Skibbereen’s Loss

February is generally a dreary month – the winter weather is still with us, coughs, colds and flu are everywhere and bills have to be paid after the extravagance of Christmas and New Year. In 1997, however, a lot worse was to come – our producer/director, actor, mentor and friend (John O’Sullivan) died suddenly leaving a void in our lives which we are still trying to come to terms with.During those three days of mourning, there was a mixture of shock, tears, memories, stories and a realisation that so much of John had rubbed off on all of the group. In our many get-togethers during that time, and since then, there has been an overwhelming desire to perpetuate John’s memory, both in the short term and in the long term.

It was only fitting that the last play John directed (April, 1996) The Black Stranger should be re-staged and there was such incredible enthusiasm for this project that it became a labour of love. Rehearsals, at times were very emotional, when we remembered John’s outstanding depth of feeling when he directed us – in fact, we could almost feel his presence.

There was no finer actor or director than John – his countless awards gained throughout the country testify to that – and to be part of his group was an experience to be treasured and never to be forgotten. John was a master at interpretation and, whether the part was big or small, made no difference; he gave his individual attention to everyone.

He has passed on those talents to countless people down through the decades, ensuring his memory will live forever. Perhaps a line from his favourite play, The Black Stranger, sums it up best: “He will be remembered when we are all gone and forgotten.

Through John’s efforts, the Town Hall in Skibbereen became a centre of drama and the top groups in the country added it to their itinerary. Actors and directors alike of these groups had the greatest respect and admiration for him and I personally witnessed this on many occasions – it was a joy to see.

He revived drama in town, putting on some powerful productions, as well as some marvellous comedies, not just directing but also acting in many of them – who will ever forget his performance in Autumn Fire?

Skibbereen Theatre Society with the permission of Skibbereen U.D.C. intend to erect a permanent memorial to John in the Town Hall in the very near future.

To Mary and family, our thoughts and prayers are always with you.

John, this performance is for you.

– Frank McCarthy,


Skibbereen Theatre Society.