The actor, Pat Laffan, who has died, was a native of Beauparc, near Navan, where he grew up at Dollardstown.
The star of stage and screen was best known for his portrayal of Georgie Burgess in Roddy Doyle’s ‘The Snapper’, and as the rather amorous milkman and ladies’ man, Pat Mustard, in 'Fr Ted'. He was 79.
His father, Patrick Laffan, was elected to Meath County Council as a member of the Farmers' Party in 1925. It was an extraordinary period in Irish history, just after civil war, and the council was made up of many different strands of society, from the remnants of the landed Protestant gentry to those who had been involved in both sides in the war.
A native of Tipperary, Laffan senior had bought a farm at Dollardstown when it was being divided by the Land Commission. The Farmers' Party had been founded in 1922 as the weakened state of agriculture became a greater issue than the civil war politics. He had a link back to the founding of the Gaelic Athletic Association in 1884 - his first wife’s first husband was JK Bracken, one of the founders with Michael Cusack of the GAA in Hayes Hotel in Thurles.
His second wife, Catherine Moran, was a native of Trim, who taught from 1920 to 1932 in the Vocational School in Navan, and lived in the centre of town at the time.
The young Pat studied engineering at UCD, where he joined the drama society. He graduated from UCD on a Wednesday, and by the following Saturday night was on stage in the Abbey Theatre, covering for an actor who was away. He was on stage those Saturday and Monday nights, and stayed for 12 years.
Laffan’s first role was in an ‘The Evidence I Shall Give’ an Irish play about child abuse in a convent by Richard Johnson, in 1961, while his first full run was in Edna O’Brien’s ‘Girl with Green Eyes’ in 1962.
The Abbey was a company of 12 to 14 people with Vincent Dowling, Marie Keane, TP McKenna, Philip O’Flynn and Ray McNally among the company.
Laffan performed in many plays, both old and new, from the Abbey repertoire. As well as in the old Queen’s Theatre, and the new Abbey, the company played in many parts of the world including Britain, Europe, the US and Australia. For most of the 1970s, Pat Laffan was director of the Peacock Theatre and directed in the Gate Theatre from 1979 to 1982.
He appeared in around 40 films. Recent movies included small parts in 'The Queen' and 'War Horse'. Laffan also had a role in ‘Space Truckers’ a 1996 movie starring Dennis Hopper, which has become a cult classic amongst students in the United States. Television acting credits include ‘The Running Mate’, ‘The Clinic‘ , ‘On Home Ground‘, ‘Strumpet City’ and ‘Eastenders’.
Paddy Laffan senior passed away in the 1950s, and Catherine sold the Dollardstown farm in the 1960s. Both are laid to rest in St Mary’s Cemetery, Navan.
Paddy Laffan senior's first wife, Hannah, had previously been married to a former chairman of the Templemore Urban District Council, JK Bracken. Their son, Brendan Bracken was famous for his relationship with Sir Winston Churchill, as one of his closest friends in politics.
Brendan's correspondence with his mother, preserved by Paddy Laffan's second wife, Catherine, formed the centrepiece of an exhibition three years ago at the Little Museum of Dublin, entitled ‘Churchill and the Irishman’. Pat Laffan, who lived in Dun Laoghaire, had presented them to the museum for exhibition.
Pat Laffan died today in St Vincent’s Private Hospital, surrounded by his friends. Husband of the late Eileen, he is survived by his extended family, close friends and all his colleagues in Irish theatre.
His remains will repose at Quinn’s of Glasthule from 3pm to 5pm on Monday. Removal Tuesday to St Michael’s Church, Dun Laoghaire, arriving for 10am Funeral Mass, followed by cremation in Mount Jerome Crematorium. Donations, in lieu of flowers, to the Blackrock Hospice.