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Una Boylan, a driving force in popular Armagh Theatre Group

Obituary

The recent death of a woman who was a leading figure in a local arts organisation for more than half-a-century has caused much sadness.

Una Boylan was one of the driving forces of the Armagh Theatre Group since joining in the 1960s and held every committee position during those decades.

She was born on March 22, 1940, at Arthurs Villas in Armagh, which would be her home for a number of years.

She attended St Catherine's Primary School and then went to St Louis Convent in Kilkeel.

She attended Sacred Heart Grammar School in her final year.

At this time she became aware of speech therapy as a possible career. Little was known about it as an element of health, but she set off to London for her three-year training. She was believed to be the first from Northern Ireland to do so.

Having completed the course, Una returned to take up a position as speech therapist in Armagh.

Soon the importance of this field became evident and led to the establishment of a school of speech therapy here.

She joined Armagh Theatre Group in 1966, a year after its foundation, and quickly became an essential member. Her last performance on stage in 2016 was in 'Two's' and she was scheduled to take part in a comedy this autumn at her beloved Abbey Lane Theatre.

Colleagues said her enthusiasm was infectious and she never stopped recruiting to the ranks at every opportunity. Dozens of young, and not so young, actors got their break on stage due to her cajoling and encouragement.

The group said it will "forever be indebted to her drive, enthusiasm and good humour in her efforts to bring live drama to the people of Armagh".

During the time when violence and disturbances were daily occurrences she, along with others in Armagh Theatre Group, provided a vital cross-community focus for drama, resulting in the vibrant arts community that continues to blossom in the Cathedral City to this day.

Una was actively involved in the Armagh and District branch of the U3A (University of the Third Age) since its inception in 2011.

Indeed, it is probably true to say that the U3A would not have been established in Armagh had she not initiated it.

Una Boylan passed away at Blackrock Clinic on March 27.

She will be much missed by her sister Lila, brother Sean, nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews and cousins.

Belfast Telegraph

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