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Remembering the Irish men and women we lost in 2018

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 screens and airwaves for decades. 

Join us as we take a look back at those we lost over the last 12 months.


On 3 January Former Supreme Court justice Donal Barrington, who played a significant role in helping Irish women access contraception, died at the age of 89.

Barrington also served as a Supreme Court judge, he was the first President of the Irish Human Rights Commission and was a founding member of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties 

On 7 January, former attorney general Peter Sutherland died at the age of 71. Sutherland was Ireland’s youngest attorney general and had a distinguished legal career and also a highly successful business career.

original Peter Sutherland, pictured in 2015.

On 15 January Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan passed away at a hotel in London, aged 46. An inquest into the singer’s death held in September heard that O’Riordan drowned due to alcohol intoxication. 

TheCranberriesVEVO / YouTube

Popular racing trainer Peter Casey passed away aged 82 on 27 January. The Dublin trainer is also remembered as a viral sensation after he told RTÉ’s Tracy Piggott that he was going to “have sex tonight”, live on television.

Jim-Jim Nugent / YouTube


Sex worker and rights advocate Laura Lee passed away suddenly on 7 February. The Dublin activist was an independent escort based in Glasgow and had been a vocal campaigner against laws criminalising people for purchasing sex.

On 9 February, former Ireland international Liam Miller passed away aged 36. The Cork native had been battling pancreatic cancer. A tribute match was held in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on 25 September which raised €1.5 million. 

Liam Miller Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO


On 4 March author Emma Hannigan passed away at Blackrock Clinic at the age of 45 following a long battle with cancer. Emma was first diagnosed with the disease in 2007. She went on to battle cancer a harrowing 11 times.

90407159_90407159_90538783 Rollingnews Rollingnews

Former Ceann Comhairle Sean Treacy who spent nearly four decades in public office, passed away aged 94 on 24 March. The Clonmel man served as TD for Tipperary South from 1961 to 1997. 

On 28 March, former Tipperary ladies footballer, Rachel Kenneally passed away at the age of 26. 


On 1 April, Fr Joseph Mallin, the only surviving child of an executed leader of the 1916 Rising, died at the age of 104. Mallin was the son of Commandant Michael Mallin who was in command of the Irish Citizen Army at St Stephen’s Green during Easter week.

The Jesuit priest has lived in Hong Kong since leaving Ireland for missionary work in 1948. In 2016, he was made a Freeman of Dublin.

joseph-mallin-birthday-hong-kong-390x285-390x285-2-390x285 The Malin family The Malin family

On 11 April, Overtones singer Timmy Matley passed away at the age of 36, just months before the band were due to go on tour.

The Cork man was diagnosed with stage three malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer, in September 2016.

capture-1187-310x415 Timmy Matley Timmy Matley via Twitter Timmy Matley via Twitter

Country star Big Tom McBride passed away “peacefully in the company of his family” aged 81 on 17 April.

The Monaghan native, best known as the frontman of Big Tom and the Mainliners, had been playing live up until his death.

He formed the Mainliners in the mid-1960s – and made a career breakthrough after an appearance on RTÉ’s Showband Show singing ‘Gentle Mother’.

Murphy Videos / YouTube

On 20 April child psychologist David Carey passed away following a battle with cancer.

Dr Carey had been a long-time panellist of Newstalk’s Sean Moncrieff show, contributing to its weekly parenting slot every Wednesday for almost a decade.

Sister of Jo Jo Dullard, Mary Phelan, died at her home in Kilkenny after a short illness, on 20 April.

Her close friend, Fianna Fail TD, John McGuinness said she never got closure following her sister’s disappearance more than 20 years ago. The 21-year-old’s disappearance shocked Ireland when she vanished without a trace in November 1995.

00009584_9584 (1) Mary Phelan holding a poster of her sister in 1997.


On 3 May, former Fine Gael TD Monica Barnes died at the age of 82.

President Michael D Higgins was among the dozens to pay tributes to Barnes.

Monica was a proud feminist and championed women’s rights throughout her parliamentary career and beyond. She was a pioneer in the struggle for a space for women’s rights to be discussed.

FIANNA FAIL TD MONICA BARNES. 1990 Photo: Eamonn Farrell/ Barnes pictured in 1990. Eamonn Farrell via Rollingnews Eamonn Farrell via Rollingnews

Michael Stokes who featured on RTÉ’s Room To Improve died on 8 May following a fall.

The 15-year-old featured on the show in 2016 as architect Dermot Bannon attempted to transform his foster parents’ home to suit his needs.

On 16 May, Irish playwright Tom Murphy passed away at the age of 83.

Among his key works were A Whistle in the Dark, The Sanctuary Lamp and The Gigli Concert.

President Michael D Higgins led tributes to the Galway man, saying that his contribution to Irish theatre “is immeasurable and outstanding”. 

File Photo Writer Tom Murphy Has Died. End. Eamonn Farrell via Rollingnews Eamonn Farrell via Rollingnews


On 8 June actor Alan O’Neill, best known in Ireland for his role as Keith McGrath in Fair City, died in Los Angeles. 

O’Neill moved to the US, where he secured a role on the hit TV show Sons of Anarchy for season six and seven.

On 13 June, Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe House, and mother-in-law of famous Irish food writer Darina Allen, passed away aged 94.

