His brilliance will be missed but Donie’s legacy is secure

Donie Courtney pictured in St Peter’s Square in Rome before he staged his play on the life and times of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty

Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce has paid tribute to the late Donie Courtney, a supremely gifted actor and drama teacher, following his premature and sad passing.

The business organisation said he will be remembered with great fondness, appreciation and gratitude in his home town where he had always been such a creative force in arts, in culture and in life.

Chamber President, Niall Kelleher, said Donie, who was 52, was a hugely positive and important influence on so many young people with aspirations of making it to stage or screen, either as a potential career or as a hobby.

He said the Ardshanavooley man never once forgot his roots or the people of Killarney and he so willingly devoted his time to helping out with local community projects as well as accepting requests to stage his wonderful one-man play on the life and times of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, at venues around Killarney, on so many occasions.

“The people loved his magnificent presentation of God Has No Country and the fact that it was one of our own that kept the great story of the monsignor alive made it extra special,” he said.

Donie (right) was a real star of the stage and appeared in several big productions

The Chamber President said he has been hearing accounts all week of how Donie was a great wit, that he always seemed destined for the stage and he was forever a performer with a rich talent for anything he turned his hand to.

“Friends of his from his teenage years, when he attended St Brendan’s College and was involved in the local youth club, have been recalling his great breakdancing exploits and his prowess as a basketballer in the town leagues. Later, of course, Donie formed the Bricriú theatre group, staging several dramas in locals venues and introducing so many young people to the stage in the mid 1990s,” Mr Kelleher said.

He added that after graduating from the Gaiety School of Acting, Donie enjoyed a great career in television, on stage and in film but, despite his many successes, it was the opening of the West End School of Arts in Killarney last year that was his proudest moment.

“Donie and the team in the West End were doing terrific work with aspiring actors and with students from the three local secondary schools to whom he so willingly passed on some tricks of the trade with great patience and skill.

Killarney actor Donie Courtney performing his one-man show God Has No Country

“That presence, that influence, that experience and that brilliance will be greatly missed but his legacy is secure and generations of Killarney people to come will have good cause to reflect on and appreciate the pioneering spirit of Donie Courtney,” the Chamber President added.

Mr Kelleher expressed the sympathy of the Killarney business community to Donie’s wife, Adeline, his children, Jonah and Líla, the extended Courtney family and the team at the West End School of Arts.

Dóchas Drama Group in Killarney also issued a statement expressing sympathy to Donie’s family and his wide circle of friends.

“A light has gone out and Killarney and theatre in general has lost a friend. We thank him for his inspiration and keeping Killarney on the map.

“He has left us far too soon and will be sadly missed but long remembered,” Dóchas said.

The drama group members remember Donie as hardworking, positive, kind, encouraging and friendly.

Donie Courtney (right) in Beckett’s Waiting for Godot

“He was a talented actor, a gifted communicator, a kind and gentle teacher and a writer of note. For some of us in Dóchas Drama, Dónal Courtney has been part of our lives for as long as we can remember”.

Meanwhile, the funeral arrangements for the late Donie Courtney, who lived in Castlenock in Dublin, have been announced.

The cremation service took place this Wednesday afternoon in the Glasnevin Crematorium Chapel.

Predeceased by his parents Michael and Sheila, Donie is survived by Adeline, Jonah and Líla, his seven siblings Nancy, Paddy, Kathryn, Shelanne, Gary, Mike and Hugh, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, 24 nieces and nephews, other relatives and many friends.

The family has asked for donations in lieu of flowers, if desired, to be made to St Francis Hospice, Blanchardstown.

KillarneyToday.com: Local news when it happens. Call 087-2229761 or email [email protected]