Date Released: 11 February 2014
Strong pillars on solid rock, are the best foundations for any lasting institution. Our dear colleague, Ronnie Masterson, was such an institution. Her seventy year career as an actress, theatre director and staunch union activist will never be surpassed.
Born in April 1926, in Dublin, Ronnie began her professional career at the Abbey Theatre and first appeared on stage there in 1944. It was there that she met and then married actor Ray McAnally in 1945. Two years later she was a founding member of W.A.M.A., the actors and managers association that was a forerunner of Irish Actors Equity.
Since that time, Ronnie gave her unstinting support and devotion to every aspect of her profession, including her husband, Ray and their talented children, Conor, Aonghus, Máire and Niamh, creating a much respected theatrical dynasty of their own. On leaving the Abbey, and a succession of very diverse parts, Ronnie played in the Paris, Edinburgh and Dublin Theatre Festivals on many occasions and broadcast regularly on ‘Radio Eireann‘.
Having set up Old Quay Productions with Ray, she ran the company and, for more than two decades provided gainful employment for many actors with Gaiety Theatre productions of, Who‘s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?, The Odd Couple, Relatively Speaking and the Irish Premier of Alfie in 1969, in which, I had the honour of performing with her for the first time.
Her reputation as an outstanding actress was cemented in July 1970 when she played the title role in “Big Maggie” at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre and received the glowing notices that her deep interpretation deserved. This led to several tours of the United States in, J.B. Keane‘s The Matchmaker, and solo shows of her own creation. In 1978 she starred as Mrs Bennett in Pride and Prejudice which transferred from packed houses in the Oscar Theatre, Ballsbridge, to the Olympia Theatre for another prolonged run, again to glowing notices for her “scatter-brained” performance, highlighting her versatility.
Her continuing work for Equity and SIPTU knew no bounds, serving with distinction as a Trustee and Executive Committee member for several decades.
She continued to work steadily in films throughout he career and until quite recently, appearing in, The Dawning, Bloom, The Real Charlotte, Shoot to Kill, Fool’s of Fortune, The Sea Captain and Angela’s Ashes.
To use the phrase, “her like will never be seen again” will be a sentiment shared by all those who were lucky enough to know and work with Ronnie. Not only the Theatre, but the World will be a poorer place without her vibrant presence. Her legacy and impact, however, will never diminish, ensuring that her memory will continue to burn ever-bright!
A tribute written by Laurence Foster. Laurence served on the Equity Executive alongside Ronnie for many years