Ray Mc Anally

Black and White image of Ray with two small children
Ray, Conor and Aonghus

Born on 30th March 1926 in Buncrana, Co. Donegal, Ray McAnally was educated at Saint Eunan’s college, Letterkenny. During his time there, he wrote, produced and staged a musical called ‘Madame Screwball’. Upon leaving, Ray entered the seminary but left again a short time after. In 1947 he joined the Abbey Theatre where he met and married actress Ronnie Masterson. Together they formed Old Quay Productions, putting on an array of classic plays throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

He made a triumphant London theatre debut in 1962 with "A Nice Bunch of Cheap Flowers" and was cast as George in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" opposite legendary British actress, Constance Cummings, at the Piccadilly Theatre. He routinely acted in the Abbey and at various Irish festivals, achieving award-winning notice on TV and films in the last decade of his life. His impressive performance as Cardinal Altamirano in the film “The Mission” (1986) earned him Evening Standard and BAFTA awards. His role in the BBC production of “A Perfect Spy"(1987) also earned him a BAFTA award.

In the last year of his life, McAnally portrayed the role of Daniel Day-Lewis' father in the Academy Award-winning film “My Left Foot” (1989). McAnally died suddenly of a heart attack on June 15th of that year and received a posthumous BAFTA award for this, his last movie. McAnally had four children; Conor, Aonghus, Máire and Niamh.

Growing up in an atmosphere of theatre and television, it was quite natural that Ray’s children would follow him into the entertainment industry. Ray’s son, Conor is a professional television producer/director with 30 years experience in music and television programming. He has been Director, Producer, Writer or Executive Producer of more than 2000 show episodes in a wide range of genres . His shows have won 22 major awards including 5 British Academy Awards and 3 from the Royal Television Society

Ray’s son Aonghus is a well known TV presenter and personality in Ireland, working on various renowned RTÉ TV and radio productions including ‘Anything Goes” and “The Lyrics Board”. The brothers recollect that summer caravan holidays on Shrove beach in Co. Donegal were very special: ‘playing on the sand dunes was a thrill as an innocent 8 year old!’says Aonghus.

One summer Conor was featured on the John Hinde postcard of the harbour in Moville. Aonghus jokes that for years he has resented the fact that Conor never called him to be in the picture, despite the fact he was only around the corner. Due to hectic work schedules and geography, both brothers regret that they are not able to visit Donegal more often but when they do, Aonghus claims that they have a definite sense of feeling closer to their father:

‘Whenever I am there I feel his spirit around me. We are all formed by our memories of parents and Donegal was a pivotal part of who and what he was… If it’s your county or your people’s county then when you touch the soil under foot then you are home. Simple as that!’.