MICHAEL FASSBENDER has paid tribute to his friend, mentor and business partner Donal Courtney who passed away after a short illness this week.
Writing on the website of their arts school West End House School of Acting, which is located in Killarney, Kerry, Fassbender said his first encounter with Courtney when he was aged 17 "was something that would change" his life "immeasurably."
"We remained firm friends ever since," he continued.
"The first thing that struck me about Donie was how he engaged with me as a peer and not a teenager. He had a positivity to him that was absolutely infectious and an endless generosity both as a performer and human being. His talent was as much a force of nature as it was eminent. His sense of human nature was uncanny."
Fassbender said Courtney could make himself "the butt of the joke so everyone around him could gain confidence from it."
"He understood people’s insecurities very well because he wore his own on his sleeve.
"Showing personal vulnerabilities so you could feel safe revealing yours.
"He was kind, just and honest, with a wicked sense of humour."
The pair began to put in motion the West End House School of Arts in the spring of 2020 to offer the youth a place to study the arts, and it officially opened its doors in September 2021.
"West End House School of Arts is Donie’s legacy and we will do our very best to honour him through our work in this unique Place that he created," Fassbender said.
"For me he will always be my mentor. I will call on him in times of hardship and crisis and celebrate moments of joy with him. He stays with me always," he finished.
Married with two children, Courtney was the son of the late long-standing Killarney town councillor and tourism director Michael Courtney.
He appeared in numerous RTÉ productions, but is especially associated with his portrayal of Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty in his play 'God has no Country’.