Niall Tóibín

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Niall Tóibín
Born(1929-11-21)21 November 1929
Cork, Ireland
Died13 November 2019(2019-11-13) (aged 89)
Dublin, Ireland
Years active1950s–2018
Frances Judith Kenny
(m. 1957; died 2002) (archived)

Niall Tóibín (Irish pronunciation: [ˈn̠ʲiəl̪ˠ t̪ˠoːˈbʲiːnʲ]; 21 November 1929 – 13 November 2019)[1] was an Irish comedian and actor. Born in Cork into an Irish speaking family,[2] Tóibín grew up on the north-side of the city in Bishop's Field.[3]

He appeared in Ryan's Daughter, Brideshead Revisited, Bracken, The Ballroom of Romance, The Irish R.M., Caught in a Free State, Ballykissangel, Far and Away, and Veronica Guerin. He was awarded honorary lifetime membership of the Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA) in 2011 and the Freedom of Cork in 2015.

Early life[edit]

Tóibín was born in 1929 in Cork, Ireland, the sixth of seven children, born to Siobhán (née Ní Shúileabháin) and Seán Tóibín, native Irish speakers. His parents married in 1917. His father was born in Passage West, County Cork, and his parents came from Waterford and West Cork. Seán Tóibín was a teacher in the School of Commerce in Cork city and the author of two books, Blátha an Bhóithrín and Troscán na mBánta, on wayside and meadowland flowers, both written in the Irish language. His mother, Siobhán Ni Shúilleabháin, came from Beaufort, County Kerry.[4]

Niall was born on the southside of Cork city in Friars' Walk.[5] He was raised with Irish and used the language in his professional career, notably in the film Poitín.[6] His siblings included Siobhán, Tomás (a poet), Déaglán, Filmin, Gobnait and Colm Tóibín.

As a child, he sang in the cathedral choir and in the Opera House in Cork.[5] In his teens, he joined a drama society attached to the Keating Branch of the Gaelic League. He was educated by the Irish Christian Brothers at the North Monastery (North Mon) after which he left Cork for a job in the Civil Service in Dublin in January 1947.[3][7]

In 1957, Tóibín married Frances Judith "Judy" Kenny (died 26 June 2002, aged 70) in Dublin. He had five children, and seven grandchildren.[8]


Working originally as a civil service clerk with the Department of External Affairs,[3] Tóibín started acting in the 1950s and spent fourteen years with the Radio Éireann Players.[7]

From Ryan's Daughter and Bracken in the 1970s, to The Ballroom of Romance, The Irish R.M., Brideshead Revisited and Caught in a Free State in the 1980s, and Far and Away, Ballykissangel and Veronica Guerin in the 1990s and 2000s, Toibin's entertainment career in television, film and theatre spanned over four decades. He also acted for the radio, such as his guest appearance in the BBC Radio 4 series Baldi.[9][10]

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".[11]

He played Dr. Paul O'Callaghan in the first series of the Irish TV programme The Clinic.[12]

He played Judge Ballaugh, alongside Cate Blanchett, in Jerry Bruckheimer's film Veronica Guerin.[13]


Tóibín's handprint in front of the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin, Ireland.

In 1973, Tóibín won a Jacob's Award for his performance in the RTÉ comedy series, If The Cap Fits.[14]

On 29 October 2002, Tóibín won Best Actor at the Christian Film and Television Excellence awards ceremony in Dublin.[15]

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

He 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.[16][17][18][19] The award meant Tóibín became an honorary IFTA lifetime member.[20]

Later life and death[edit]

In May 2015, Tóibín was awarded the Freedom of Cork in recognition of his film, television and stage work.[21]

Tóibín died in Dublin on 13 November 2019, eight days before his 90th birthday, having suffered from a form of dementia in the years before he died.[22][23][14][24]


Year Title Role Notes
1969 Guns in the Heather Kettering [25]
1970 Ryan's Daughter O'Keefe [25]
1971 Flight of the Doves Sergeant O'Casey [26]
1971 L'iguana dalla lingua di fuoco Doctor Uncredited[27]
1977 Philadelphia, Here I Come Con Sweeney
1978 Poitín Sleamhnan [16]
1979 The Outsider The Farmer [25]
1980 The Sleep of Death Sean
1981 Lovespell Andred [28]
1984 Reflections Mr. Prunty [12]
1986 The Ballroom of Romance Eyes Horgan [12]
1986 Rawhead Rex Reverend Coot [12]
1986 Eat the Peach Boots [29]
1990 Fools of Fortune Lanigan [12]
1992 Far and Away Joe [25]
1995 Frankie Starlight Handy Paige [30]
1998 The Nephew Sean [6]
2000 Rat Father Geraldo [25]
2003 Veronica Guerin Judge Ballaugh [25]
2018 Remains Patrick Short, (final film role)[23]


