Renowned architect whose passions were theatre and song

Pat Campbell: August 27th, 1926 - September 16th, 2013


Pat Campbell, who has died aged 87, was an architect and a former member of the board of the National Concert Hall. However, it was through his life-long devotion to the Rathmines and Rathgar Musical Society, a consuming passion, that his contribution was most widely felt.

Campbell was born in Dublin in 1926, the only son of Michael and Margaret Campbell (nee Nolan). He was educated at Castleknock College and went on to study architecture at University College Dublin.

In 1950, he set up an architectural practice, and operated on his own until the 1970s when he was joined by Brian Conroy and Arthur Hickey. Thus was born the Campbell Conroy Hickey Partnership which continues today. Campbell was architect for the Blackrock Clinic in Co Dublin, the New Ireland Assurance Company on Dublin’s Dawson Street, and the Dominican College in Newbridge, Co Kildare.

The partnership has been responsible for many other statement buildings in Ireland, including the Hermitage Clinic in Lucan, Co Dublin, the Galway Medical Clinic in Galway, the Lodge at Doonbeg golf course in Co Clare and the Charlesland high-density housing development near Greystones in Co Wicklow.

Campbell’s architectural range was wide and included a considerable amount done on a voluntary basis for religious and other communities. His generosity was evident during his National Concert Hall board tenure (1986 to 1991) when the boardroom and backstage area were upgraded to his specification, pro bono.

His leadership and organisational skills were given full rein in the R&R. He was a highly effective general secretary before graduating, in 1998, to president of the society, a position he held until last year. In this he emulated the achievement of his father, Michael Campbell, who held the same office from 1953 to 1981.

The younger Campbell’s efforts did not go unrecognised. In Dublin’s millennium year of 1988, which was also the society’s 75th anniversary, he received the lord mayor’s Special Award in recognition of his and the society’s contribution to the cultural life of the capital.

Campbell’s role with the R&R was not confined to the backstage, as it were, even if, as Myles Dungan put it in his recent volume, If You Want to Know Who We Are , a history of the society, his early stage career suggested he would remain “a remarkable flower ‘born to blush unseen’.” But small roles, sometimes no more than participation in the chorus, blossomed into a string of comic leads in the early 1970s that continued until not long before his death.

He was supreme in giving life to a multitude of topsy-turvy characters created by Gilbert and Sullivan, including Ko-Ko in The Mikado , the Duke of Plaza-Toro in The Gondoliers , John Wellington Wells in The Sorcerer , the major-general in Pirates of Penzance , King Gama in Princess Ida , the Lord Chancellor in Iolanthe , Sir Desmond Murgatroyd in Ruddigore , Reginald Bunthorne in Patience , and Sir Joseph Porter in HMS Pinafore .

Love of theatre
Outside the G&S repertoire, long a staple of the R&R, Campbell was memorable also in society stagings of My Fair Lady , Camelot , Gigi , The Desert Song and Kiss Me Kate – in which his and Ray Barror’s Brush Up Your Shakespeare was a showstopper.

Campbell’s love of theatre and song saw him join the venerable Dublin song club The Strollers, for whose core group, The Band, he sang regularly. His ( Don’t Put Your Daughter On The Stage), Mrs Worthington , a regular with The Strollers, was widely admired.

Pat Campbell was a gentle joker with an unforced sense of humour. He was witty and had excellent comic timing which he employed to good effect whether it was chatting with a handful of friends or addressing a packed auditorium.

During the R&R seasons, he and Joan, his devoted wife of more than six decades, made a point of lingering in the foyer, welcoming the audience as they arrived. Sadly, when the society celebrated its centenary last November with The Mikado at the Concert Hall, Pat was conspicuous by his absence.

But he was most assuredly not forgotten, not least by Joan, his daughters Sarah, Felicity and Joanna, and son Roderic. He is survived by his sisters, Peggy and Phyllis, and seven grandchildren, and by all his R&R friends.