Celebrity for the week ending
Saturday, 8 March 2008

Nelly Farrell (Mrs Pat Feeney, 1859-1889),
Irish serio-comic vocalist,
sometimes billed as 'The Irish Brilliant' or 'The Irish Gem'

Nelly Farrell

song sheet cover for 'The Wanderer,' words by J.F. Mitchell, music by J. Jonghmans,
'Sung with Genuine Sussess' by Nelly Farrell

(published by Howard & Co, 25 Great Marlborough Street, London,
lithograph portrait after a photograph by an unknown photographer, probably 1885)

Middlesex music hall poster, 26 December 1883

A poster for the bill at the Middlesex music hall ('The Old Mo'),
Drury Lane, London, 26 December 1883

(printed by Pewtress & Co, Little Queen Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, 1883)

'Mr. [J.L.] Graydon makes careful estimates, fully appreciates that his supporters expect extra attractions at Christmas, and, as far as possible, supplies the demand. The programme which is being "attended to" this week at the Middlesex is of a very full and satisfying character, embracing nearly every type of performance common to the music-hall. There is one thing about the policy of the Middlesex manager which deserves mention, and it is this, - if a performer fails to satisfy the audience, Mr. Graydon does not inflict pertinaciously such unsatisfactory items upon his audience, and herein, with his rapid method of supplying the stage, consists the secret of his strength as a caterer. Miss Jenny Richardson makes early essays, and her general smartness gains for her decided marks of approbation. Messrs. Malcolm and Draycott, variety performers, have been practising with success, and Mr. George Ovenden has been doing his best to ingratiate himself into the favour of the Middlesex supporters, which Miss Gertie Russell has been warbling with a fair amount of success. Mr. Harry Dowton, whose talents as a mimic were first recognised by us, seems to be fast developing into a good character vocalist. Messrs. Rice and D'Albert are a couple of performers of the Ethiopian type, and very amusing they are. Mr. Frank Egerton exercises his vocal gifts to advantage, and Mr. G.W. Hunter parades his eccentric style with good effect. Miss Rosie May's good presence valuably assists her doings in the song-and-dance direction, and the Holsons tender their entertainment, which is more curious than satisfying. Mr. Slade Murray seems to have well established himself, and his doings at the Middlesex are vociferously applauded. Mr. Walter Munroe is a most serviceable artist, his singing and dancing alike being excellent. Miss Nelly Farrell's songs are entirely to the taste of the Middlesex folk, who are excellent judges of what Irish warbling should be. Miss Farrell is very successful here. Mr. Edward Mosedale has seen a considerable deal of the Middlesex in his time; he sang here when the hall was in its humble period, and he is singing here now that the grub has developed into a butterfly. The Sisters Terry are good-looking young ladies, whose presence invests their good vocal and saltatorial efforts with much interest. Cupid's Frolic is one of Mr. Maynard's productions, and enlists the services of Mesdames [Sophie] Burlette, [Annie] Lyall, and [Lizzie] Simms [sic], with Messrs. [George] Lacey and [Fred] Williams. The last mentioned pair make the best of their opportunities, and Miss Simms dances most cleverly. Miss Lizzie Villiers is a promising singer, and the concluding feature of the entertainment is supplied by the Brothers Leopold, who, however, are not the original troupe rejoicing in that name. Mr. Gus Leach is the chairman here, and he exercises his authority with admirable discretion.'
(The Entr'acte, London, Saturday, 29 December 1883, p.5a/b)

The South London music hall, January 1884
'Miss Nelly Farrell is very much applauded for her songs, and more especially for her latest, in which she tells us that "One black sheep shall never spoil the flock."' (The Entr'acte, Saturday, 19 January 1884, p.11b)

The Middlesex music hall, Drury Lane, London
'… and then there is Miss Nelly Farrell, who sings Hibernian songs in that genuine fashion which the Middlesex habitués so well like, and which never fail to provoke universal applause. Without saying that the Emerald Isle is more liberally represented at the Middlesex than at any other hall, we have observed that Irish songs are in great favour here always.' (The Entr'acte, Saturday, 27 December 1884, p.6a)

London Pavilion, Monday, 30 November 1885
Mr. G.H. Macdermott was so out of voice as to be unable to sing; but to show there was nothing like an intended breach of faith, the popular comedian was brought to the footlights by Mr. Villiers just to speak an excuse, and thus show the honourableness of his intentions. Mrs. Lennard Charles sang with excellent spirit and with success, and the Pinauds gave one of the very best grotesque "shows" that has ever been tendered on any stage, which Mr. G.W. Hunter exhibited all that dryness which has brought him such a fund of popularity. Miss Nellie Richards negotiated a new lease of favour by her tuneful contributions, and Mr. Charles Godfrey again afforded proof of his power to do justice to that material where manifestations of dramatic force are vitally necessary. Miss Nelly Farrell in genuinely Irish song once more asserted her supremacy, while the last feature of the programme was supplied by the Frediani Troupe, who gave an acrobatic display. During the evening Mr. Villiers, in a few happy phrases, addressed the audience.'
(The Entr'acte, London, Saturday, 5 December 1885, p.6a)

'Pat Feeney, a popular Irish comedian, who not long ago gave $10,000 to the duchess of Marlborough's fund for the relief of misery in Ireland, is now so reduced in circumstances, owing to illness, that he is depending upon the proceeds of a benefit at Dublin to keep him from starvation.'
(The Mountain Democrat, Placerville, California, Saturday, 20 April 1889, p.1d)

Nelly Farrell's death occurred on 6 February 1889 followed shortly afterwards by that of her husband, the popular Irish music hall comedian, Pat Feeney on 13 May.

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© John Culme, 2008