  1. ^ "Actor and Comedian Niall Tóibín Dies Aged 89". Irish Times. 13 November 2019. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  2. ^ Molumby, Gerry (June 2005). "Interview With Niall Toibin". IrishInBritain. Archived from the original on 13 July 2011.
  3. ^ a b c Toibin, Niall (1997). Autobiography: "Smile and Be a Villain". Dublin: Town House. ISBN 1-57098-086-1.
  4. ^ a b "Honorary Conferrings Speeches Archive". University College Cork. 4 June 2010. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Press Release - Honorary Conferrings 2010 – University College Cork". University College Cork. 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2019. Niall [Tóibín] began training his voice as a child in the cathedral choir and the Opera House in Cork
  6. ^ a b "President leads tributes to the 'unforgettable' Niall Tóibín". Independent News & Media. 16 November 2019. Retrieved 18 November 2019. The Irish language played an important role in Niall's life and his love for it shone through in the books that he published, and through his involvement in Poitín, which was the first Irish language feature film ever made
  7. ^ a b Roche, Barry (10 February 2015). "Actor Niall Tóibín to receive Freedom of Cork". Irish Times. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  8. ^ "'Cork to me, in many ways, is heaven' - Niall Tóibín passes away a week shy of 90th birthday". Irish Examiner. 13 November 2019. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  9. ^ "Radio 4 Extra: Baldi". BBC. BBC. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  10. ^ Doyle, Jim. "Birth of Comedian & Actor Niall Tóibín". Seamus Dubhghaill. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  11. ^ "Niall Toibín to be honoured at Gaiety today". Irish Times. 11 May 2005. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  12. ^ a b c d e "Niall Tóibín, actor who played the cranky priest Frank MacAnally in 'Ballykissangel', Brendan Behan on Broadway and Tom Cruise's father in 'Far and Away' – obituary". The Telegraph. 16 November 2019. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  13. ^ O'Riordan, Sean (23 May 2015). "Niall Tóibín: 'Cork is not just home, it's heaven'". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  14. ^ a b "Actor and comedian Niall Tóibín dies at age 89". Independent News & Media. 13 November 2019. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  15. ^ "Ireland to Host Christian Film Awards". Irish Film & Television Network. 21 August 2002. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  16. ^ a b "IFTA to Honour Irish Screen Legend Niall Tóibín". Irish Film and Television Network. 25 October 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
  17. ^ "IFTA honours acting great Tóibín". RTÉ. 4 November 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  18. ^ McGreevy, Ronan (4 November 2011). "Higgins salutes lifetime achievement of old friend and veteran actor Niall Tóibín". The Irish Times. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  19. ^ "Three's company as academy honours Toibin". Irish Independent. 4 November 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  20. ^ Kemp, Stuart (3 November 2011). "Niall Tóibín Receives An IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award From The Irish Film & Television Academy". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  21. ^ Roche, Barry. "Actor and comic Niall Toibin awarded Freedom of Cork". The Irish Times. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  22. ^ "Family of Niall Toibin say he was living with dementia in years before he died". Irish Mirror. 28 December 2019. In the years before he died, Toibin[..] was diagnosed with a form of dementia called mild cognitive impairment
  23. ^ a b "Actor and comedian Niall Tóibín dies, aged 89". RTÉ. 13 November 2019.
  24. ^ "Actor and comedian Niall Tóibín dies aged 89". Journal Media. 13 November 2019. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  25. ^ a b c d e f "Official website - The Movies". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  26. ^ "Irish Film & TV Index - Film details - Flight of the Doves". Trinity College Dublin. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  27. ^ "The Iguana With The Tongue Of Fire (1971)". Frame Rated UK. 9 April 2019. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  28. ^ "Irish Film & TV Index - Film details - Lovespell". Trinity College Dublin. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  29. ^ "From The Vaults: Eat The Peach - Peter Ormrod - 30th Anniversary Screening". Irish Film Institute. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  30. ^ "Frankie Starlight". Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland. Retrieved 18 November 2019.

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