Sunday 15 December 2019

One final standing ovation as 'genius' actor Tóibín laid to rest

Actors Geraldine Plunkett and Stephen Rea at the funeral of Niall Tóibín at the Church of St Paul of the Cross, Mount Argus Church. Picture: Colin Keegan
Actors Geraldine Plunkett and Stephen Rea at the funeral of Niall Tóibín at the Church of St Paul of the Cross, Mount Argus Church. Picture: Colin Keegan
Jon Kenny
Aidan Gillen
Melanie Finn

Melanie Finn

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

Tributes were paid to legendary comedian and actor Niall Tóibín (89) as he was laid to rest at a packed funeral Mass at Mount Argus Church in Harold's Cross yesterday, where he received his final standing ovation.

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

His funeral cortège arrived at his local church just after noon, accompanied by the late star's son Seán and daughters Muireann, Aisling, Sighle and Fiana. His beloved wife Judy died 17 years ago.

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The actor, who appeared in everything from 'Ryan's Daughter' to 'Ballykissangel', is also survived by his grandchildren Jack, Ella, Niall, Billy, Frankie, Barry and Mariana.

Among the mourners were President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina, while Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was represented by his aide-de-camp Caroline Burke. Cork Lord Mayor, Cllr John Sheehan, also attended.

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

His good friend and parish priest Fr Brian D'Arcy officiated and fondly remembered Niall in a lengthy homily.

He recalled his astonishing acting talent, having taken on so many important roles and made them his own, most memorably playing Brendan Behan in 'Borstal Boy', which earned him a Tony Award.

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

He suffered through a lot of his life and he had a great struggle with his demons, added Fr D'Arcy.

He had a "great ability to play a priest" and should have become a member of the clergy himself, he said.

"But I wouldn't have liked to have gone to confession with him," he said, to laughs from the congregation. He was a genius of a man, a cute Cork "you-know-what" and he made Cavan famous, having been credited with inventing the Cavan man jokes, he said.

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

His son Seán gave an emotional eulogy in which he spoke of his parents' "pure, unadulterated love".

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

Irish Independent

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