Tuesday 28 January 2020

Born entertainer Lar Roche brought joy to countless people

The late Lar Roche.
The late Lar Roche.
Lar meeting President Mary Robinson.

By Maria Pepper

There was widespread sadness at the unexpected passing of well-known Wexford Light Opera Society singer and entertainer Lar (Larry) Roche who died at Wexford General Hospital on June 7 at the age of 78. A huge sense of loss was felt throughout Wexford and beyond at the passing of a man who brought so much joy and good humour to the countless lives that he touched.

Though he was known to many through his involvement in the Light Opera Society, Lar was first and foremost a loving and devoted husband to Kitty. They were soulmates together, sharing a full and varied life for four decades.

Lar was born in Clonard in 1938 to parents Nick Roche and Bridget Murphy and later moved to Davitt Road South. His working life began as a boy with a milk round before school. Like so many of his generation he moved to London in the fifties where he worked for British Rail and the Royal Mail. He returned in the 1960's to work as a taxi driver in Dublin and then came home to his native Wexford town to work in ABS Pump. He married Kitty and they built their home in Hayestown Little, Murrintown.

As an entertainer in a family of entertainers, music, comedy and drama were in his blood. He was a consummate singer, actor and comedian and was noted for his performances in the Tops of the Town, with Cornmarket Players and of course with his beloved Wexford Light Opera Society which made him an Honorary Life Member.He served in many roles on-stage and off-stage with the Light Opera Society down through the years including chairman, committee member, set builder, leading man, AIMS nominee and box office manager. His most recent performance was in Hits from the Musicals in Clayton Whites Hotel last November when he sang more sweetly than ever.

Breaking the sad news of his death on its Facebook page, the Society said Lar was a familiar face to all who dealt with WLOS and despite ill-health over the last number of years, he always brought the house down with his performances .The Association of Irish Musical Societies (AIMS) extended sympathy to his family and said Lar would be missed often and fondly remembered. 'He'll shine bright and his commitment to his beloved WLOS will live on in the future.'

Describing him as 'a true gent', Rathangan Variety Group said Lar was the set designer for its first ever production, the play version of Oliver in 1999, and he had been a supporter of all their shows since.

Wexford Artists Community Theatre (WACT) said it heard of Lar's passing with 'great sadness' and thanked him for his 'enthusiasm for the arts and generosity of your time.'

Lar was a member of Piercestown and Murrintown Church choirs, an involvement which bore testimony to his life-long deep faith.

He loved children and his sports days at 'Forthlands', his home in Hayestown, will remain legendary among his many nieces and nephews.

He had a keen interest in horse racing. He enjoyed nothing more than studying the form and settling down for an afternoon's racing in the hope that some of his chosen investments would provide the desired return.

Lar was predeceased by his brothers John, Tom and Edward and is survived and sadly missed by his wife Kitty; his brothers Nick and Pat; sisters Elsie and Phyllis; nephews and nieces; his in-laws and wider family and friends.

Requiem mass took place at St. Catherine's Church, Murrintown. Fr. Aodhan Marken was chief celebrant, assisted by Canon Lorenzo Cleary and Fr. Jimmy Moynihan. Prayers at the house were led by Canon James B Curtis. Murrintown and Piercestown Church Choirs joined with Wexford Light Opera Society and family members in a fitting and powerful musical tribute of which Lar would surely have been very proud. The huge turnout at both the house and church reflected the high esteem in which he was held.Burial took place in Murrintown Cemetery.

Wexford People

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