Niall Toibin

Niall Toibin
Niall Toibin

Niall Toibin Wikipedia.

Niall Toibin was born in 1929. He has appeared in Ryan’s DaughterBrackenThe Ballroom of Romance,  The Irish R.M.Caught in a Free StateBallykissangelFar and Away, and Veronica Guerin, and has played Brendan Behan too. He was awarded honorary lifetime membership of the Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA) in 2011.

Tóibín started acting in the 1950s and spent fourteen years with the Radio Éireann Players.

From Ryan’s Daughter and Bracken in the 1970s, to The Ballroom of RomanceThe Irish R.M.,Brideshead Revisited and Caught in a Free State in the 1980s, and Far and AwayBallykissangel and Veronica Guerin in the 1990s and 2000s, Toibin’s entertainment career in television, film and theatre has spanned over four decades. He has also acted for the radio, such as his guest appearance in the BBC Radio 4 series Baldi.

In 2005 he “cemented” his hands outside the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin. He made a speech saying, “It will be a proud day for me. My appearances on the Gaiety stage are without doubt the highlights of my career and I am honoured to have been asked to give my prints”.

He played Dr. Paul O’Callaghan in the first series of the Irish TV programme The Clinic.

He played Judge Ballaugh, alongside Cate Blanchett, in Jerry Bruckheimer‘s film Veronica Guerin.

In 1973, Tóibín won a Jacob’s Award for his performance in the RTÉ comedy series, If The Cap Fits.

On 29 October 2002, Tóibín accepted a Best Actor Award in a Dublin ceremony.

Tóibín received an Honorary Doctor of Arts Degree from University College Cork (UCC) on 4 June 2010.

Tóibín was honoured with the Irish Film and Television Academy’s (IFTA) Lifetime Achievement Award at a ceremony at the Irish Film Institute on 3 November 2011. The award meant Tóibín became an honorary IFTA lifetime member.

Niall Toibin died in 2019.

Obituary in “The Telegraph” in 2019.

Niall Tóibín, who has died aged 89, had a mellow voice and glint in his Irish eye that made him one of the United Kingdom’s and Ireland’s most cherished character actors. He was ever-present in his homeland’s theatre, while recognised by British television viewers for playing archetypal Irishmen without veering towards stereotypes.

In Ballykissangel (1996-2001), adored by devotees of Sunday-evening feelgood television on both sides of the Irish Sea, he was Father Frank MacAnally, the cranky priest and regional superior of Stephen Tompkinson’s English curate moving to a parish in rural Ireland.

Father Mac was the traditional Catholic voice disapproving of the newcomer falling for Dervla Kirwan’s local bar owner – and eventually giving him the ultimatum of choosing between her or the Church, sending him on a retreat with the order to “scrub her” from his mind.

Catholic priests were stock-in-trade for Tóibín. A decade earlier, he had played both Father Mackay, giving Laurence Olivier’s Lord Marchmain the last rites, in Granada Television’s sumptuous production of Brideshead Revisited for ITV (1982) and Father Donavan, counselling Ivy Tilsley after the death of her son Brian in Coronation Street seven years later.

With Emma Wray, Jan Francis and Dennis Waterman in Stay Lucky
With Emma Wray, Jan Francis and Dennis Waterman in Stay Lucky CREDIT: ITV/REX

He also made his mark as the roguish Slipper, Flurry Knox’s groom, in The Irish RM (1983-85), the Channel 4 series starring Peter Bowles and based on the novels of the Anglo-Irish writers Edith Somerville and Martin Ross (the nom de plume of Violet Martin) set in the west of Ireland at the turn of the 19th century.

Tóibín described the role as “the perennially tipsy whipper-in of hounds, schemer, adviser, trickster, lovable at a distance, but odoriferous close up”.

His appeal became international when he appeared in feature films. Prominent roles were in the Irish emigration romance Far and Away (1992), as Tom Cruise’s father, and in the political thriller Veronica Guerin (2003) as Judge Ballaugh, alongside Cate Blanchett’s real-life journalist gunned down while investigating Dublin drug dealers.

With Fionnula Flanagan and Gabriel Byrne in Reflections (1984)
With Fionnula Flanagan and Gabriel Byrne in Reflections (1984) CREDIT: BBC/COURT HOUSE/KOBAL/REX

The actor himself was proudest of his one-man shows, starting at his favourite theatre, the Gaiety in Dublin, with Confusion in 1971, and progressing to cabaret performances around the world. He starred in Frank McMahon’s stage version of Brendan Behan’s autobiographical novel Borstal Boy. 

Tóibín played the adult Behan in the play at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, in 1967, and when it transferred to Broadway in 1970, The New York Times remarked on the “sad yet cherubic smile ironically playing round his mouth”, adding that his resemblance to Behan was “uncanny”. That staging won a Tony award and he starred in nine separate productions over four decades.

Niall Tóibín was born in Cork City on November 21 1929, the sixth of seven children, to Siobhan (née NiSuileabain) and Sean Tóibín, a travelling teacher for the Gaelic League. He grew up in an Irish-speaking home and, as a child, showed a talent for performing. He sang in the cathedral choir and at Cork Opera House.

In Stay Lucky

In 1947, having been educated by the Christian Brothers at the North Monastery in Cork, Tóibín joined the Civil Service in Dublin. He performed with a Gaelic League drama society there, and semi-professionally at the city’s Abbey Theatre, before turning professional in 1953 to spend 14 years with Radio Eireann’s repertory company.

From 1967 Tóibín was regularly on television. He wrote and starred in the RTE sketch show If the Cap Fits (1973), playing a nun pulling Guinness out from under her habit in one episode.

He later played Edward Daly, a landowner out to swallow up the fields of Gabriel Byrne’s farmer, in RTE’s serial Bracken (1978-82); Stephen Burke of the IRA in the Channel 4-RTE Second World War thriller Caught in a Free State (1983); Lutz in the mini-series Wagner (1983-84), alongside Richard Burton as the German composer; the terrorist Sean Gallagher in ITV’s Confessional (1989); and the junkyard owner John Lively in the ITV sitcom Stay Lucky from 1990 to 1993.

Tóibín also portrayed Paddy Joe Hill, one of the six wrongly imprisoned for IRA bombings, in Granada TV’s drama-documentary Who Bombed Birmingham? (1990) and Dr Paul O’Callaghan (2003-05) in the first three series of the RTE medical drama The Clinic.

Among his other films were Ryan’s Daughter (1970), The Ballroom of Romance (1986) and Fools of Fortune (1990). He played another priest in the Clive Barker-written horror film Rawhead Rex (1986).

During seasons in Britain with the National Theatre towards the end of the 1970s, Tóibín was Oliver Cromwell in The World Turned Upside Down and The Putney Debates, Driscoll in The Long Voyage Home and Larry Slade in The Iceman Cometh.

A critic praised the “orotund grandeur” he brought to the lead role of Archbishop Lombard in Brian Friel’s Making History, premiered at the Guildhall in Derry before a run at the National in 1988.

Tóibín won the Irish Film & Television Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.

In 1957 he married Judy Kenny, who died in 2002. He is survived by their son and four daughters.

Niall Tóibín, born November 21 1929, died November 13 2019 

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