Derry lost one of its most beloved entertainers and cherished educators with the passing of Pat Mulkeen this week.
The dramatist and former St. Cecilia’s teacher passed away at The Foyle Hospice after a short illness. Mrs Mulkeen was well known within the performing arts community due to her substantial contributions to the cultural life of the city. It was though her contributions in the classrooms of St. Cecilia’s which will perhaps serve as her greatest legacy. Having taught English and PE from 1974 - 1992, Pat imparted the classics through drama. Her teaching style endeared her to all her pupils, many describing her classes as an escape from the troubles then enveloping the city.
Staff described her as: “A much loved and respected colleague and friend. Pat helped create strong independent young women which at that time was very progressive.”
The Creggan-born mother of Laura and John, undertook community training in drama at the University of Ulster in later life. As well as being a prominent member of Foyle Yarnspinners, Pat worked with prisoner’s groups and staged a number of theatre productions of her own. Mrs. Mulkeen’s play ‘Two Cream Cookies an’ a Wee German’ was a hit at Derry’s Waterside Theatre as recently as February. It was the second run of the play and was performed by the theatre group ‘Movers and Shakers,’ which was established by Pat.
After retiring from teaching Pat threw her energies into writing and her love of story telling. As well as her theatre work, she travelled the country speaking at story telling events. Indeed it proved a productive pursuit as Pat was shortlisted for the prestigious Listowel Writers Week Festival, the ‘Eamon Kelly, Adult Storytelling Competition Prize,’ two years in succession, 2010 and 2011. In doing so the Northland Road dramatist took her place alongside contemporaries such as Neil Jordan, John Connolly, Cathy Kelly and Richard Dawkins at the festival. Winning prizes wasn’t what interested Pat, but she did speak of her childish glee at being nominated. It was that infectious enthusiasm, partnered with her caring spirit, which ensured she was loved not only by those she taught but those she worked with. Nail Mc Caughan, of The Playhouse lamented the loss of; “A much loved woman. Pat’s manner allowed her to get the best from people. Pat had a larger than life presence. She always had a twinkle in her eye and a great ability to pass that twinkle on to others. Our thoughts are with her family. Their loss is shared by the entire city. Pat leaves a legacy of inspiration thanks to her work.”
Pat Mulkeen will be buried today following 10am Requiem Mass in St. Patrick’s Church, Pennyburn.