Sad passing of gifted actor stuns Killarney

Gifted: The late Donie Courtney

An air of almost total disbelief and grief descended on Killarney on Saturday evening when word filtered through of the shock passing of Donal (Donie) Courtney, a hugely popular local actor, drama coach and theatre director who was known throughout the country and beyond for his great work on stage and screen.

Donie, a married father of two, who was just 52, passed away following a short illness.

He was the man that first introduced Hollywood A-lister Michael Fassbender to acting through his then amateur drama school in Killarney and the pair became great friends. They joined forces once again last year when they opened a new professional school of acting ant culture in the West End House in Killarney.

Donie with his great pal Hollywood actor Michael Fassbender

Michael and Donie were both actively involved in a local theatre company, called Bricriu, over 25 years ago and they staged several performances in venues around the town at the time.

Donie initially established the performance group and one of the first to sign up for his workshops in St Brendan’s College was the then 17-year-old from Fossa with stars in his eyes.

Writer and actor Donie, a son of former town councillor Michael and Sheila Courtney, from Ardshanavooley, is a graduate of the Gaiety School of Acting and he was particularly well known for God Has No Country, his brilliant one-man show based on the life and times of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty.

As well as his late father, Michael, Donie’s two brothers, Hugh and Paddy, also served on the former Killarney Town Council and while they were making an impact in the debating chambers, Donie was making his presence felt on stage.

Donie was brilliant in his own one-man play, God Has No Counntry, based on the life and times of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty

During the course of his busy career Donie appeared on the RTÉ soap Fair City and in the BBC drama The Tudors. His screen credits include Acceptable Risk, Cutting Grass and Maru as well as a role in The Gift, produced by Killarney filmmaker Damian O’Callaghan.

Donie’s stage credits include a brilliant adaptation of Waiting for Godot, Dr Who Meets Einstein, Love’s Delusio, The Chastitute, The Man from Clare, Romeo & Juliet and his own work In High Germany and Election Night.

After his graduation from a full-time acting course at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin, he taught drama there for many years and he offered expert and practical tuition to a whole generation of aspiring young actors.

For the past year he has been the director of the West End Acting School in Killarney where he and the team provided acting classes and tuition for students and budding actors in a whole range of stage and screen related disciplines.

Donie is survived by his wife, Adeline, children Jonah and Líla, and the extended Courtney family.

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