Time has set Anna Manahan free and all the praise, fond remembrance and fine eulogy can only commit to memory her life, that in the words of E E Cummings –
the goal of Living is to grow
And what a life it was; fired by fierce ambition to be an actress and to fret her hour of fame upon many stages in many places, where acting is highly regarded. She served her time over a long career and lived to enjoy and savour a Tony Award and the Freedom of her beloved Waterford. She would have loved the funeral, her ceremony of remembrance.
“In time of all sweet things beyond,
whatever mind may comprehend,
remember see (forgetting find)”
She would have revelled in the acclaim the procession of City Fathers, Mayor in full regalia and a gathering of her peers, her fellow actors to applaud her to her final resting place.
“When all’s done and said
And under the grass
Lives her head
By oaks and roses.”
I was privileged to see her stand on the stage of the Theatre Royal with Red Kettle, as an audience sang, Forever Blowing Bubbles. I saw her captivate a Cork audience, in the Everyman Palace in Declan Hassett’s, Sisters and the audience rising in glorious acclaim.
I saw her accept the Freedom Of The City and felt the immense pride she had in that honour.
But I saw her more intimate, less theatrical settings, sharing the humanity of simple kindness. When Terry Kiely, who ran errands and small kindnesses for her, met four of his sisters who had been scattered away from Waterford and returned on an emotional journey to seek out their roots, Anna invited them to her house for tea and a simple human sharing of one Waterford sister to another.
I saw her chide a group of young teenage actors and remind them sharply of the dedication needed to the craft of acting. Respect was high on her list of demands and she treasured it enough to remind people of its importance. Later she sat with those young people chatting like a kindly granny figure.
I saw her adjudicate at a drama festival and later sit in the supper room and chat with the Carrick-on-Suir cast of Bailegangaire and acknowledge the place and dedication of being an actor in a community.
Now she expects, as is her due, and a due hard earned, to be remembered –
“And in a mystery to be
When time from time
Shall set us free
Goodnight dear Anna, may angels attend thee with sweet applause.