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Friends pay funeral tributes to Love/Hate actor Stephen Clinch

He was best known for his role in Love/Hate where he played a criminal involved in a feud with the character Fran, who was played by Peter Coonan, in seasons four and five of the crime series.

Friends and family attend the funeral of Stephen Clinch at the Church of Our Lady Immaculate in Darndale, Dublin, this morning. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Conor Feehan

The Dublin actor played who played the character of Noely in the RTÉ hit series Love/Hate has today been remembered as a man who had made some mistakes in his life but to whom acting was a natural talent.

Stephen ‘Clinchy’ Clinch (56), a father-of-three from Darndale in north Dublin, died suddenly last Tuesday.

He was best known for his role in Love/Hate where he played a criminal involved in a feud with the character Fran, who was played by Peter Coonan, in seasons four and five of the crime series.

He also appeared in the 2017 film Cardboard Gangsters and in the 2019 TV series Darklands.

Clinch himself was jailed for three years in 2016 for his role in an armed robbery. He had historical convictions for robbery and burglary during a time of addiction in his earlier life up to 2004.

Actor Stephen 'Clinchy' Clinch

At the Church of Our Lady Immaculate in Darndale this morning actor John Connors, who had worked with him on many projects, told how Clinch managed to persuade writer Stuart Carolan to change the last scene of one series after he had found out it had been originally written that Peter Coonan would be attacking him in prison.

He said that in his acting career Clinch had been beaten up by Coonan many times, and was anxious to play a scene where those roles might be reversed.

Connors said Clinch rang Carolan and told him from his own prison experience that the scene would not end that way in the real world, and suggested the now infamous grim scene where Coonan was attacked by Noely with a pool cue.

A pool cue was one of the items brought to the altar as a symbol of Clinch’s life, which brought a round of applause and a laugh from the mourners.

Connors said he wanted to focus on Clinch’s life as an artist and performer. “He wrote songs, he sang. He played the drums, he played the guitar. And he was a brilliant actor. He actually never acted a day in his life. He was real,” he said.

He recalled a story where a particular scene they were working on had to be recorded in one take, and Clinch needed no time for preparation, and was so convincing in his role that he terrified some of the other actors with his authentic portrayal of the violent character.

He also said Clinch was shameless in loving the attention he got from members of the public who recognised him from television.

Fr Michael O’Connor said Clinch knew he had made mistakes in life, and would talk to a previous priest in the parish about the possibility of talking to young people about their lives, and how choices you make can affect you for life.

He also told of how Clinch was once one of a group from the area that climbed Croagh Patrick to raise funds the local New Life Centre. “A man with a heart,” he said.

Clinch’s son Alan said his father would be missed greatly, and a friend Johno told many tales of escapades with his pal, many of which involved items going missing and having to be returned, or of gardaí calling to his door looking for a chat.

He told one tale of Clinch offering to babysit for him while he went out for a night out with his wife, but how when they arrived home at 1am the children were running around the house and Clinch was asleep in a chair.

Stephen Clinch is survived by his partner Karen, children Shauna, Stephen and Alan, grandchildren and wider family.

He was given a round of applause as his coffin was carried from the church, and after funeral mass his remains were brought to Dardistown crematorium for cremation.

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