TRIBUTES WERE paid last night to playwright, actor and director Tomás Mac Anna, who died yesterday.
Mr Mac Anna (87) died peacefully at St Michael’s Hospital, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, after an illness of some five weeks.
Abbey Theatre director Fiach Mac Conghail last night said Mr Mac Anna had “lived for the Abbey”. He was a great believer in Irish heritage, language and folklore, Mr Mac Conghail added.
Pat Moylan, chairman of the Arts Council said he was a “ giant of Irish theatre” who was woven into the Abbey’s fabric and history.
Minister for the Arts Jimmy Deenihan said: “As a writer, director and actor, [he] played a key role in modernising Irish theatre in both the Irish and the English language. He will be sadly missed and fondly remembered,.” he said.
Mr Mac Anna was born in Dundalk, Co Louth, and was a fluent Irish speaker. He began his long career at the Abbey in 1947. He was appointed the company’s Gaelic producer and worked as a director and set designer. He was appointed artistic director of the Abbey in 1966, a position which he held for three terms.
He wrote many plays including Winter Wedding, Scéal Scéalaí and the docu-drama Glittering Spears. He also directed a stage version of Brendan Behan's Borstal Boy, which won a Tony Award in 1970.
He will also be remembered as the writer and director of successful Irish language pantomimes which featured some of the leading Abbey actors of the day.
Mr Mac Anna is survived by his wife Caroline, daughters Fiona and Darina and sons Ferdia, Niall and Naoise.