Rush Dramatic Society and The Millbank Theatre are deeply saddened to announce the death of Gay (Gabriel) Jones, Vice President of the society and an active member of the group for 67 years. We extend our deepest sympathy to his sisters Angela and Peggy and all of his extended family. May our beloved Gay rest peacefully.
“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis”
A Tribute Gay Jones June 8th 2020
Millbank patrons will know Gay as the smiling face warmly greeting them at the top of the stairs but those with greater longevity will know him as a wonderful character actor who graced the Rush stage for over 60 years. A member of Rush Dramatic Society since 1953, his continuous membership of 67 years started out at the tail end of what would become known as The Pantomime Years.
Along with his old school friend, the recently-deceased Peadar Clerkin, Gay was a teenager when he joined the group. He quickly established himself as a comedy actor of note and became a regular in the repertory plays of the 1950s and 1960s, including such highlights of the Irish stage as The Caretakers, The Shadow of a Gunman, Shadow and Substance, amongst many others.
Gay acted in John B Keane’s The Field three times – in 1969, 1990 and 2005 – and on each occasion played Fr Murphy, the source of much self-deprecating humour on his part. In the 1980s, he played with aplomb in Brian Friel’s Philadephia, Here I Come. He was a regular in Hugh Leonard’s plays, which were a staple of Rush Dramatic Society at the time; and he played the part of Oliver in the 1982 All-Ireland winning production of Da.
His love of drama was nurtured by one of his school teachers, Ms Langan and her husband, local farrier Joe Kane. Gay often recalled the great enjoyment of being on stage especially when all the parents showed up to see their children perform.
Progression into the ranks of Rush Dramatic Society, then a part of the local CYMS, was an obvious route and the kitchen table in the Jones household became the scene for many a rehearsal – and even the odd row, although Gay was usually cast in the role of peacemaker. The intake of a new crop of members in the 1950s sowed the seeds of much festival success throughout the country in the 1960s and 1970s. He served briefly as Chairman in the late 1960s.
He will be remembered fondly by all the members and patrons of the Millbank Theatre and Rush Dramatic Society, not only for his dedication to the theatre but for his charm, good humour and endless source of stories from days gone by.
Always willing and able to lend a hand, Peadar’s greatest tribute to him was “no matter what job he got, he did it with a smile – always happy and proud to be a part of the show.”
It was in comedy that he excelled. “Comedy is hard work, you know” was a familiar comment from him, although he always made it seem simple. And both he and Peadar were united on this truism “Comic timing can be neither learnt nor taught – you either have it or you don’t.” He last played on the Milbank stage in the part of the waiter in Plaza Suite in 2017.
Probably the part for which he will be best remembered and most acclaimed, was also his favourite. He played Jimmy in Bernard Farrell’s Happy Birthday, Dear Alice; opposite his dear friend, the late Rosaleen Sheelin as Alice in 1997; and again opposite Mary Torsney in 2011. His timing was nothing but perfect.
In the space of 3 months Rush Dramatic Society have lost A president, A vice president, and a Secretary. Those Offices can and will be filled but we can never replace the talent, dedication, fun and love that Hugh, Peadar and Gay brought to our society. We will never fill the void left by these 3 men.
Rest peacefully gentlemen and thank you for everything you gave us.