SOURCE: THE ATHENRY JOURNAL, NO. 20, 2005
Kitty Lardner’s front door was always open. Bhí fáilte roimh cách. She enjoyed meeting people, her many interests in life made her many friends.
She may have been eighty-eight years of age but she had the mind of a much younger person. She had a very positive outlook on life and a great sense of humour, so amusing in the way she told a story, it was Kitty’s unique way of telling it. She was an avid reader, a good listener with a view to offer on any topic of conversation.
Leading female roles
Kitty will be remembered for her scores of leading female roles through six decades with her beloved Athenry Drama Group and her many awards for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Producer. She will be remembered for magnificent performances throughout Ireland as Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest, Mena Glavin in Sive, Bessie Burgess in The Plough and the Stars, Maimie Flanagan in The Field to mention but a few. When I joined the Drama Group the Old Boy’s National School was its home. Rehearsals took place amid buckets and basins capturing water from the leaking roof and the cold east wind coming through broken window panes. It was from such surroundings that All-Ireland winning plays emerged under Kitty’s direction. When members appeared for rehearsals Kitty had ensured a warm room by lighting the fire earlier and she always appeared with a bag containing flasks of tea and biscuits. Her dedication and care was above and beyond the call of duty.
Touched many lives
Through her love of drama she touched the lives of so many people who remained lifelong friends afterwards. Plays were produced by her in a quiet unassuming way, encouraging and reassuring new cast members. She was always anxious prior to a first public performance but often in spite of a poor dress rehearsal her cast never let her down on the night, such was their respect and admiration for her professionalism.
Also an artist
Along with the love of drama she loved painting, enjoyed painting classes, experimenting with new techniques, an eternal learner. Her delicate watercolours are treasured in many a home in Athenry and beyond, she exhibited regularly and often recounted her surprise at the amount somebody was prepared to give for one of her works.
Her faithful companions
Kitty gave unselfishly of her time be it organising church gate collections or providing cakes for cake sales for different good causes. She loved animals and treasured her cats, she enjoyed their company and they were her faithful companions. Newspaper cuttings and photographs of her beloved Drama Group were treasured by Kitty and she has left us a tremendous archive of Drama Group activities spanning the twentieth century.
Séamus Fahy-a dear friend
A few days prior to Kitty’s death she lost a very dear friend who was like a son to her, another highly respected member of our community, Séamus Fahy. To all who knew him Séamus was a reserved, gracious and decent man. Above all he was a man for people, people always came first, close to his customers and that was as much a friendship relationship as anything else.
In business for over forty years in Athenry, a business he inherited from his father, he used all his talents to build and expand that business over the years. No doubt the summit of his ambition came last November when Centra moved to new premises and Séamus brought with him the spirit, the teamwork and the friendliness of his staff to a more spacious premises and a new phase of development. He had the loyalty and respect of his Centra staff, a friend and confidant for all of them and an indication of that loyalty is the fact that four of his dedicated staff have given him and the business a hundred years of service. He had special time for the elderly and children. They are going to miss all the sweets!
Generous and kind
He also had a deep commitment to the parish of Athenry and he was hugely supportive of community events, new ventures and any voluntary endeavour that would be of benefit to the town and people that he loved and served so generously for half a century. Such was his generosity, he so often volunteered financial support for a particular good cause. He discreetly helped many a family when the going was difficult – for a part-time job or to put it on the book when cash was short – a service you will not get elsewhere in the commercial world today.
Supportive of drama and musicals
The world of drama, music and song was Séamus’ life, an interest he shared with Kitty Lardner. He was involved with Athenry Drama Group in younger days serving as Stage Manager in many plays and being in a supportive role whenever needed. Séamus was also very supportive of the Athenry Musical Society. He travelled all over the country to Drama Festivals and a break for him was a trip to London and shows at the West End.
Athenry has lost two highly respected members of its community and two very good friends. May they rest in peace.