Vincent Dowling left this tortured earth (5/11/13) at a time when his presence and its voice was more needed and missed, than ever in his mellifluous yet unrestrained and courageously candid career. Among his most notable theatrical achievements, beyond the directorship of Dublin’s famed Abbey Theatre, was his giving life to the bedeviling barkeep belittler of political poltroonery, “Mr. Dooley,” who was the creation of Peter Finley Dunne but earned eternal theatrical eminence, via Dowling’s portrayal for the Irish Repertory Theatre’s significant New York production, which achieved historic proportions and endowed both the character and star with a special fraternal identity, that still persists.
This commentator recalls one of his many attempted political retirements, to fulfill the poetic urge, this one from the Governorship of Mario Cuomo, to launch the “Voices-In-Verse-Ensemble,” for readings on radio and other public venues. We were invited to read at Vincent’s Miniature Theatre, in Chester, Massachusetts, on a Monday evening, reserved for such events. Waiting our turn, we were witness to a rare treat: the master’s initial introduction of his “Mr. Dooley,” to his eventual characterization. It was unforgettable and profound. The echoes of its eternal certitude still abound… as does our eternal gratitude.