Clonmel is in mourning this week following the death of Mary Cummins, an iconic figure in the theatrical and musical life of Clonmel for many years.
Mary (nee Britton) sadly passed away on Sunday last in the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork where she had been ill for a number of weeks.
A niece of the late Tom Britton, a founder member of St. Mary’s Choral Society, it was only natural that she would have such a deep interest in, and love for, theatre in general and St. Mary’s Choral Society in particular. She played her first role at the tender age of 6 years and received a Clonmel Feile Award from the writer Walter Macken.
She made her first appearance with St. Mary’s Choral Society while still at school, followed by the comedy years with Jim O’Shea in several productions. It was fitting that Mary should have directed the first musical to be staged by the society when the White Memorial Theatre opened its doors in 1975 with HMS Pinafore. This was to be the first of twenty productions that she directed for St. Mary’s. The production earned Mary an AIMS nomination for Best Director, which was followed by four further Best Director nominations, including the award for Best Overall Director in 1985 for My Fair Lady, and a performance nomination for the Best Comedienne Award for her performance as Meg Brockie in Brigadoon in 1978.
Prior to that Mary had successfully directed three shows for local firm Clonmel Foods, which won awards in the Tops of the Town competition.
She had a varied involvement with St. Mary’s Choral Society throughout the years, serving on the committee as treasurer, secretary and committee member.
Having taken drama courses at The Old Vic in Bristol, she fulfilled a lifetime ambition in 1984 by opening her own drama school, The Gable Youth Theatre. Her students have graced the stages of theatres all over the world and are testament to her wonderful teaching and the love and appreciation of drama and musical theatre that she instilled in every child.
Most recently Mary taught drama in the Sisters of Charity School in Clonmel, where she continued to pass on her wonderful knowledge of drama to the next generation.
She is survived by her devoted husband Eddie, cousins, relatives and friends too numerous to mention, her students from the Gable Youth Theatre and the Sisters of Charity School and her fellow members of St. Mary’s Choral Society, who are all devastated by her loss.
It was appropriate that on the day of her death a number of her former students were among those named when the AIMS nominations for this year were announced.
Mary had also directed and produced the pageant at St. Patrick’s Well on St. Patrick’s Day for many years and her passing is also mourned by the St. Patrick’s Well Committee.
Her remains are reposing at her home, Bretonville, Abbey Road, Clonmel today (Wednesday, 23rd) with removal tomorrow, Thursday, 24th at 11.15 to St. Mary’s Church, Irishtown. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated on arrival at 12 noon followed by cremation at The Island Crematorium, Cork. Family flowers only. Donations, if desired, may be made to Bru Columbanus, Wilton, Cork.