He said recently that I gave him his first professional job after graduating from the Poor School - I don't remember paying him! Mind you, once he was in my clutches he was too polite to refuse my many requests to take on parts. Looking at his CV the list is endless - The Shoes, Celtic Craic, and of course Frankie Flynn - defining the role created by Peter Hammond. And he wasn't a one-company man either - he spread his wings and was a regular on the London fringe circuit.
Owen also acted and directed a number of issue plays for me including Day Centre and Elder Abuse. Owen was also the mainstay of our writers groups organising the many rehearsed readings at the London Irish Centre. As a director he took on Ria's Donegal Wake (having to fetch his own coffin) and Tom O'Brien's Cromwell's Tour of Ireland which was a magnificent production.
More should be said about Owen's Frankie Flynn - a character that was Owen, and indeed was also Peter. I would sit and watch both Owen and Peter in the bar after rehearsals or a show and I'd swear they were merging into Frankie Flynn - aided and abetted by Terry's Guiness. They were fabulous nights where we were all "drinking pints and talking shite".
I could go on about Owen's theatre achievements and perhaps people will add their own comments to this blog. But it was as a mate that I value Owen the most. We took Frankie to Dublin and he was a great support to me there. A couple of years ago he helped salvage a dreadful production of Set Dancin' in Milton Keynes and he would always show up as an audience member, recently in Ireland to support my Cooley Women.
What else can I say about Owen? He was one in a million. They broke the mould when they made that feller. Here's to you Owen, Slainte!!