Austin Gaffney – A Tribute

The wonderful Austin Gaffney, pictured above in the banner was from a performance of “Song of Norway”, with my wife Pauline (Magrath) in 1966. No one but Austin could enter a scene with such a swirl of an operatic cloak, or doff a silk top-hat with such panache.

Born in Dublin, for decades, he was the star of so many Light Operas, Pantomimes, Cabarets, Reviews, Television Shows and Recordings, often with some of the biggest orchestras and bands in Britain and Ireland. His performance as The Red Shadow in, ”The Desert Song”, surpassed all others; his voice superb, his acting superb. From “Die Fledermaus” to “The Merry Widow”, Austin reigned supreme.

Austin was also an original member of and, a staunch supporter of the Variety Artist’s Section of Irish Actors Equity, helping to raise the standard of that Branch for many years.

He was generous, unselfish and a pleasure to work with and, his path to stardom was a tough one. Following twice-daily performances in the Gaiety Theatre, at the drop of the evening curtain, he would be off to perform in Jury’s Cabaret in Dame Street until midnight. Weekends, and free days were spent enjoying the coaching of the next generation of Irish singers.

Austin was part of, what was, a great theatrical ‘family’ of colleagues that embraced so-called ‘legits’, and ‘non legits’, with equal camaraderie from the post-war years onward. His soubriquet, “The Gaffer”, created with true Dublinese affection, was apt indeed. He was greatly missed when he retired and he will be even more greatly missed now, as a valued colleague to so many. What a voice, what a star, what a friend to all!

Laurence Foster. February 15th 2019.

Banner photo: Copyright Pauline Magrath (Foster)