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Deaths in 2015: Saying goodbye to those we loved and lost this year

It was the year we bid our final farewells to…

IT WAS A YEAR where we lost a number of Irish people who brought joy and happiness to our kitchens and sitting rooms for decades.

Legends of TV and radio, Bill O’Herlihy, Tony Fenton and Derek Davis were all mourned by the country, remembered fondly as men who through their work became friends to millions.

Ireland also lost iconic names of screen and stage – the beautiful and talented Maureen O’Hara and the incomparable Brian Friel.

Across the water, Saturday nights in front of the telly were remembered by families who tuned in to watch Cilla Black when she passed away. And across the globe, reruns of Jonah Lomu smashing through teams were shown as rugby lost its first great superstar. A true All Blacks hero in New Zealand.

We remember them all, together, here.


On 10 January, Hollywood actor and star of Alfred Hitchcock’s epic movie The Birds, Rod Taylor passed away.

Reed Saxon / AP Reed Saxon / AP / AP

On 19 January came the news that Anne Kirbride, who played Deirdre Barlow in Coronation St, had died. She was a regular face in Irish sitting rooms, having played the character for 44 years. She passed away after a short illness, and her colleagues said they were devastated at the news.

Anne Kirkbride death PA Wire / Press Association Images PA Wire / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia died on 22 January at the age of 90.

Singer Demis Roussos, who sold more than 60 million albums around the world, died on 25 January in an Athens hospital. The singer was hugely popular in the 1960s and 1970s.

Abdias Augusto / YouTube

Internationally acclaimed Australian author Colleen McCullough, whose novel The Thorn Birds sold more than 30 million copies, died on 29 January. She was 77.

Australia Obit McCullough

Actress Geraldine McEwan who was best known for playing the famous Agatha Christie detective Miss Marple, died on January 30 following treatment for a stroke.

Journalist, economist and author Colm Rapple died in hospital on 31 January after a short illness. The National Union of Journalists described him as an “outstanding journalist, a champion of the consumer who made financial journalism accessible and relevant”.


The highly-regarded journalist David Carr collapsed and died in his beloved New York Times newsroom on 12 February. Uncompromising, relentless and a shrewd analyst of the media, Carr had turned his life around after spending many years as a crack cocaine addict to become one of the most respected journalists in the United States.

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The music world lost ‘Fade to Grey’ singer Steve Strange on 12 February. He died of heart failure at the age of 55. In tributes, Boy George said he was “heartbroken” at the news, while Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon described Strange as the “leading edge of New Romantic”.

VisageVEVO / YouTube

Billionaire Michele Ferrero, who became Italy’s richest man by turning Nutella into a phenomenon, died on 14 February at the age of 89.

Singer-songwriter Lesley Gore, who was best known for the songs It’s My Party and You Don’t Own Me, died on 16 February at the age of 68. She has been suffering from lung cancer.

JohanVilchez / YouTube

Leonard Nimoy, the actor, director, singer and photographer who was best known for his role as Mr Spock in Star Trek, died at his home in Los Angeles on 27 February. He was 83.



Jim McCann, the balladeer with The Dubliners, died on 4 March at the age of 70. President Michael D Higgins paid tribute to the singer, who said that McCann has “captivated audiences, both at home and abroad, with his superb and instantly recognisable singing voice”.

Paddy Barry / YouTube

Sam Simon, who co-created legendary comedy show The Simpsons, died on 8 March at the age of 59. Simon had been diagnosed with cancer two years previously. He had retired in his 30s and focused on giving away his vast wealth to various charities.

Sam Simon AP AP

Much-loved veteran Irish DJ Tony Fenton died on 12 March after a four year battle with cancer. He was just 53. Fenton had been a stalwart of Irish radio for almost thirty years on 2FM and latterly Today FM.

