- 02 May 21
The death of the actor Tom Hickey sees Ireland losing one of its finest thespian talents of the modern era. "It was a privilege to know him as a friend," President Michael D. Higgins said in tribute.
Hot Press is saddened to hear of the death of the great Irish actor Tom Hickey. Hickey was best known as one of the stars of the RTÉ soap, The Riordans. He also starred in numerous films. But it was onstage that he was most in his element.
Tom Hickey was a founder member of the Focus Theatre, alongside Deirdre O’Connell and Sabina Coyne – the wife of President Michael D. Higgins. A statement on the death of Tom Hickey was issued last night on behalf of President Higgins and Sabina Higgins.
“It is with great sadness that Sabina and I learned of the death of Tom Hickey, one of the greatest actors of his generation, giving over six decades to his profession. He leaves an indelible imprint on Irish theatre,” the President said.
"Having trained with Deirdre O’Connell at the Stanislavski Studio while working as a cameraman at RTÉ, Tom Hickey became one of the founding members of the innovative Dublin Focus Theatre, playing in a number of ground-breaking productions, including Miss Julie, Antigone, Uncle Vanya and The Night of the Iguana.
"He made memorable contributions as an actor to productions in the Project Arts Centre in Dublin, working in collaborations of original work with directors and playwrights including Tom MacIntyre, Patrick Mason, Tom Murphy, Marina Carr and Garry Hynes.
"Besides starring in Ireland’s major theatres, Tom will also be remembered for his role as Benjy in The Riordans and his other roles in television, in theatres in the UK and in many films, including Breakfast on Pluto, Inside I’m Dancing, Neil Jordan’s The Butcher Boy and Raining Stones.
"Among his colleagues in the acting community he was regarded as an artist of total commitment to performance, to his art and to his community.
"He will be so missed. It was a privilege to know him as a friend.”
That he was a master of his craft is clear.
“I remember going to the Focus Theatre during the 1970s,” Hot Press editor Niall Stokes said. “It was a tiny space, in behind Pembroke Street in Dublin. It was absolutely electric, being up so close with the actors. And I remember Tom Hickey, in those early days, as a wonderfully powerful presence, capable of living the part in a way that was genuinely electrifying. He was a lovely man too, lacking the vanity and egotism that can occasionally afflict people in the acting business. He will be greatly missed by those who knew him, personally and professionally."
Offering his condolences this morning, Micheál Martin, stated that Hickey was one of the nation's finest talents.
"Saddened to hear of the passing of Tom Hickey, one of Ireland’s greatest actors," an Taoiseach tweeted.
"Tom’s contribution to stage and screen over six decades was immense, and an inspiration to many who followed in his footsteps. Deepest condolences to his family and loved ones on their loss."
His last appearance on stage was in a memorable performance of Beckett's poems, directed by Alan Gilsenan.