Nfld. & Labrador

Playwright, producer Cahill dead at 77

Tom Cahill, a writer and broadcaster whose passionate interest in Newfoundland history inspired some of his plays and songs, has died.
Tom Cahill, pictured in 1993, was a playwright and broadcaster inspired by Newfoundland history and culture. ((CBC))

Tom Cahill, a writer and broadcaster whose passionate interest in Newfoundland history inspired some of his plays and songs, has died.

Cahill, 77, died Saturday at a St. John's nursing home.

Cahill's best-known play was As Loved Our Fathers, which appeared in 1974, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of Newfoundland's Confederation with Canada.

Rather than celebrating the anniversary, As Loved Our Fathers — its title lifted from a line of Cavendish Boyle's Ode to Newfoundland — lamented what Cahill saw as Newfoundland's surrender of independence.

"He was Newfoundland's finest playwright," said author and historian Paul O'Neill, who grew up with Cahill and worked with him at the CBC.

"He was a great satirist. He was a painter. He could play piano magnificently," O'Neill told CBC News Monday.

"There was nothing Tom couldn't do in the arts, as far as I'm concerned … Newfoundland has lost one of its truly great people in the world of arts and entertainment."

Cahill worked for many years on both television and radio productions for the CBC.

He produced Tales From Pigeon Inlet, adaptations of stories written by Ted Russell. Cahill also produced series on historical figures of Newfoundland and Labrador history, including Where Once They Stood and Yesterday's Heroes.

A songwriter with a sarcastic eye, Cahill collaborated often with the late singer Joan Morrissey on such songs as CN Bus and Thank God We're Surrounded by Water.

"Both provincial and national audiences have heard and seen our local story through the works of Mr. Cahill," said a dedication to Cahill when he was awarded the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2005.

"He has become known as a renowned cultural figure in the province, with some regarding him a neglected genius. His works are considered to be classics, his dedication to the province he loves is overwhelming, and he is revered by a cultural community who acknowledge the effect he has had on their industry."

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