Patricia Cahill

Patricia Cahill was one of my favourite singers . Her first appearance in public was in Dublin’s Theater Royal at the age of seventeen. . Patricia Cahill “Sings for you”, her first commercial recording was recorded in Dublin and then reissued in the United States under the title “Danny Boy”.

Patricia Cahill (1966)

She appeared frequently on Irish television in the late 1960s and early 1970s, frequently with theater star Maureen Potter. Her song I Stand Still placed second in the Irish National Final for the Eurovision Song Contest in 1965. She appeared on the Val Doonican Show on November 18, 1970, and she was a regular on BBC Television’s Songs of Praise, hosted by Robert Dougal. During the early 1970s, Cahill appeared on RTÉ TV’s A Handful of Songs, which was broadcast across the then-ITV network. Until his death in 2013, Cahill was married to Ciaran O’Carroll. She lived in Marbella, Spain, until her death on May 11, 2022, at the age of 80

Irish Times obituary in 2022:

Born: March 3rd, 1942

Died: May 11th, 2022

Singer Patricia Cahill, who was a household name in entertainment in the 1960s and 1970s, has died aged 80. She will always be associated with her Moonlight and Roses duet with Maureen Potter, but she moved effortlessly between light opera, musicals, stage shows and pantomime, and also presented her own show on RTÉ. She had a loyal following abroad where she was billed as the Irish Nightingale.

She was the youngest of five children, born to Daniel and Mary Cahill in Ranelagh. They moved to Mourne Road in Drimnagh where she attended primary school at Our Lady of Good Counsel, before becoming a boarder at St Mary’s College in Arklow. Both schools were run by the Sisters of Mercy and she had very happy memories of her schooldays. “I owe so much to these nuns,” she told RTÉ presenter Mary Kennedy in an interview for the Nationwide show in 2016. “When they discovered I had a voice, they did everything to help me.”

Her first memory of singing in public was when she was 10 and she sang Once I Had a Secret Love at her dance class. When she was 12, the organist and composer Daniel McNulty heard her singing at a wedding and told her mother that she should have her voice trained. She started to take lessons with him and soon she was starring in Monday night shows in Our Lady’s Hall in Drimnagh.

After she left school, she went for an audition at Dublin’s Theatre Royal, hoping to get a week’s work before she took up a job with the ESB on Fleet Street. Instead, she was offered the chance to work on a variety show with comedian Jack Cruise, earning £10 a week.

The job offer changed the course of her life. She quickly became a regular fixture on playbills all over the country, but always credited the Theatre Royal with preparing her for a life on stage. Other venues did not faze her because she had performed in a theatre that could hold 4,000 people. She recalled that the stage was so big that a carriage and two ponies were able to do a full circle of the stage with ease during a production of Cinderella.

Conor Doyle, Theatre Royal historian, said Cahill rose to fame in a very gentle way. “She was such a lovely lady. She was not brash. She never came across as a showbiz person, but she was a superstar.”

Doyle’s godparents were the Gaiety director Ursula Doyle and her husband Jimmy O’Dea; when his parents went shopping in Dublin, they would leave him at the theatre where he chatted to Cahill.

Ursula Doyle paired her with Maureen Potter for what would become an iconic performance – the Moonlight and Roses duet. She played the part of a young girl going for an audition at a theatre where Potter was the cleaner.

She recalled the “thunderous” applause when they first performed it. “It was a reaction from an audience that I had never experienced… it was so spontaneous.”

Expressing her sadness at the death of the singer, Mary Kennedy said as a child growing up in the 1960s in Dublin, “the highlights of our year were the Gaiety panto and Gaels of Laughter, where Patricia and Maureen Potter enthralled us”.

Cahill became a regular guest on light entertainment television programmes, including The Late Late Show. Her work on the Dublin stage drew the attention of Avoca Records which released her first album, Ireland’s Patricia Cahill Sings for You, in the late 1960s. It was renamed Danny Boy when it was reissued in the United States. She later signed with the Decca label, and many more albums followed with Decca and other labels. Collaborations included an album with The Bachelors and a duets album with Scottish tenor Kenneth McKellar, recorded live at Wigmore Hall.

She had many loyal followers in Britain and performed in venues such as the Albert Hall, Victoria Palace and Blackpool’s Opera House, as well as on the BBC’s Val Doonican Show and Songs of Praise. One performance at the London Palladium in 1973 was particularly memorable. The Sunday night show was being broadcast live but dramatically went off the air after Cahill’s performance due to an IRA bomb scare.

Her regular appearances on television led to her own RTÉ show in 1977 – Patricia – which featured different guests every week. It was produced by John McColgan, long before he would become a household name with Tyrone Productions and Riverdance. He recalled that Cahill was a very big name in Ireland at that time. He encouraged her to introduce more contemporary music into her repertoire, including Janis Ian’s At Seventeen, which would become one of her favourite songs. RTÉ also released an album of songs from the series which sold very well. “It was a pleasure to work with her and we worked very well together,” he said. “She was just a lovely, gentle woman.”

Other work included her own annual season in the Savoy Hotel in London, as well as cabaret performances in landmark hotels such as the Mandarin in Hong Kong, and the Waldorf Astoria in New York.

A chance meeting in Switzer’s department store on Grafton Street in 1967 led to the luckiest day in her life, she once said. That was where she met a talented young pianist, Ciarán O’Carroll. He proposed to her on their second date, and they eventually married two years later. He became her manager, and friends said they were devoted to each other. The couple had their first child, Daniel, in London and they later settled in Elviria, in the south of Spain, where their daughter Madeleine was born.

They were married for 44 years before he died from motor neurone disease in 2013. The loss of her soulmate took a toll on her, as she explained in the Nationwide interview three years later. “I don’t think I’ve had a real sense of happiness since Ciarán died,” she said. “We were always happy, laughing and joking… I’m not unhappy… I’ve got my two lovely children who are great friends and great company… but I’ll always miss him until the day I die.”

Nevertheless, she made the most of the intervening years, spending time with her family and friends, returning to Dublin when she could, and retaining a strong interest in politics and current affairs.

She died in Marbella, after a short illness.

Patricia Cahill is survived by her son Daniel, daughter Madeleine and extended family.

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