A leading figure in Irish theatre, Niall Tóibín was familiar to British audiences for spells with the National Theatre and television appearances that included The Irish RM, Stay Lucky and Ballykissangel.
He was closely associated with the work of Brendan Behan, playing in Borstal Boy nine times, the first at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre in 1967. Its Broadway run three years later secured him a Tony award.
Born in Cork, Tóibín’s early artistic endeavours included singing in the city’s cathedral choir and school plays. While working for the Irish civil service, he acted in amateur companies before joining the state broadcaster’s Radio Éireann Players in 1953, appearing frequently with the company until the late 1960s.
By then, his theatre profile had risen, with appearances at Dublin’s Abbey, Gate and Olympia theatres, notably in Behan’s The Hostage (1964) and Brian Friel’s Lovers (1967).
With the National Theatre, he was a memorable Oliver Cromwell in Keith Dewhurst’s The World Turned Upside Down (1978) and Jack Emery’s The Putney Debates (1979) and shared the stage with Albert Finney in Charles Wood’s Has ‘Washington’ Legs? (1978).
Tóibín reunited with Friel for Field Day’s 1988 premiere of Making History and was seen more recently in Jim Nolan’s The Salvage Shop (1998) with Red Kettle and on tour in Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple (2004).
In 2005, he left his handprints in cement outside Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre alongside those of Brian Friel, Luciano Pavarotti and other luminaries associated with the
Niall Tóibín was born on November 21, 1929, and died on November 13, aged 89.