Man from Cabra all right on the Knight


The actor, Michael Gambom, who lived in Dublin until he was six, has been made a knight in the Honours List. He plays the part of Father Jack in a film version of Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa, which also stars Meryl Streep and goes on release in the new year.

Best known for his performance in The Singing Detective, a largely autobiographical TV series by Denis Potter, he has been prominent on the London stage for years. He played Dostoevsky in The Gambler, but it was in The Skylight he delivered the performance of his life, as a charismatic restaurateur who rekindles an affair with a younger woman.

The Gate Theatre's Michael Colgan remembers a visit the actor paid to Dublin in October 1979, when he performed in Close of Play, which was directed by Harold Pinter and also starred Michael Redgrave.

It was the year Lord Mountbatten was murdered, and though the play had been scheduled for the Dublin Theatre Festival that year, it was pulled out following that killing. Mr Colgan, then festival organiser, recalled going to London to persuade the cast and production crew to change their minds. "Michael Gambon was among the first to put his hand up in favour of going to Dublin," he remembered. The performance went ahead at the Olympia.

He remembered Mr Gambon as a down-to-earth man, who was thrown by a conversation at "a posh party" where the hostess was "snobby". During the party the actor came over to him wondering whether he had said something wrong. In conversation with the hostess a short time earlier he had told her he was from Dublin. When she inquired what part, he replied, "Cabra". Her reaction was "a sort of chill", he said. Mr Colgan assured him Cabra was "all right".