National Concert Hall. Pictured is Tony Fenton and Eamon Fitzpatrick at a reception by The National Concert Hall to thank their corporate sponsors and highlight details of forthcoming events for sponsorship. The Corporate Associa /Photocall Ireland /Photocall Ireland

The hugely influential author Terry Pratchett, who was renowned for his fantasy novels, died on 12 March at the age of 66. He had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease eight years ago. His publishers described him as “one of the brightest, sharpest minds” in the world.

Terry Pratchett death PA Wire / Press Association Images PA Wire / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Mike Porcaro, the bassist in the band Toto, died on 16 March at the age of 59, eight years after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

TotoVEVO / YouTube

Lee Kuan Yew, the iron-fisted politician who turned Singapore into the prosperous city it is today, died on 23 March at the age of 91.

singapore-lee-kuan-yew-hospitalized-630x433 Wong May-E / PA Wong May-E / PA / PA


Cynthia Lennon, who was married to John Lennon in the 1960s, died on 1 April at the age of 75.

Tributes poured in for ex-Republic of Ireland football international Ray Treacy, who died on 10 April at the age of 68 following a short illness. The striker won 42 caps for Ireland between 1966 and 1980.

ray-treacy-1996-4-630x398 Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

Percy Sledge, whose ballad When A Man Loves A Woman became one of the definitive soul classics, died on 14 April at the age of 73.

countvonfersen / YouTube

Tributes poured in from across the country on news that UCD GAA stalwart Dave Billings died on 14 April.

Sawyer Sweeten, the child star of Everybody Loves Raymond, died by suicide on 23 April. He was just 19 years old.

Entertainer and ventriloquist Keith Harris, best known for pleasing the masses with his performances with Orville the Duck, died in hospital on 28 April at the age of 67.


Jean Nidetch, whose own struggles with her weight led her to found the global corporate juggernaut WeightWatchers died in Florida on 29 April. She was 91.

Ben E King, the singer best known for the soul classic Stand By Me, died on 30 April at the age of 76. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his work with The Drifters in the 1950s.

Adriano Cruzado / YouTube


“My soul mate slipped away last night,” Rio Ferdinand said, announcing the passing of his wife Rebecca Ellison on 2 May. She had a short battle with cancer.

Rebecca Ellison death PA Wire / PA Images PA Wire / PA Images / PA Images

Crime writer Ruth Rendell – “the last great dame of the police thriller – died on 2 May. She had suffered a stroke in January and had been in hospital since. She was 85 years old.

David Goldberg, the husband of Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, died suddenly on 2 May. “Dave was my rock,” she said in a eulogy posted on her Facebook page.

We had 11 truly joyful years of the deepest love, happiest marriage, and truest partnership that I could imagine… He gave me the experience of being deeply understood, truly supported and completely and utterly loved – and I will carry that with me always. Most importantly, he gave me the two most amazing children in the world.

Errol Brown, the lead singer of Hot Chocolate, died in the Bahamas on 6 May. He was 71.

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The world also said goodbye to Juliet Green on 6 May. She was best known as the Granny rapper from The Wedding Singer. She was 101 years old.

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Popular TV presenter Derek Davis died after a short illness on 13 May, aged 67.


‘King of the Blues’ BB King died on 15 May at his home in Las Vegas. He was 89 years old.

Actress and mother of Ben Stiller, Anne Meara, also passed away on 23 May.

On 24 May, John Nash – the Nobel Prize winning mathematician whose life was the subject of A Beautiful Mind – was killed in a car crash, aged 82.

Much-loved broadcaster Bill O’Herlihy died unexpectedly on 25 May at the age of 76. “He never hid his emotions on big occasions, from disappointment to utter joy, and for this he was greatly loved,” said Noel Curran, RTE’s Director General.

Irish Film and Television Awards PA Archive / Press Association Images PA Archive / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

U2 mourned the loss of their manager Dennis Sheahan after he was found dead in an LA hotel room on 27 May.


Charles Kennedy, the former leader of the Lib Dems in the UK, died suddenly on 1 June. He was 55 years old.

