Joseph Tomelty

Joseph Tomelty (5 March 1911 – 7 June 1995) was a Northern Irish character actor and playwright. He worked in film, television, radio and on the stage, starring in Sam Thompson's 1960 play Over the Bridge. Joseph Tomelty was born in Portaferry, the eldest of seven children. His father was known as 'Rollickin' James' for his skill on the fiddle. He left his local primary school aged 12 and was apprenticed to the trade of housepainter, his father's trade. He moved to Belfast and attended classes at Belfast Technical College. Tomelty first acted with St Peter's Players and with others in 1937 and 1938 took part in discussions which led to the formation of the Northern Ireland Players on a more professional basis. Radio plays Barnum is Right and Elopement were broadcast in December 1938 and February 1939 respectively. The Northern Ireland Players chose the stage version of Barnum is Right for their first major commercial venture at the Empire in June 1939. In 1940 the Northern Ireland Players joined forces with the Ulster Theatre and the Jewish Institute Dramatic Society to form the Group Theatre, and in 1942 Tomelty became its general manager remaining in the post until 1951.


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