Cast of famous movie and TV stars unite to perform late Joe Crilly play

Joe Crilly
Joe Crilly

A stellar cast of famous movie and TV stars received a standing ovation after performing one of Lurgan man Joe Crilly’s plays - just two months after his sudden passing.

A uniquely talented and creative character, Joe wrote prolifically and penned many plays which had been performed to acclaim in both Ireland and the UK.

A former St Michael’s Grammar School pupil, Joe had suffered from mental health issues but sadly passed away in France in May.

His friends in the theatrical world decided to pay tribute to him by performing one of his many works.

Irish star Ciarán Hinds, of Road to Perdition, Harry Potter and Game of Thrones fame led the cast with Downton Abbey’s Ruairi Conaghan, Trevor Cooper of Lorna Doone fame and Amy Molly, from The Fall and Call the Midwife, performed Kitty and Damnation at London’s Landore Theatre last Sunday.

Joe’s brother Kevin said: “A number of his friends got together and decided to produce this play in his memory. It was a full house with many well known actors in the audience.”

Joe Crilly

Joe Crilly

Kevin revealed that they are also publishing three of his plays which while they had been performed in public to much acclaim, they have never been published.

They include Kitty and Damnation as well as ‘Secondhand Thunder’ which was produced by Tinderbox Theatre Company and which won the 1998 Stewart Parker Award, a national new writing award in Ireland. This play was also shortlisted for the Thames TV Award.

It caused quite a stir with its ‘irreverent look at life beneath the sashes in Orange County, rural mid-Ulster’.

The third play to be published will be ‘On McQuillan’s Hill’ which was also produced by Tinderbox Theatre Company.

“We blamed Joe’s illness, depression, on his death. We wanted to raise funds for Mental Health UK and this is one way of doing it,” said Kevin.

Next Friday night, September 8, at 7pm there will be a Charity Quiz Night in Belfast’s The Errigle to raise funds in Joe’s memory.

Also there will be a gathering in his memory at Vauxhall Gardens, London, close to where Joe lived next Saturday.

It was an area where he was exceptionally well known as a man of compassion who visited and cared for the elderly, disabled and disadvantaged.

“He was a sort of freelance carer until he joined the Peabody Trust when he eventually got paid for it,” said his brother Kevin.

“He used to organise coach trips home for some of the elderly Irish men who had went to London to work but perhaps never been home for 50 years. Some of these retired men would be lonely, going from the pub to their bedsit. Joe visited them and helped them. We never knew just how much he did in London,” he said.

“He was never one to blow his own trumpet.”

Kevin revealed that among the London community and the Peabody Trust, Joe Crilly was revered and exceptionally well known. They had organised next Saturday’s celebration of his life to honour Joe and his achievements.

Though just 54 when he passed away at the end of May, Joe packed in an illustrious and creative life.

He was a musician, punk rocker, actor, writer, father, brother and friend.

He was a man with a stunning personality who oozed imagination and charisma.

It is a testament to his popularity that Joe’s friends and family from near and far want to gather to remember his many talents.