The Abbey Theatre pays tribute to Vincent Dowling

10 May 2013



Vincent Dowling and T.P. McKenna in Long Day’s Journey into Night by Eugene O’Neill, directed by Frank Dermody, the Abbey Theatre at the Queen’s Theatre, 1959.

In a tribute to our former Artistic Director, the late Vincent Dowling, Fiach MacConghail, Director of the Abbey Theatre said, ‘Vincent Dowling had a broad theatrical career as actor, director and artistic director at the Abbey Theatre. In the early 1990s he played a pivotal role in touring internationally especially in the United States where he had settled. Vincent Dowling was an actor’s director – having been an actor himself he understood the craft of acting. I know he will be fondly remembered by many of the greats of Irish acting who worked with him. He was also a great business man and played an instrumental role in raising funds for the portico on the front of the Abbey Theatre building. In my memory he was brilliant with people. He will be deeply missed by his family, friends and colleagues in the theatre community across the world.’

Vincent Dowling and the Abbey Theatre

Vincent Dowling (Uinsionn Ó Dubhlainn) had a long and distinguished association with the Abbey Theatre (1953-1990) as an actor, director and Artistic Director and Lifetime Associate Director. He acted in over 100 plays at the Abbey Theatre and his Abbey career spanned five decades. He was Artistic Director of the Abbey Theatre for one term from 1987 to 1989. He led the Abbey Theatre company on its first tours to the Soviet Union and Hong Kong.

His relationship with the Abbey Theatre dates back to 1953 when first appeared as an actor in The Shadow of a Gunman by Seán O’Casey. Over the years he acted in plays by J.M. Synge, Shaw, and Oliver Goldsmith. He appeared in Frank Mc Mahon’s adaptation of Brendan Behan’s autobiographical novel Borstal Boy in 1967. Another notable production was the first adaptation of Flann O’Brien’s At-Swim-Two-Birds in which he played Donaghy in 1970.

In 1959 in a Long Day’s Journey into Night by Eugene O’Neill, he played James Tyrone the son of James Tyrone Jr. played by TP Mc Kenna. Directed by Frank Dermody this play had an intense six week rehearsal period at the Queen’s Theatre, Pearse Street, Dublin (where the Abbey Theatre relocated for a period after the fire of 1951). That production featured other greats of Irish acting such as Ria Mooney, Kathleen Barrington and Philip O’Flynn. Later he also acted in plays such as The Iceman Cometh (1972) by Eugene O’Neill and The Glass Menagerie (1974) by Tennessee Williams.

Vincent had a major association with J.M. Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World throughout his career. In 1968 he played Christy Mahon. Later in 1990, he led a nation-wide tour of the United States with his critically acclaimed production of The Playboy of the Western World. This was the Abbey Theatre’s first national tour of America in 55 years and starred Roma Downey as Pegeen Mike launching her acting career in America. Dowling later directed an Emmy award-winning film version of the play for PBS TV in the United States.

Ends

Further information:

Mary Folan, Press Officer, Abbey Theatre, Mobile: 087 737 6288 , mary.folan@abbeytheatre.ie

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