Former All Black Jerry Collins and his wife Alana died in a French motorway crash on 5 June. Their two-month old daughter survived.

Legendary actor Christopher Lee died on 7 June at the age of 93. He was best known for his dark roles in films such as The Wicker Man, Dracula, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Christopher Lee - DVD launch EMPICS Sports Photo Agency EMPICS Sports Photo Agency

The man behind the Sunday Game theme tune, James Last, died on 10 June. He was 86.

Oliver! star Ron Moody who played Fagin in the 1968 hit movie, died aged 91 on 11 June.

On the same day, food critic, restaurateur and broadcaster Paolo Tullio was laid to rest.

On 12 June, former professional wrestler Dusty Rhodes died, aged 69.

Tipperary legend Jimmy Doyle won six All-Ireland medals with the Premier County. He died on 22 June.

James Horner, who composed My Heart Will Go On for the Titanic movie died in a plane crash on 23 June. He was 61.

Star of The Avengers – one of the most famous shows in the 1960s – Patrick Macnee died on 26 June, aged 93.

RTE presenter of Trom agus Éadrom in the 1970s Liam Ó Murchú passed away on the 29 June. He was 86.

o murchu RTE RTE


Irish singer and TV entertainer Val Doonican died on 1 July, aged 88.

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Following a fight against cancer, actress Diana Douglas passed away on 5 July. The ER and West Wing star was 92 years old.

PastedImage-23014 Kirk and Diana Douglas pose with their second son, Joel, in 1947.

Omar Shariff, award-winning star of Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, died at the age of 83 on 10 July.

PastedImage-75364 Sharif with Irish director Jim Sheridan in Dublin last year. Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

Ten months after suffering catastrophic injuries at the Japanese Grand Prix, Formula 1 driver Jules Bianchi passed away on 17 July. He was 25 years old.

EL Doctorow, one of America’s most accomplished novelists of recent decades, died on 21 July at the age of 84.

After spending six months in hospital, Bobbi Kristina Brown – daughter of the late Whitney Houston – passed away on 26 July.

Peter O’Sullevan, whose dulcet tones and well-chosen words earned him the moniker the ‘Voice of Racing’, died aged 97 on 29 July.

Stuart Baggs, a former star of The Apprentice was found dead at his apartment on 30 July. He was 27.

Derry footballer Aaron Devlin fell ill in July and a week later passed away in hospital on 30 July. He was just 22 years old.

PastedImage-32929 Aaron Devlin in action last year with Derry against Mayo. Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO


Wrestling legend Rowdy Roddy Piper died, aged 61, on 1 August.

Blind Date star Cilla Black suffered a stroke and died on 2 August. She was 72 years old.

Britain Obit Cilla Black AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Actor George Cole, best known for his work as Arthur Daley on Minder, passed away on 6 August.

98FM’s sports broadcaster Johnny Lyons died suddenly on 18 August. He was found in his home in Dublin and remembered fondly by all those in Ireland’s sporting community.

British driver Justin Wilson, 37, died in after suffering severe head injuries in a freak accident on 23 August.

Wes Craven, the 76-year-old director of Scream and A Nightmare on Elm Street, died on 31 August. He had been suffering from brain cancer. 

Obit Wes Craven AP Photo / Matt Sayles AP Photo / Matt Sayles / Matt Sayles


The GAA world mourned Tipperary hurler Eddie Connolly who died on 17 September after a battle with cancer. He was just 29 years old.

PastedImage-75509 Eddie Connolly in action against Cork's Mark Sugrue in the 2012 Munster intermediate semi-final Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO / INPHO

Incredibly popular novelist Jackie Collins passed away on 20 September at the age of 77.

One of baseball’s legends, Yogi Berra, died on 23 September at the age of 90.

Central Criminal Court judge Paul Carney died on 24 September less than a year after retiring from the bench. He was 72, a husband and father of four.

