At the time of her death, the actress, who was 78, was a patient at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, N.J., where she was receiving treatment for the cancer, from which she had suffered for the last several years.
Flanagan, whose tirelessness and energy were legendary among friends and colleagues, worked almost constantly in Dublin, London and New York, with frequent sorties into regional America, where she was a highly prized visiting performer at the best of the country?s resident theater companies.
It was, in fact, in the midst of one of these sojourns, guest-starring in playwright Tom Stoppard?s ?Indian Ink? at the Missouri Repertory Theatre in Kansas City, that the actress became sufficiently ill that she had to withdraw from the play a week before its closing performance and return to her home in Glen Rock, N.J., only a few weeks ago.
Being unable to finish a job was so unlike the redoubtable Flanagan that her family and her professional associates became alarmed.
The actress was born and raised in County Sligo and she was fond of relating the tale of her father, her mother, and her uncle all having been mayor of Sligo City.
Her uncle Tom had been mayor in 1905, and her father, P.J., was elected to the office in 1939. In 1945, her mother, Elizabeth, became the first female mayor.
Flanagan came from old republican stock. During the run of Tom Murphy?s ?Bailegangaire,? at Dublin?s Peacock Theatre, an Irish Times journalist asked her if her family was ?Fianna Fail.?
?Oh, my God, were they ever,? she responded, putting the matter to rest.
The actress attended the Ursuline convent school in Sligo, where one of her classmates was Joan O?Hara, who eventually became a noted actress and the mother of playwright Sebastian Barry.
With a convent school friend, Flanagan placed an ad in the area newspapers inquiring about positions in the repertory companies that flourished in the West of Ireland in the years following World War II.
In the summer of 1949, the Garryowen Players of Bundoran offered Flanagan and her friend jobs paying