One of Ireland's best known actors, Mick Lally, was born in the Gaeltacht village of Derryveeney, Tourmakeady, County Mayo on November 10th, 1945. In his all too short life (he died on 31 August 2010) he achieved great noteriety in a stage and TV acting career.
Lally was a fluent Irish speaker and was at the forefront of development of the Irish language in an open and generous way. He appeared in several Irish language productions throughout his career.
Son of Tom and Mae Nally, Mick was the eldest of seven children - five sisters and one brother - he grew up on a 30-acre hill farm in Tourmakeady. He was educated at the local national school in Tourmakeady and then at St Mary's College, Galway.
He received his third level education at University College Galway, where he studied history and Irish. During his time at university, he got involved in the Irish-language college drama society, and he also won the British and Irish intervarsity boxing championship.
Mick Lally taught history and Irish at a vocational school in Tuam from 1969 to 1975 meanwhile acting at Galway's Irish-language theatre, An Taibhdhearc. He quit teaching to pursue his career as a stage actor and in 1975 he founded Druid Theatre Company, with Garry Hynes and Marie Mullen. The Druid Theatre Company worked closely with many Irish playwrights and began to transform the way in which Irish and international audiences received both classic and contemporary plays. Their first production was a challenging reappraisal of JM Synge's 'The Playboy of the Western World', in which he played Christy Mahon.
Lally also became a member of the Field Day Theatre Company, and starred in the company's 1980 premiere of Brian Friel's play 'Translations'. He first played at the Abbey Theatre in 1977 in a production of 'Wild Oats' and went on to perform in many other Abbey productions. In 1982, Mick starred with Brenda Fricker in the award-winning film 'The Ballroom of Romance'. From 1983 he played the role of Miley Byrne - a gauche, innocent, bewildered farmer - in the RTÉ soap 'Glenroe'. This role was a revival of the character that he played earlier in long-running RTÉ series, 'Bracken,' for which he won a Jacob's Award in 1979.
In 1994, Mick Lally played the character Hugh in the film 'The Secret of Roan Inish', and in 1995 portrayed Dan Hogan in the film adaptation of Maeve Binchy's 'Circle of Friends'. Other film roles included: 'Poitín', 'Our Boy's,' The Outcasts,' A Man of No Importance' and others. Some of Lally's TV appearances included roles in the hit BBC TV series, 'Ballykissangel', 'The Year of the French' and also in the popular TG4 series, 'Ros na Rún'.
The people of Tourmakeady were intensely proud of Mick Lally. On his last visit there in July 2010, Mick Lally launched 'Tuar Mhic Éadaigh: Stair agus Seanchas', a book on the history and folklore of the area by Fr Pádraig Standun.
In September 2011, on the first anniversary of Mick Lally's death, the Druid Theatre in Galway, unveiled a specially commissioned seat in the foyer of the theatre to remember Lally’s work and lifelong involvement with that theatre.
Mick Lally's untimely death in August 2010 robbed Ireland of one of it's finest actors and promoters of the country's native tongue.