- 13 Nov 19
President Michael D. Higgins is among those who have paid tribute to the legendary entertainer.
Cork-born actor and comedian Niall Tóibín has died today, November 13, after a long illness. The lauded performer, who was 89, will be largely remembered for his Brendan Behan roles – appearing in the stage version of Borstal Boy nine times over four decades.
Throughout his career, he also appeared in Ballykissangel, Ryan's Daughter, Veronica Guerin and Far And Away. Tóibín was honoured with an IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010, and was granted the Freedom of Cork in 2015.
A number of Tóibín's friends and colleagues have paid tribute to him following the news of his death.
In a statement President Michael D. Higgins reflected on his remarkable legacy in theatre:
"His contribution to Irish theatre was a unique one, in both Irish and English. 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.
"The range of his work was vast and included unforgettable performances in all of the Irish theatres and some of the most important theatres in London and New York.
"While a huge audience will have adored his comic genius, his work included all the genres – stage, television, film and radio. To the latter he brought a distinctive voice which made him a much-loved interpreter of Irish life and its challenges.
"Sabina and I send our deepest condolences to his children Sighle, Aisling, Fiana, Sean and Muireann and the other members of his family, and to all those who so loved his work.”
Irish actor Gavin O'Connor remembered him as "a wonderful mentor" and a "legend".
What a wonderful mentor Niall Tóibín was to me during Borstal Boy. Taking me out on stage before performance to working on delivery and comic timing. He unashamedly treated me differently because I was from Cork and hadn’t a clue. I learned a lot. A legend. Rest In Peace a Chara. pic.twitter.com/qkbwlEfYZ2
— Gavin O'Connor (@gavinoconnor) November 13, 2019
Joe Duffy described him as "always friendly" and "an extraordinarily gifted actor, comedian and writer".
#nialltoibin R.I.P. I used to see and greet Niall in Clontarf until his health deteriorated. He was always friendly, an extraordinarily gifted actor , comedian and writer. No one could interpret the work and life of Brendan Behan more accurately. RIP
— JOE DUFFY (@joeliveline) November 13, 2019
Rory Cowan remembered him as "a terrific actor" and "a big Trade Union/workers rights supporter".
Ah this is sad news. He was a terrific actor. I only met him once. When I told him my father was in the Trade Union movement he became very chatty. Turned out he was a big Trade Union/workers rights supporter https://t.co/l4UlHCF5Xf
— Rory Cowan (@1rorycowan) November 13, 2019
Fine Gael Cabinet Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan paid tribute to the "hugely loved and respected" Tóibín.
Niall was a uniquely talented performer, light-hearted, funny, sharp-witted and intensely powerful both as an actor and comedian.
He was hugely loved and respected by all who worked with him. My thoughts are with his children, grandchildren and many close friends. #nialltoibin pic.twitter.com/ZRv1tmS7Am
— ⚖️Josepha ⚡️STAY HOME⚡️Madigan (@josephamadigan) November 13, 2019
Cork's former Lord Mayor Des Cahill shared Tóibín's famed words after being honoured with the Freedom of Cork.
“Cork to me is heaven “ exclaimed Niall Tóibín on being honoured with the freedom of #Cork by @corkcitycouncil
Thanks for all the smiles you put on so many faces Niall
May Niall rest peacefully as he meets his maker pic.twitter.com/FSjJVTmnWV
— Des Cahill (@CllrDesCahil) November 13, 2019
The Irish Film Institute also shared their sympathies about "the passing of the great Niall Tóibín".
Everyone at the IFI is very sorry to hear about the passing of the great Niall Tóibín at the age of 89. RIP. https://t.co/DGPLr2ohYy
— Irish Film Institute (@IFI_Dub) November 13, 2019
Fergus Finlay noted that Tóibín had "that unique gift of being able to make you laugh till you cried".
I knew Niall Toibin slightly and admired him hugely. He could be grumpy occasionally but he was a man of great generosity of spirit and passionate political conviction. And of course that unique gift of being able to make you laugh till you cried. He’ll be sorely missed.
— Fergus Finlay (@fergusfinlay) November 13, 2019
Predeceased by his wife Judy, Tóibín is survived by his chidlren Sean, Muireann, Aisling, Sighle and Fiana.