Robert Carrickford – A Tribute

The passing of Robert Carrickford sees another major chapter close on the history of Irish Theatre. His loss will be felt, not only by his colleagues and fellow Equity members but by hundreds of thousands of television viewers and theatre-goers across the land.

Robert was an esteemed President of Irish Actors Equity and the longest serving from 1985-2001. He initiated many of the improvements in working conditions that continue to benefit actors today. His long experience in all facets of theatre and television stood him in good stead for such a position.

Born in Ballyshannon in 1928, Robert was a member of one of the oldest theatrical families in Ireland, his grandfather having founded the Mechanic’s Theatre which pre-dated the Abbey Theatre. The Carrickford’s became a household name and, as soon as Robert was old enough he then toured Ireland, extensively in what were known as “The Fit-Ups”, playing a different town for a few days, year in-year out.

A Director in his own right, he continued to mount his own productions and appeared in main-stream theatre with all the leading Companies, Gemini, The Abbey, Edwards & McLiammoir, and toured Hong-Kong, America and Belgium with prestigious Irish plays.

However, it was his long-running character of Stephen Brennan in “Glenroe” that made him a household name, despite having appeared in sixteen other films and TV series and, as Father Gogan in “The Riordans”.

His energy and drive, considering his incredible stage and television workload, will be long-remembered. His service to Equity was sterling and dedicated, his legacy to the new generations of performers, both as an artist and in his long-standing fight for rights, will never be forgotten.

Laurence Foster
16th March 2016.