Higgins tribute to Peter O'Toole
Irish president Michael D Higgins has paid tribute to actor Peter O'Toole, who has died aged 81.
The Irish-born star, who shot to fame in the Oscar-winning epic Lawrence Of Arabia, passed away on Saturday.
Arts lover and long-time friend of O'Toole Mr Higgins said it was with great sadness he learned of the actor's death.
"Ireland, and the world, has lost one of the giants of film and theatre," the President said.
"In a long list of leading roles on stage and in film, Peter brought an extraordinary standard to bear as an actor.
"He had a deep interest in literature and a love of Shakespearean sonnets in particular."
Mr Higgins said while O'Toole received eight Academy Award nominations for best actor and was given a special Oscar from his peers for his contribution to film, he was deeply committed to the stage.
The president and former university lecturer said anyone who saw O'Toole in his leading roles - from Lawrence Of Arabia to Henry II in Becket - would recognise his "lifetime especially devoted to the art form of film".
Mr Higgins extended his sympathy to the actor's family, including his daughters Pat and Kate, his son Lorcan, and former wife, actress Sian Phillips.
"(My wife) Sabina and I and our children will miss him, as will all those who saw him on screen or stage or had the privilege, as I had, of enjoying his friendship and humour," Mr Higgins said.
"He was unsurpassed for the grace he brought to every performance on and off the stage."
The president and O'Toole, originally from Connemara, Co Galway, became friends in 1969.
Mr Higgins said he spent part of 1979 in Clifden, on the west coast of Ireland, where the pair met up almost on a daily basis.
"All of us who knew him in the West will miss his warm humour and generous friendship," he said.
Mr Higgins cited O'Toole's performances in plays by George Bernard Shaw as among his most "outstanding".