Val Vousden was the stage name used by the actor William Francis Maher MacNevin, who was a native of Carlow town Ireland. Having made his stage debut at the age of six, he became one of Ireland’s leading character actors in the first half of the twentieth century. During his career he became best known for his portrayal of priests.
Val Vousden was born at 2 College Street, Carlow in January 1886. At the age of 6, he began his career as an actor playing the part of Tiny Tim in ‘A Christmas Carol’ in the Town Hall Theatre in Carlow in 1891. He received his primary education locally before going on to Mungret College, a Jesuit school near Limerick City. He continued to take part in drama productions as a student.
McNevin joined the East Lancashire Regiment of the British Army in Dublin, as a clerk, on August 26th 1904. He left after a year and returned to Carlow. He began touring with theatre companies in Ireland and England and by about 1910 started to use the stage name Val Vousden. He appears to have chosen his stage name after the Dublin born entertainer Valentine Vousden who was born in Moore Street, Dublin in 1821. Valentine Vousden had become famous not just in Ireland but also in England, New Zealand and the United States. He died in Bexhill-on-Sea in 1906.
The outbreak of World War 1 occurred while Bill McNevin, now known as Val Vousden, was touring with the Carrickford Repertory Company in Cardiff, Wales. Vousden rejoined the army and served in France with the Welsh Regiment rising to the rank of Regimental Sergeant Major. After the war he returned to Dublin and resumed his career as an actor. He performed at various theatres in Dublin and toured widely both in Ireland and Great Britain.
Val Vousden also became a well-known performer on national radio between 1930 and 1950. He presented the first light entertainment show on Radio Éireann. He appeared in a number of films including ‘Irish Destiny’, ‘Captain Boycott’ and ‘The Odd Man Out’. Val Vousden died at the age of 66 at Clonskeagh Hospital, Dublin on June 6th 1951
Val Vousden, actor and entertainer was born in the year 1886 On This Day.
Plaque to Val Vousden on house in College Street, Carlow town.