Monday, September 6, 2010


The first time I used a credit card in Ireland, in a little store in a little village in the West—back before the "Celtic Tiger" days of economic growth, when the country was economically pretty much where it had been for centuries—the store owner I handed it to checked out my name and said to his wife "Look ma, it's the famous Mick Lally" and we all laughed.

The laughter came from the fact that I look nothing like "the famous Mick Lally" and we all three knew it. "The famous Mick Lally" was at that time a well known stage actor whose theatrical company—which he co-founded—The Druid, was based in Galway. But he also appeared in Irish television and in Irish films, and was known for being an "Irish speaker" as well as the standard "English" one, acting in plays entirely in that language, now spoken fluently by fewer and fewer people every year.

I, unfortunately, never met the man, nor saw him on stage. I knew him mostly from one of my all time favorite films, THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH, in which he played the fisherman grandfather (at 48!—the photo above is from that film), and the Irish TV series from the '80s, "Glenroe" and the later '90s Irish TV series, "Ballykissangel."

But I am often linked with Mick because our film credits are often linked incorrectly on various movie info web sites as if we were the same person, along with another Michael Lally, also deceased, who acted on TV and in movies (there's still some of the latter's credits—"The A-Team" and "Dynasty"—on the IMDb site page that has my movie credits, under my full name "Michael David Lally" which I had to use when I started acting because of all the other "Michael Lallys") and his son, Michael Lally, also involved in the movies (mostly behind the scenes, including on almost all of John Cassavettes' films) who I met after I moved to L.A. and stay in touch with.

He went to see Mick Lally in a play at his theater company in Galway and introduced himself afterwards as another Michael Lally and Mick invited him out to a pub to exchange family histories and find the clan connection and after that whenever the Southern California Michael Lally was in Ireland he got together with Mick. I wish I had thought to do the same. He sounded like a wonderful man, and obviously was a wonderful actor.

He was only 64 so it's all the more sad that he's passed. But if you want to experience his kind and and subtly powerful presence, just watch THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH and he'll still be alive for you. Thank God for the movies.

[There are plenty of fine obits you can find by googling, including this extensive one in the NY Times, but the best is this account of his funeral from The Irish Times.]

No comments: