Monday 9 December 2019

Actor and comedian Niall Tóibín dies at age 89

Niall Toibin. Picture by David Conachy
Niall Toibin. Picture by David Conachy
Mícheál Ó Scannáil

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

FAMED actor and comedian Niall Tóibín has died aged 89, following a long-term illness.

The Cork performer, who stared in roles in productions like Ballykissangel and Veronica Guerin, died in Dublin early today.

Comedian and Actor Niall Toibin in 1988. Part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI Collection
Comedian and Actor Niall Toibin in 1988. Part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI Collection
Actor Niall Toibin in Mount Joy Prison for Brendan Behan's Borstal Boy in 1994. Part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI Collection
Actor Niall Toibin in Mount Joy Prison for Brendan Behan's Borstal Boy 1994. Part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI Collection
Actor Niall Toibin in Mount Joy Prison for Brendan Behan's Borstal Boy in 1994. Part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI Collection
Niall Toibin as Brendan Behan in 'A Jar With Brendan Behan'. Photo by Godfrey Graham
Niall Tóibín with his daughter. Picture: Frank McGrath Jnr, June 1989. (Part of the NPA and Independent Newspapers Ireland)
Niall Toibin. Picture by David Conachy
Niall Toibin in 1977
Niall Toibin rehearsing for his one-man show Sweet and Sour Grapes.
Niall Toibin and Ray McBirde in the Salvage Shop in the Gaiety in 1998.
Niall Toibin in Ballykissangel

President Michael D Higgins led tributes and praised Tóibín's skill and sensitivity as a performer.

"His contribution to Irish theatre was a unique one, in both Irish and English," President Higgins said.

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"The depth of interpretation that he brought to a wide variety of characters showed a very deep intellectual understanding and, above all, sensitivity to the nuance of Irish life."

Tóibín also starred along side Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise in the 1992 American romantic drama Far and Away.

The proud Corkonian is predeceased by his wife, Judy, and is survived by his children Sean, Muireann, Aisling, Sighle and Fiana and his seven grandchildren.

Born in Cork city on November 21, 1929, his long career included work in English and Irish; on radio, stage, television and cinema. He was highly regarded as an actor and much loved as a comedian.

In 2010, Tóibín was honoured with a Doctor of Arts degree from UCC. In 2011, he was awarded an IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2015, he was awarded the freedom of his beloved Cork city.

Having began his career on radio drama in the 1950s, his most recent production for RTE Drama on One was 2020 by John Boorman in 2011.

Tóibín was also honoured with a Jacob's Award in 1973 for his performance in the RTÉ comedy series, If The Cap Fits, and in 2002, he was awarded the Best Actor Award in a Dublin ceremony.

The Gaelgóir starred in Poitín, Bob Quinn's Irish-language film, and also played the roles of Fr "Mack" MacAnally in the BBC series Ballykissangel, Slipper in The Irish RM and Fr Mackay in Brideshead Revisited.

His film career included O'Keeffe in Ryan's Daughter in 1970 and Judge Ballaugh in Veronica Guerin in 2003.

On stage, Tóibín played Andy in the original production of Lovers by Brian Friel at The Gate Theatre. He also played Brendan Behan in the original adaptation of Borstal Boy at the Abbey Theatre and on Broadway and had a role in Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett at the National Theatre in London.

RTÉ recently commissioned a documentary on his life from film maker Brian Reddin. It is due to be broadcast later this year.

Fans and friends of Tóibín were quick to pay tribute to the performer.

Actor and writer Gavin O'Connor heralded the help the actor gave him in his career, but quipped that his Cork roots were the reason for him taking the time.

The Gate Theatre tweeted that they were "deeply saddened to hear of the passing of legendary actor Niall Tóibín".

Former Mrs Brown's Boys star Rory Cowan said Tóibín was a "terrific actor".

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