#SLIDESHOW: Tributes paid to Limerick panto giant and ‘gentleman’ John Finn

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

TRIBUTES have been paid to Limerick panto giant and 'theatre stalwart' John Finn, who sadly passed away after bravely battling illness.

Finn, originally from Thomondgate but who was living with his family on the Mill Road in Corbally, passed away peacefully on Sunday at St James Hospital in Dublin after battling illness for some time.

He is survived by his loving wife Sandra, children Sean and Caitriona, mother Breda, sister Bríd, brother Mike and extended family and friends.

The Limerick man was a founding member of Limerick Panto Society and worked with all the major music and drama groups across Limerick - as well as on school productions with Laurel Hill, Crescent College Comprehensive, Ardscoil Ris and many more.

His great friend and fellow long-time Eir employee and founder of the Panto Society Tony Cusack said he was “steeped” in the society and was a “pure gentleman”.

“We founded the panto society together in 1985 and in the first year he played one of the Ugly Sisters. From then on, he was always involved, he even directed a few shows, he wrote the scripts and painted the sets and drove the trucks, starred in the productions and made the teas and coffees - he was that kind of a guy,” said Tony, who started in P&T, as it was, in the same month in September 1979.

“He was the heart and soul of it, a very quiet kind of man - the typical traditional actor, I suppose, in that he would be a quiet man in conversation in general life and then took on different personas when he went up on stage. He has just left such a huge vacuum, it is unbelievable for us as a society. He was steeped in it.

"He had a great pair of hands, he was a fine artist in terms of set - he was an all-rounder. He was a proud Limerickman.

"He said for his send off, he wanted a good session, and that is what he will get - music and he wanted the mass to be a production in terms of having songs and music and that is the way his life was."

Most recently, John played the villain and wrote the script for the Panto Society's the production of Snow White, where he was described as being "part of the fabric" of the theatre.

Limerick Panto Society said it was "with a heavy heart, that we share the unfortunate and untimely passing of our John, may he rest in peace.

"No amount of words will ever be enough to express how much this amazing man meant to us and how sorely he will be missed.

"John was completely steeped in the society from the beginning. He fought an incredible battle and he did it with the courage and strength that he portrayed in every character he played. He was always there with a helping hand doing everything he possibly could. With his witty charm and a welcoming smile on his face he helped form the happy Panto Society we are today.

"John was a family man, and the only thing that came before his many theatre families was his loving wife, children, mother and siblings.

"We would like to thank everyone for their kind words and memories over the last few days.

"On behalf of our society we'd like to extend our most heartfelt condolences to Sandra, Seán, Caitríona, Breda, Mike, Bríd and his extended family and friends.

"A man of few words, but many scripts."

In a Facebook post, College Players paid tribute to "a Limerick theatre stalwart and friend".

"A giant of the stage in more ways than one. Writer, actor, comedy king, panto 'everything', and downright gentleman on and off the stage. A finer character actor you could not meet, who showed his craft across every genre of theatre in Limerick," it says.

"We just know that he is already working on a script for those of this tight knit community who have gone before in the past couple of years. We'll miss you John, as will all who lived with you, loved you, worked with you and had had the pleasure of your company on stage and off. Rest in Peace."

John Finn will repose at home this Tuesday from 5.30pm to 7.30pm. Funeral arriving at St. Munchin’s Church on Wednesday for 12 noon Mass. Funeral after to Shannon Crematorium. No flowers please, donations, if desired, to Milford Care Centre – Day Care. House private outside reposal times.