Sadness at death of Tom English, leader of famous Limerick theatre's 'golden era'

Fintan Walsh


Fintan Walsh

Tom English, pictured outside the Savoy Hotel in Limerick in 2015

Tom English, pictured outside the Savoy Hotel in Limerick in 2015

THE MAN who led the “golden era” of Limerick theatre and cinema, Tom English, has passed away.

The former manager of the famous Savoy Theatre in the city died peacefully at St John’s Hospital on Monday evening, aged 85.

From County Limerick stock, he spent his childhood years in Butlerstown, Co Waterford, but moved to Hospital, Co Limerick aged 15.

In later years he resided with his family at Clanmorris Avenue and, latterly, O’Connell Avenue.

Tom spent eight years leading the popular entertainment venue on Bedford Row and Henry Street, after being appointed to the top job at just 22 in 1954.

In November 2015, Tom marked the 80th anniversary of the Savoy Theatre with current Savoy Hotel managing director Ronan Branigan, who described Tom’s time as chief as the “golden era” for cinema in the city.

Tom, beloved husband of Anne, is the father of prominent Limerick journalists Alan and Tom and career consultant Sinead.

Alan, who was editor of the Limerick Leader from 2007 to 2016, is group editorial director of Iconic Newspapers, which owns the Limerick Leader. His brother Tom is BBC Scotland’s chief sports writer.

In 2012, Tom delivered a moving eulogy at the funeral of his close friend Jack Bourke, the three-time Mayor of Limerick, reflecting that while many of his oldest friends had passed on, like Jack, he was left with great memories of happy times.

Always up to date with Limerick news, he had a lifelong affection for the Limerick Leader newspaper, and there was no more loyal reader of the paper in Limerick. In his early days as manager of the Savoy, he would meet regularly with the Leader's advertising manager and entertainment writer, the late Earl Connolly, who was another good friend.

Savoy manager Ronan Branigan said he was “very sad” to hear of Tom’s passing. 

“He was a titan of the Irish entertainment business and it was no accident that he was manager of the Savoy, the biggest and busiest theatre in the country at the time.

“An innovator and a maverick, he bridged eras bringing in Limerick into the modern entertainment age. Our thoughts here at the new Savoy are with his wife Anne, Alan, Sinead, Tom and the extended family. May he rest in peace."

Tom English, beloved husband of Anne, deeply loved father of Alan, Sinead and Tom. Sadly missed by his daughters–in-law Anne and Lynn, son-in-law John, grandchildren Aisling, Holly, Jack, Emmet, Aoibhinn, Hugh, Eilidh and Tom, brothers Tony, Michael, sisters Olivia, Tess, Luce, brothers in law, sisters in law, nephews and nieces, extended family and his many friends. Rest in peace.

Reposing at Thompsons Funeral Home, Thomas Street, Limerick this Wednesday from 5pm to 7pm, followed by removal to St. Joseph's Church, O’Connell Avenue. Requiem Mass Thursday at 11.30am, funeral afterwards to St Nicholas cemetery, Adare.