Pat Dunne played in goals for Shamrock Rovers, Manchester United and Ireland during the 1960s. He passed away on 25 September after a short illness. He was 72.


Daredevil Johnny Strange died in the Swiss Alps on 2 October while attempting a wingsuit jump. He was 23 years old.

PastedImage-65622 strangeworld01 / YouTube strangeworld01 / YouTube / YouTube

Ireland mourned its best-known playwright, Brian Friel, after his death on 2 October. He was 86 years old and tributes were led by Taoiseach Enda Kenny who called him one of the ‘giants of theatre’.


The man who led Everton FC to multiple title wins in the 1980s, Howard Kendall, died on 17 October, aged 69.

Just weeks after giving an emotional and brave interview to Ryan Tubridy on the Late Late Show, former Enterprise Ireland chairman Hugh Cooney passed away. He was 63 and had been battling cancer for two years.

Louth footballer Stephen Melia died on 23 October. He made 179 appearances for the Wee County between 1985 and 2002.

On 24 October, iconic Irish actress Maureen O’Hara passed away. She was 95 years old. Her illustrious career began in the 1930s when she made her debut in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

PastedImage-74921 Maureen O’Hara is shown in a scene from the movie “McLintock in 1963. P / Press Association Images P / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

A familiar face since his acting days on Happy Days, Al Molinaro died on 30 October. He was 96.

PastedImage-65541 AP AP


A 6ft 6in lawyer-turned-actor-turned-Senator, Fred Thompson fitted a lot into his 73 years on earth. He died on 1 November.
E.T. screenwriter Melissa Mathison died, aged 65, on 5 November.

Melissa had a heart that shined with generosity and love and burned as bright as the heart she gave E.T.

Legendary Irish jockey Pat Eddery died at the age of 63 on 10 November.

New Orleans musician and composer Allen Toussaint, who penned Lady Marmalade, died after suffering a heart attack following a concert he performed in Spain on 10 November. He was 77.

PastedImage-113 EMPICS Sports Photo Agency EMPICS Sports Photo Agency

The rugby world lost its first ever global superstar when Jonah Lomu passed away suddenly on 18 November. The All Blacks 19-stone, 6’5″ winger could run 100m in 10.8 seconds, scored 37 tries in 63 senior appearances for New Zealand. He was just 40 years old.


BRITAIN LIVE 8 Velvet Revolver's Slash, left, and Scott Weiland perform at the Live 8 concert in Hyde Park, London in 2005. AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Former lead singer of Velvet Revolver and Stone Temple Pilots Scott Weiland passed on 4 December. He was 48.

On the say day, actor Robert Loggia died after a five-year fight against Alzheimer’s. He was best known for his roles in Scarface and Big. He was 85.

Emmerdale lost one of its long timers, Shirley Stelfox, on 7 December. She had played Edna Birch on the show for 15 years. She was 74.

Kildare councillor Willie Crowley died on 18 December, days after sustaining serious injuries in an alleged hit-and-run incident. He was 65 years old.

The footballing world went into mourning on 19 December on hearing of the passing of former Match of the Day presenter, the iconic Jimmy Hill.

PastedImage-80408 PA Wire PA Wire

On 27 December, Irish author Aidan Higgins passed away in his Cork nursing home. He was 88 and President Michael D Higgins led the tributes.

Motörhead frontman Lemmy passed away on 28 December after being diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, aged 70. Born Ian Fraser Kilmister, he founded Motorhead in 1975, and continued recording and touring with the band until his death.

MotörheadBander / YouTube

Ex-Newcastle United goalkeeper Pavel Srnicek died on 29 December after suffering a heart attack. He was 47.

The Specials powerhouse drummer John ‘Brad’ Bradbury died, aged 62, on 29 December.

At just 26 years of age, Kerry footballer Patrick Curtin died in America on 29 December. He had an accident in Guatemala in early December and was transferred to the US for treatment.


Read: Deaths in 2014: Saying goodbye to those we loved and lost this year>

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