David Flynn recalls the full and varied career of Biddy White Lennon
She was an accomplished writer of many cookbooks, an expert on many things culinary and a working journalist for over thirty years. However actress Biddy White Lennon will always be remembered as Maggie from TV’s ‘The Riordans’.
Sadly Biddy died on November 25th, 2017, and her death breaks a link with a time when the ‘The Riordans’ was an institution on Irish television.
The half-hour weekly drama was a folktale about a family life in the fictitious village of Leestown, Co. Kilkenny. Biddy joined The Riordans in Episode 9 in 1964, and remained with the television saga until it ended in 1979. The Riordans then became a five times weekly series on RTÉ radio, and Biddy stayed on, and even wrote many of the episodes along with her late husband, Denis Latimer.
“They did the first eight episodes and I came into the programme after that, and we did about 30 weeks a year before our summer break,” said Biddy in 2012.
Biddy’s mother was Ursula White, who was professor of Speech and Drama at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, and her father, Thomas Lennon, owned the Abbey Bar beside the Abbey Theatre where many of the actors frequented. Biddy honoured the names of both parents, by keeping the double-barrelled name all of her working life.
During the summer break of The Riordans she and other cast members started a travelling theatre company. The actors got three years out of one show, ‘Peg O’ My Heart’, touring Cork, Limerick and Waterford, and then back to the Olympia Theatre in Dublin.
“Over those years I managed to do four dinner theatre seasons in The Talbot Hotel, Wexford, with actor Godfrey Quigley and his theatre company. It kind of kept our theatre skills fresh,” said Biddy.