Anna Manahan  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Anna Maria Manahan (18 October 1924 - 8 March 2009) was an Irish stage, film and television actress. She interpreted the works of, among others, Sean O'Casey, John B Keane, J. M. Synge, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Martin McDonagh, Christy Brown, and Brian Friel.


Manahan was born in County Waterford, Ireland. Her career began when she was recruited as a young woman by the legendary Irish empresarios and theatrical directors Micheál MacLiammóir and Hilton Edwards. She later married stage director Colm O'Kelly, who died not long afterwards of polio, which he contracted after swimming in the Nile during a theatre tour of Egypt. They had no children and she never remarried. She was known professionally by her maiden name.

In 1957, she played Serafina in the first Irish production of Tennessee Williams' The Rose Tattoo and achieved unexpected notoriety when she and several other members of the cast were arrested for alleged possession of a condom on stage.

Manahan played a minor role in the Irish cult soap opera The Riordans (1960s), and as Mrs. Kenefick in the TV comedy Me Mammy (1970s). She also played the lead in the Irish comedy series, Leave it to Mrs O'Brien (1980s) and Mrs. Cadogan in The Irish R.M. (1980s). Most recently she played Ursula on Fair City, for which her niece, Michele Manahan (daughter of Michael Manahan), is a writer.

She had an extensive theatre portfolio having played at theatres throughout Ireland, the UK, continental Europe, the USA and Australia. She won the Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama for her role as the exasperating, doomed mother, "Mag", in Martin McDonagh's The Beauty Queen of Leenane. She previously received a Tony nomination in 1969, in the equivalent category of Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Dramatic) for Brian Friel's Lovers.

The late Irish playwright John B. Keane wrote the play Big Maggie specifically for her. In 2001 she starred in Keane's The Matchmaker with veteran Irish actor Des Keogh. In 2005 she starred in Sisters, a new play by Declan Hassett that was also written for her. The production toured Ireland and was staged at the International Festival of World Theatre in Colorado. In 2006 the production played at the 59e59 Theater in New York City.

She appeared in films starring, among others, Laurence Olivier, Peter Cushing, Kenneth More, Maggie Smith, Albert Finney and Brenda Fricker.

She received the Gold Medal of the Éire Society of Boston in 1984 and thus joined the company of past recipients such as John F. Kennedy, and filmmakers John Ford and John Huston. She received an honorary doctorate in letters from the University of Limerick in 2003.

She was granted the freedom of the city of Waterford in 2002 in recognition of her life's achievement in the arts. She thus became the 28th Freeman of Waterford since Isaac Butt in 1877.

In 2004 she started to play the role of Ursula in Fair City.

Anna Manahan's death was announced on 8 March 2009.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Anna Manahan" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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