Tribute to the late Pat Brannigan

The family and friends of the late actor Patrick (Pat) Brannigan have penned a tribute to an actor who once tread the boards at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast.

Patrick (Pat) Brannigan 30 September 1938 – 24 May 2014

Patrick (Pat) Brannigan was educated at St. Mary’s C.B.S. Grammar School in Belfast and graduated with an Honours Degree from Queen’s University in Economics, Politics and Philosophy. He subsequently trained as a teacher and taught English, Drama, and Irish at St. Gabriel’s School in Belfast until his retirement in 1999.

He joined the Lyric Theatre in Derryvolgie Avenue in 1966 and was immediately cast in leading roles with the company, among them Bolingbroke in Richard II, Mr Bentham in O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock, Diarmuid in Yeats’s The Dreaming of the Bones, and Donal Davoren in O’Casey’s The Shadow of A Gunman. When the Lyric moved to its new theatre in Ridgeway Street, he continued his close association with the company, and distinguished himself in the title role in Peer Gynt, as Jack Clitheroe in O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars, as Ayamonn in O’Casey’s Red Roses for Me, as Harry Heegan in The Silver Tassie, as Christy Mahon in The Heart’s a Wonder, and as Don John in Much Ado about Nothing, among other roles. He originated the lead role in the Lyric’s original production of John Boyd’s The Farm in 1972 and appeared in other original productions of Boyd plays such as The FlatsGuestsThe Street, and Facing North. Among the plays he directed for the Lyric were Juno and the Paycock in 1969, The Shadow of a Gunman in 1970, and Patrick Galvin’s The Last Burning in 1974, and W.B. Yeats’s poetic dramas The Countess Cathleen and Deirdre 1972 and 1975, respectively. He put his fine singing voice to good use in many Lyric productions, including Man of La Mancha in 1972 and We Do It for Love in 1975. In the 1980s, he did an increasing amount of radio and voiceover work and then retired from the theatre to devote himself to his family and to his farm in Co Monaghan.

On hearing the news of Pat’s death, Sam McCready wrote, “Pat Brannigan was the archetypal Irish leading man, with the sensitivity and soul of the poet. In his characterizations he revealed a naturalness, spontaneity, and a rare ability to dig deeply into the emotional life of the character. He was also a gentleman of utmost integrity and personal modesty; in the many productions in which my wife Joan McCready and myself shared the stage with him, we never heard him say a negative word or show a vestige of temper. He was a credit to the Ulster acting profession and we are deeply saddened at his passing.”