiration behind the television series The Ascent of Man, The Age of Uncertainty and Cosmos.

He was born in Liverpool to Philip and Mary, immigrants from Ireland. They ran a fish and chip shop in Bootle.

Adrian Malone died on March 13, 2015, aged 78, survived by his children, David, James and Adrienne.

Colleen McCullough - author of The Thorn Birds Colleen McCullough - author of The Thorn Birds

Colleen Margaretta McCullough

Born June 1, 1937, Wellington, Australia

Of Irish Catholic heritage, Colleen McCullough (married name Robinson) was an Australian author whose best known work was The Thorn Birds. Set mainly on the fictional sheep station of Drogheda, it told the story of the Cleary family from 1915 to 1969.

Colleen McCullough died on January 29, aged 77.

Tom McGinn

Born Dublin, 1941

Tom McGinn was a much respected policeman on the island of Jersey, where he lived from 1960. He joined the Jersey Police in 1961 and on retirement some 37 years later was the longest serving officer in the force. He was presented with the long service medal by Jersey's Lieutenant Governor.

Tom McGinn died on June 21, 2015 aged 74.

Pat Miles

Born Bolton, 1931

Pat Miles’ mother Bride Clancy from Tipperary was a contributor to Ireland’s Own magazine. Pat shared this literary talent, writing a series of novels for young adults. She was also a teacher, plying her trade in Hertfordshire. Pat Miles died in May aged 84, survived by three children Patrick, Siobhán and Hugh, and two grandchildren.

James Molyneaux — unionist leader. Picture: Getty Images James Molyneaux — unionist leader. Picture: Getty Images

James Molyneaux

Born Killead, Co. Antrim, August 20, 1920

Unionist politician and leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (1979-1995), Molyneaux was widely regarded as a do-nothing leader, unduly deferential towards the Conservative Party.

This was a view shared by opponents as well as members of his own party. A member of the Orange Order and Royal Black Institution, Molyneaux was a fierce critic of the Good Friday Agreement.

He died at the age of 94 on March 9, 2015. He was unmarried.

Mary Mulvihill

Born Dublin, 1959

Award-winning science journalist, broadcaster and author Mary Mulvihill was one of the pioneers of science journalism in Ireland. She was also a passionate advocate of women in science.

Mary Mulvihill died on July 11, aged 55. She is survived by her husband Brian Dolan and her sisters Anne and Nóirín Mulvihill.

Maureen O'Hara Maureen O'Hara

Maureen O'Hara

Born Maureen FitzSimons in Ranelagh, Dublin, August 17, 1920

Actress Maureen O’Hara starred in major Hollywood productions such as How Green Was My Valley, Miracle on 34th Street and The Quiet Man.

Aged 17, she made the journey to England and an audition at Elstree; her career was underway.

Maureen O’Hara died on October 24, aged 95.

She is survived by her daughter.

Bill O'Herlihy

Born Glasheen, Co. Cork, September 26, 1938

Bill O’Herlihy, sports commentator and anchorman, was widely seen  as the public face of RTÉ sports.

He commentated on 10 World Cups and Ten Summer Olympic Games. O’Herlihy also ran his own successful PR company.

He died of cancer, aged 76, on May 25, and is survived by wife Hillary and daughters Jill and Sally.

Liam Ó Murchú

Born Glenageary, Dublin, February 10, 1929

RTÉ broadcaster, editor and producer Liam Ó Murchú also filled the roles of Assistant Controller of Programmes and Assistant Director General.

He died June 28, 2015, aged 86.

Sporting commentator Peter O'Sullevan from Co. Kerry Sporting commentator Peter O'Sullevan from Co. Kerry

Sir Peter O’Sullevan

Born Kenmare, Co. Kerry, March 3, 1918

Sir Peter O'Sullevan was a highly respected horse racing commentator for the BBC, as well as correspondent for the Press Association, Daily Express and Today.

As the BBC's leading racing pundit from 1947 to 1997 he covered some of the sport’s greatest moments.

He died on July 29, 2015 aged 97.

Father Gerry Reynolds

Born Limerick, 1933

Fr Gerry Reynolds, 80, a Redemptorist priest based at Clonard Monastery in west Belfast, played a key part in the peace process in the North. He was ordained in 1960, working in the Republic before moving to Belfast. He served at Clonard Monastery, a place strongly associated with the peace talks, for over three decades.

Fr Reynolds died on November 30.

Niall Rudd

Born Dublin, 1927

The classical scholar and academic Niall Rudd studied at Trinity College, Dublin, following which he taught Latin at Kingston upon Hull and Manchester. After a period in academia in Toronto, he returned to England, becoming chair of Latin at the University of Bristol in 1973. He remained there until his retirement in 1989.

Niall Rudd died on October 5, 2015, aged 88.

Oonagh Shanley-Toffolo

Born Leitrim, August 15, 1929

Oonagh Shanley-Toffolo grew up on a Leitrim farm, before becoming a nun. Her missionary work, which spanned twenty years, included living in the slums of Calcutta where she met Mother Teresa. Oonagh Shanley also worked as a midwife in London, where she married an Italian. She nursed the Duke of Windsor in his final illness, and became a confidante of Princess Diana.

Oonagh Shanley-Toffolo died on August 22, 2015

Ray Treacy

Born Dublin, June 18, 1946

Footballer Ray Treacy turned out 42 times for the Republic of Ireland team. His league career included spells at Charlton Athletic (149 appearances), Swindon Town (55) and Preston North End (58).

He died April 10, 2015 aged 68.