A key figure on the local arts scene for decades, Jim’s was the distinctively bearded face that could be seen way up in the lighting box during countless Red Kettle and Waterford Youth Arts plays…and smoking his pipe in the stands during innumerable training, challenge, league and championship hurling matches.
A member of Red Kettle since its inception in 1985, Jim went to work in a variety of production roles, particularly as lighting designer, on a myriad of the company’s plays, notably ‘Happy Birthday Dear Alice’, Jim Nolan’s ‘The Guernica Hotel’, ‘Kings of the Kilburn Highroad’ in Waterford, London and New York, ‘Catalpa’, ‘The Queen and Peacock’ and many of Little Red Kettle’s plays including ‘The Four Euclids of Squid and The Festival of Imagination and Wild Fancy’ in Waterford, Dublin, Galway and Japan. Jim also lit many of the classics of World Theatre including a beautiful design for Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’.
Jim served as Chairman Red Kettle’s Board for a record-breaking number of years and saw the company through an unprecedented growth into one of the country’s great theatre companies. He always believed in developing the company through a policy of consensus – bringing everybody with him on what was a remarkable journey, according to Red Kettle’s Artistic Director Ben Hennessy. “His great social conscience, natural human warmth, his love of learning, his belief in the value of the arts to all of our lives, his love of the underdog and his willingness and ability to share all of his talents and love to all of us that worked with him enlightened all our lives and helped shape the people and company that we have become”, Ben told The Munster Express this week.
“His great spirit will also be missed around the country where many of these plays toured – his comradeship with all of the theatre workers he worked with – where he shared (with his pipe and a large bottle) in debate on all the social, literary and creative issues of the day.”
Jim lit many shows for Waterford Youth Arts (formerly Waterford Youth Drama) over the years, as well as writing extensively for the company. He also encouraged young writers through the creative writing class he ran for many years.
Olile Breslin of Waterford Youth Arts this week recalled Jim as ‘a great talker, pipe smoker, socialist and a fine man to have at any session, where he could be sure to sing a Cohen song’. The contribution of both Jim and his beloved wife Bernie to the arts in Waterford is immeasurable, Ollie added,
A native of the Cork Road, Jim resided for his married life at Glencarra, with his wife Bernie. The couple had five children, Elaine, Brian, Seamus, Suzanne and Orla and two grandchildren.
He will be sorely missed the many who had the good fortune to know him.