One of Ireland’s leading actors was cremated yesterday as a huge crowd showed up to acknowledge his life’s work.
Mick Lally, 64, was famous for his role in an Irish soap opera, but it was his work in helping found the world famous Druid Theater in Galway and on behalf of the Irish language that was most remembered.
As the hearse arrived with a police escort the packed mourners broke into applause.
It was a humanist, non-religious ceremony.
Brian Whiteside, celebrant, said Lally had been “intertwined in our lives” and was now “gone from our lives” and that everyone had gathered to “celebrate a life well lived”.
Lally’s son Darach barely kept his emotions in check as he spoke.
“Like a good farmer, he made you want to ask for more. I want more,” he said. His father “could have been forgiven for settling for a fairly easy life as a teacher, but he had never sought the easy life”. Instead, he had accepted “real elements of hardship and uncertainty” because “conventional wisdom never dictated his life” and he “delighted in alienating others”.
Druid Theater director Garry Hynes, who with Marie Mullen and Lally co-founded the Druid Theatre Company in 1975.said Lally was “interested essentially in other people” and “had the gift of making you feel you were the very person he was hoping to meet”.
“I was happiest with him in a rehearsal room or around his dinner table or my dinner table.”
She said Lally had also used his position to help causes he believed in, such as homelessness and disadvantage, and to challenge the “ambiguity of how we value and support arts in this country”.
Marie Mullen said that only the Irish language could “suitably express Lally’s humanity.”
She added that she could almost hear Lally saying “you’re making me out to be a right saint” when he was really a “cranky, cantankerous old man”.
Lasairfhíona Ní Chonaola, Lally’s niece, sang a lament sean nós style, Caoineadh na dTrí Mhuire.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen had visited the family home the night before. Minister for Culture Mary Hanafin also attended.