Plaque unveiled in memory of playwright and Hackney charity worker Joe Crilly

PUBLISHED: 11:37 06 July 2018 | UPDATED: 11:43 06 July 2018

Joe Crilly.

Joe Crilly.


A plaque commemorating the life of a playwright and charity worker has been unveiled this week after his death last year.

Housing association Peabody is paying tribute to former befriending service worker Joe Crilly, who helped tenants in danger of social isolation.

Joe, a former playwright and actor, killed himself last year. The event yesterday also saw the launch of The Crilly Trilogy, which features three of his plays – On McQuillan’s Hill, Second-Hand Thunder and Kitty & Damnation.

The book has tributes from Joe’s son Redmond and actor Hugh Bonneville, who starred in Downton Abbey and Paddington. Bonneville and Joe were friends from their days at National Youth Theatre in the early 1980s and Bonneville worked on Kitty & Damnation, which was first staged in London in 2009.

He said: “I was blown away by the tumbling, lyrical flow of language and the relish of telling a tale. The sheer energy of the dialogue: raw and piercing, adventurous and full of mischievous glee. Taste the writing, savour the man.”

The book’s editor Ronan McGreevy said: “We, his friends and family, hope that by bringing out this trilogy, we will be fostering the revival of these marvellous plays. I hope theatre companies embrace and stage these works. Few playwrights wrote with such authenticity about the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Joe did so with humour and insight. He spent 30 years in London, but his heart and sensibility never strayed far from the shores of Lough Neagh where he grew up.”

Peabody colleagues also paid tribute to Joe.

“It was an absolute pleasure working with and learning from him,” said volunteer services manager Sarah Feleppa. “One of the most endearing things about him was that he was genuinely interested in people, their experiences and the stories they had to tell. This is probably why he was so good at telling stories himself. He is genuinely missed.”

Volunteer development partner Jeanette Manu also spoke highly of Joe’s interest in other people. “He was such a free spirit zipping around London on his bike visiting the most vunerable of our residents and linking them up with befrienders,” she said. “His work made a huge difference to the life of our residents.”

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