Glenroe creator Wesley Burrowes dies aged 85

Playwright and screenwriter ‘the master’ of television drama, says RTÉ director-general

Playwright and screenwriter Wesley Burrowes, best known for creating the long-running RTÉ drama Glenroe, has died aged 85 following a long illness.

Born in Bangor, Co Down in 1930, he moved to Dublin in the early 1950s after graduating from Queen's University Belfast. After several years writing for theatre, he got his first break in television in 1964 when he replaced Maura Laverty as scriptwriter on RTÉ Television's drama series, Tolka Row.

Two years later he became editor and chief scriptwriter for the station's first long-running rural soap opera, The Riordans. He went on to create another rural soap, Bracken, which featured Gabriel Byrne in the lead role of Pat Barry.

But Burrowes will probably be best remembered for the creation in 1983 of Glenroe - one of RTÉ’s most popular drama series - which he scripted through most of its 18-year run.


‘The master’

Noel Curran, director-general of RTÉ, last night described Burrowes as "the master" of Irish television serial drama.

“From Tolka Row to The Riordans, Bracken to Glenroe, Wesley did not simply create plotlines, he created entire worlds, populated with original characters who themselves became household names on a scale unheard of before or since.”

Curran said Burrowes was “universally respected, beloved by his actors and crews - he captured facets of Irish life, and the Irish people, that resonated deeply with audiences”.

“On behalf of RTÉ, and on behalf of our many colleagues who worked so closely with him over many years, I would like to extend my sincere condolences to Wesley’s family.”

Burrowes is survived by his wife Helena and children Ciara and Kim.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times