Stage and screen actor Gabrielle Reidy dies aged 54

Abbey Theatre veteran was noted for ‘sheer intensity as a performer’

Gabrielle Reidy (left) with Tony Flynn and Cathy Belton in the 2010 Abbey Theatre production of The Plough and the Stars. Photograph: Ros Kavanagh

The actor Gabrielle Reidy has died at the age of 54 at her home in London.

Ms Reidy was associated with the Abbey Theatre as far back as 1971 when, as a child actor, she appeared in Seán O'Casey's The Shadow of a Gunman.

Last night the audience at the Abbey Theatre gave a standing ovation in her memory at the end of the performance of Mark Rowe's Our Few And Evil Days.

Abbey Theatre director Fiach Mac Conghail said: "On behalf of everyone associated with the Abbey Theatre, I would like to express a heartfelt sadness on the terrible and untimely death of Irish actress Gabrielle Reidy. We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to her family and to her partner Gary.


“It is a terrible loss to the acting community that Gabrielle Reidy has died so young.”

She was best known recently for her role as Bessie Burgess in The Plough and the Stars by Seán O'Casey, which had a successful run on the Abbey stage in 2010 and went on a national tour in 2012.

The actor was diagnosed with a brain tumour earlier this year.

Ms Reidy was brought up in Malahide. Her father, an ex-RAF pilot, joined Aer Lingus; her mother, who aspired to be an actor, died when Gabrielle was in first year in college.

Ms Reidy's long-time friend John Comiskey, who is a designer and television director, described her as "one of the liveliest people imaginable. She was 150 per cent committed to anything she did and 150 per cent committed to her opinions.

“She was the best fun and the most infuriating. It is hard to image that she is gone mainly as she had this extraordinary forceful vitality about her. She was always on the go and she was absolutely radiant.”

Mr Comiskey said Ms Reidy was noted for her "sheer intensity as a performer", starting with her performance aged 17 in Samuel Beckett's Footfalls.

Her best-known film role was as the Holocaust survivor Isabella Leitner in Fragments of Isabella in 1989.

She was Scarlett Johansson's mother in Girl with a Pearl Earring and Daniel Radcliffe's mother in the West End production of Equus. She was also in the 2012 film What Richard Did.

Ms Reidy is survived by her partner Gary Lilburn, who is also an actor, and their son Finn. She had lived in London for the past two decades.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times