Daphne Carroll – A Tribute

Daphne was the Matriarch of one of Ireland’s biggest theatrical dynasties. Wife of Denis Brennan and mother of established actors Barbara, Stephen, Cathryn, Jane and Paul Brennan and grandmother to actor Eva Bartley. Trained at the Abbey School under Lennox Robinson, Daphne joined Shelagh Richard’s Company at the Olympia Theatre and, subsequently, Lord Longford’s Company. Her prodigious career continued with Irish and English tours with Edwards/McLiammoir, Anew Mcmaster, Illsley/McCabe and Madame Bannard Cogley.

Daphne then joined the Radio Eireann Players, performing, very nearly, the whole gamut of Irish and World Classic Plays. For many years, her voice became synonymous with iconic daily serials, The Kennedys of Castlerosse and Harbour Hotel being foremost.

However, in 1976, Daphne returned to the stage to play Mrs. Henderson in James Flannery’s production of Yeats’ The Words on the Window Pane. Her stunning performance of this demanding role won her immediate acclaim. She then continued to perform leading stage roles, when her radio commitments allowed. On her retirement from RTE, Daphne continued to perform until her mid- eighties, particularly on film and television, including Strumpet City, Da and Caught in a Free State.

Despite Daphne’s phenomenal career catalogue, she never once missed a performance or made any compromise, no matter what part she played. She was generous on stage, particularly to younger actors and encouraged and supported her fellow artists whenever she could. Many a nervous actor would be taken under her wing. Watching her stage technique and, merely to close one’s eyes and just listen to her radio delivery, was a lesson in itself. Her range and scope of performance in all media will, probably, never been seen again.

We all, front stage and back, owe Daphne so much. Her staunch support of Irish Actor’s Equity helped, on so many occasions, towards the betterment of our working conditions; her ethos an example to all who make their living in our privileged profession. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest! You have done the State much service.


Laurence Foster
Monday February 9th 2015