Brefni O'Rorke

Brefni O'Rorke (26 June 1889 – 11 November 1946) was an Irish film actor.[1] He began studying acting with his mother, the actress Jane O'Rorke née Morgan who was born in 1858, and there was a brother, Frederic, twelve years old than him.[2] He made his professional début in 1912 at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin in a production of Shaw's John Bull's Other Island. While still living in Dublin, he met and married in 1916 Alice Violet née Cole (b.1882, London), a chorus-girl turned actress, who had divorced her first husband and immigrated from South Africa with her young son. Thus O'Rorke became the stepfather of Cyril Cusack.[3]

Brefni O'Rorke
Born26 June 1889
Died11 November 1946(1946-11-11) (aged 57)
Other namesBrefni O'Rourke
OccupationFilm actor
Years active19391946

Starting in 1939 he appeared in several broadcasts in the new fledgling BBC television broadcast, including a play by Irish playwright Teresa Deevy called The King of Spain's Daughter,[4] and produced by Denis Johnston.

Partial filmography


National Television started in October 1936, initially broadcast just two hours a day. National Television stopped broadcast at the start of the War, and didn't restart until 1946.

"Plays" (like everything else) could last just one hour maximum, but some were only 25 minutes long. Also, there was no recording possible, so any repeat was really a new broadcast (as in The Advantages of Paternity).


The King of Spain's Daughter (25 Feb 1939) [5]
Writer Teresa Deevy
Producer Denis Johnston
Annie Kinsella Phyllis Ryan
Peter Kinsella Brefni O'Rorke
Mrs Marks Ann Clery
Jim Harris Patrick Boxill
Roddy Mann Tony Quinn

The Advantages of Paternity (12 May 1939) [6]
A comedy by Horton Giddy.
Author Horton Giddy
Producer Denis Johnston
General Yagunin Brefni O'Rorke
Colonel Ilyitch Frank Thornton-Bassett
Brunov Erik Chitty
Orderly Stuart Latham

Good Morning, Bill! (4 Jun 1939) [7]
A comedy by P.G. Wodehouse.
Author P. G. Wodehouse
Producer Royston Morley
Bill Peter Haddon
Lord Tidmouth Michael Shipley
Sir Hugo Drake Brefni O'Rorke


Death at Newton-Stewart (4 Jun 1939) [8]
A reconstruction of an unparalleled murder of the 'seventies [1870s], extracted from the records of the Ulster Assizes.
Producer Denis Johnston
  • Brefni O'Rorke
  • Frank Thornton-Bassett
  • Una O'Connor
  • Godfrey Kenton
  • Rupert Siddons
  • Joan Frank
  • Millar Wilson
  • Alex McCrindle
  • Adrian Byrne
  • Ian Dawson
  • Maureen Moore
  • Nigel Fitzgerald
  • John Clifford
  • Robert Sansom
  • Charles Maunsell
  • Eric Noels
  • Clive Baxter

The Parnell Commission (18 Jul 1939) [9]
A reconstruction of the famous forgery investigation of 1888–89
Producer Denis Johnston
Piggott Eliot Makeham
Sir Charles Russel Felix Aylmer
Parnell Mark Dignam
Attorney General Wilfrid Walter
Eye Witness Brefni O'Rorke
Mrs O'Shea Olga Edwardes
President of the Court Graveley Edwards
Timothy Harrington Blake Giffard
Doctor Maguire Nigel Fitzgerald
Henniker Heaton Lionel Dymoke
Frank Hugh O'Donnell Harry Hutchinson
Court Registrar Leo McCabe
Captain O'Shea Charles Oliver
Friend Micheline Patton
Servant at Eltham Moya Devlin
Solicitor's Clerk Russell Hogarth
Spanish Policeman Rafael Terry
Houston's Voice
Kenneth Barton
[Actor] Jack Clifford


  1. Radio Times (7 Oct 1937), Death at Newtonstewart, 57, BBC National Programme, pp. 64, 11 This earlier radio broadcast is similar. Inside the Radio Times there, there are some background reading, as well as photographs and a map.


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