Sunday 15 December 2019

Legendary Irish actor Níall Tóibín remembered as an incredible talent, genius and great man at his funeral

AN IRISH GREAT: Actor and comedian Niall Toibin, who died last week just shy of his 90th birthday, pictured in 2011 at the age of 82. Photo: Tony Gavin
AN IRISH GREAT: Actor and comedian Niall Toibin, who died last week just shy of his 90th birthday, pictured in 2011 at the age of 82. Photo: Tony Gavin
The remains are carried into church at the funeral of Níall Tóibín at the Church of St. Paul of the Cross, Mount Argus.. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
President Michael D Higgins pictured this afternoon at the funeral of Níall Tóibín at the Church of St. Paul of the Cross, Mount Argus.. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Actor Aidan Gillen pictured this afternoon at the funeral of Níall Tóibín at the Church of St. Paul of the Cross, Mount Argus.. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Mike Murphy pictured this afternoon at the funeral of Níall Tóibín at the Church of St. Paul of the Cross, Mount Argus.. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
The Mass booklet pictured this afternoon at the funeral of Níall Tóibín at the Church of St. Paul of the Cross, Mount Argus Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Melanie Finn

Melanie Finn

An incredible talent, a genius of a man and most importantly, a great person to know.

Tributes was paid this afternoon to legendary comedian and actor Níall Tóibín (89) as he was laid to rest at a packed service at Mount Argus Church in Harold’s Cross.

The Cork native passed away last Wednesday following a long illness and was laid to rest today on a bitterly cold but sunny day on Dublin’s southside.

His funeral cortege arrived at the church at 12.30pm, accompanied by the late star’s son Sean and daughters Muireann, Aisling, Sighle and Fiana. His beloved wife Judy was laid to rest at the same church 17 years ago.

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President Michael D Higgins pictured this afternoon at the funeral of Níall Tóibín at the Church of St. Paul of the Cross, Mount Argus..
Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
President Michael D Higgins pictured this afternoon at the funeral of Níall Tóibín at the Church of St. Paul of the Cross, Mount Argus.. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The actor, who appeared in everything from Ryan’s Daughter to Ballykissangel, was also survived by his grandchildren Jack, Ella, Niall, Billy, Frankie, Barry and Mariana as well as extended members of his large family.

Instead of flowers, they had asked for donations to be made to Barnardos, Focus Ireland or the Irish Cancer Society instead of flowers.

Attendees included President Michael D Higgins and wife Sabine alongside An Taoiseach’s aide-de-camp Caroline Burke, in addition to the Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr John Sheehan.

Luminaries from the world of Irish acting were out in force to pay their final respects including actors Aidan Gillen and Stephen Rea alongside Jon Kenny, Geraldine Plunkett, John Kavanagh and producer Noel Pearson.

His good friend and parish priest Fr Brian Darcy performed the service and remembered Níall in a lengthy homily.

He paid tribute to his astonishing acting talents, having taken on so many important roles and made them his own, most memorably playing Brendan Behan in the Borstal Boy, which eventually earned him a Tony Award.

The remains are carried into church at the funeral of Níall Tóibín at the Church of St. Paul of the Cross, Mount Argus..
Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
The remains are carried into church at the funeral of Níall Tóibín at the Church of St. Paul of the Cross, Mount Argus.. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

But he was also a wonderful person to know in a personal capacity with a great sense of humour, he told mourners.

“He was a great man. That is far more important than any of the other things,” he said.

He suffered through a lot of his life and he had a great struggle with his demons, said Fr Darcy.

Yet he believes he had a “great ability to play a priest” and should have become a member of the clergy himself.

Mike Murphy pictured this afternoon at the funeral of Níall Tóibín at the Church of St. Paul of the Cross, Mount Argus..
Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Mike Murphy pictured this afternoon at the funeral of Níall Tóibín at the Church of St. Paul of the Cross, Mount Argus.. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

“But I wouldn’t have liked to have gone to confession with him,” he said, provoking a laugh from the congregation.

He was a genius of a man, a cute Cork you-know-what and he made Cavan famous unintentionally, having been credited with inventing the Cavan-man jokes.

Niall was born into an Irish-speaking home on Redemption Road in Cork and ever since then, his life has been on the road to redemption. But he has now joined his beloved wife July, where they will hold hands forever in a beautiful clasp in God’s eternal love.

Among the gifts brought up to the alter were a number of photographs of loved one in addition to the box containing the freedom of the city of Cork, which he was particularly proud of

His only son Sean brought the mass to a close with an emotional eulogy where he spoke passionately about his late father.

Actor Aidan Gillen pictured this afternoon at the funeral of Níall Tóibín at the Church of St. Paul of the Cross, Mount Argus..
Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Actor Aidan Gillen pictured this afternoon at the funeral of Níall Tóibín at the Church of St. Paul of the Cross, Mount Argus.. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

He said that his parents absolutely adored each other and his late mum described it as “an Irish marriage.”

He was absolutely devastated after her passing 17 years ago but the family rallied around him in support but he had now gone to meet his mother in heaven.

“He was my father, he was my mentor and he was my friend. We will miss him tremendously,” he said.

Members of the immediate family then gathered to carry out the coffin bearing his remains out into the brilliant sunshine, as members of the clergy stood up to give him one final standing ovation.

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