Pat Laffan – A tribute

Irish actor and director Pat Laffan, has sadly “shuffled off this mortal coil” after an incredible career spanning six decades. He grew up on a farm in Co. Meath and, after graduating from Engineering in UCD began his career in the Abbey Theatre, despite his mother, allegedly, begging Ernest Blythe to sack him!

Pat became a prolific theatre actor and was the Director of the Peacock Theatre in the 1970s. On leaving the Abbey he directed in the Gate Theatre until 1982 and later joined the board of the Gaiety School of Acting.

I had the privilege of sharing a dressing with him at the Gate, and “survived” the long run. Pat didn’t suffer fools gladly or otherwise, but there was always a mischievous twinkle in the eyes and, if he liked you, you were a friend for life. My lasting memory is his performance as Brendan Bracken on radio. I was lucky enough to play Churchill opposite him and his generosity as an actor was enormous.

While Pat is perhaps still best remembered as Mr. Burgess in The Snapper he had 70 film and television credits to his name and was at home in comic or dramatic roles with equal aplomb. He has, quite rightly, been described as an incredible force in Irish Theatre. He was also an incredible force on the cricket field and not always with bat and ball – more intimidating was his ferocious glare at erring umpires and wayward bowlers. His Presidency of the Theatrical Cavaliers Cricket team was legendary.

A valued and supportive member of Irish Actors Equity, he will be sorely missed in every walk of life, over which he loomed large, passing on his expertise to the benefit of other generations of actors. The whole of the acting profession is indebted to Pat’s dedication, multi-talents, wit and pure professionalism.

Laurence Foster, March 2019