The Cork-born Michelin star-winning chef died in hospital surrounded by her family


On 13 July, jockey Laura Barry lost her long battle with a rare form of nerve cancer at the age of 25. 

The Limerick rider had moved from her hometown to Yorkshire to pursue a career in horse racing eight years ago, and she was due to marry fellow jockey Ben Hamilton the day before she died. 

Martin O’Donoughe one of six TDs appointed as a minister on their first day in the Dáil, passed away aged 85 on 21 July.

O’Donoghue served as Economic Planning and Development Minister from 1977 to 1979 and as Education Minister in 1982.



On 4 August, Donegal fiddler Tommy Peoples died aged 70. 

Peoples, who was born in St Johnston, played with the Bothy Band as well as being a solo musician.

On 9 August, Traveller rights campaigner Nan Joyce passed away aged 78. 

The mother of ten was a founding member of the Committee for the Rights of Travellers. 


On 21 Augustformer Clare footballer Michael O’Shea, who lined out for his county at senior level for 15 seasons, passed away after a cancer illness. 

The Kilkee native made his debut for the Clare senior side in 1999 and was involved until he retired from the inter-county game in 2014.

original Clare's Michael O'Shea celebrating their 2012 Munster semi-final win over Limerick INPHO INPHO


Women’s rights activist Sylvia Meehan passed away on 6 September aged 89, following a long illness. 

Meehan served as chair of the women’s committee of the ICTU, as first chairperson and CEO of the Employment Equality Agency and in her later years as President of the Senior Citizen’s Parliament.

original (1) Eamonn Farrell via Rollingnews Eamonn Farrell via Rollingnews

On 8 September founder of the Phoenix Magazine John Mulcahy died aged 86. 

Australian-born in 1932, Mulcahy had lived in Ireland since moving to the country as a child.

original (2)


On 7 October Emma Mhic Mhathúna, one of the women at the centre of the Cervical Check scandal, passed away at the age of 37.  

Mhic Mhathúna was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2016, three years after a smear test result incorrectly came back as normal.

Papal Visit to Ireland 2018 Emma Mhic Mhathúna and her children. / YouTube

The King of Tory Island, Patsy Dan Rodgers, passed away aged 74 on 20 October. 

He became King of Tory in the 90s when the children of the last King, Padraig Óg Rodgers, asked him to become King.

Tory 2_90536983 Pictured playing the accordion (right) is King of Tory Island Patsy Dan Rodgers.

On 21 October, former  TD Seymour Crawford died at the age of 74.

Crawford represented the Cavan-Monaghan constituency from 1992 until 2011, and had served for many years on Monaghan County Council prior to that.

00013932_13932-390x285 Crawford in 1998.

On 26 October music promoter John Reynolds died at his home in Dublin at the age of 52. 

Reynolds was one of Ireland’s leading independent festival and concert promoters, whose company POD founded festivals including Electric Picnic, Forbidden Fruit and Metropolis. 



Leonard Enright, who hurled for Limerick from 1971 to ’88, passed away on 3 November aged 65.

Enright won two Munster senior hurling titles and two National Leagues with Limerick. He also picked up three All-Star awards during a four-season stretch (1980, ’81 and ’83).

leo-enright-310x415 INPHO INPHO

Renowned musician and composer Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin passed away on 8 November aged 67.

Emeritus Professor of Music at the University of Limerick, Ó Súilleabháin was chair and founding director of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance.

IFTAAwards / YouTube

On 15 November,  showband singer Sonny Knowles died aged 86. 

The performer had a long and glittering career which he started in Dublin in the 1950s as a clarinet player. He eventually went on to perform with The Pacific Showband and the Earl Grill Showband before going solo.

Ryan / YouTube

Alec Finn, one of the founding members of traditional music group De Dannan, passed away aged 74 on 16 November. 

Finn was a famed bouzouki player with the band and was one of the members of the band when they released their eponymous first album in 1975.

Trad TG4 / YouTube

On 18 November, Radio Kerry broadcaster Weeshie Fogarty passed away at the age of 77.  

Fogarty was a figure synonymous with Kerry GAA, having represented the county footballers at senior level before embarking on a refereeing career and later as a radio commentator and broadcaster.


RTÉ Radio One music presenter Sandy Harsch died aged 76 on 20 November, after a short illness. 

Born in Rhode Island in the US, Harsch spent more than half a century living in Ireland. Since 1996, she had presented Country Time on RTÉ Radio One.

sandy-harsch-310x415 RTÉ RTÉ


On 6 December, actor Dónall Farmer died aged 81. 

Dónall was widely known for playing the priest Fr Tim Devereux in RTÉ’s long-running drama Glenroe.

90198064_90198064 Eamonn Farrell / Eamonn Farrell / /

On 14 December, the former president of the Workers’ Party Sean Garland died at the age of 84.

The Worker’s Party paid tribute to Garland as one of those who “most influenced and shaped” the party over several decades.

File Photo Sean Garland who is lying In Repose today at Liberty Hall. End.

Eileen Battersby, the former literary correspondent of the Irish Times, died on 23 December at the age of 60 following a car crash in Meath. President Michael D Higgins paid tribute to her, saying, “All of us owe her a debt of gratitude for her unstinting efforts to bring the best writers from around the world to our attention”. 

ICDublin / YouTube

 Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anamnacha dílis

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