Niall Tobin saluted by stars, friends and his family

A special programme on legendary Cork man Niall Tóibín airs on RTÉ tonight.
Niall Tobin saluted by stars, friends and his family

GREAT TALENT: Niall Tóibín in the RTE drama Bracken. He died in November, aged 89

PIERCE Brosnan, Gabriel Byrne, Stephen Rea and Deirdre O’Kane are among a galaxy of stars who pay tribute to the late, great Cork comedian Niall Tóibín in a documentary tonight, December 29.

Tóibín, who grew up on the northside of the city, passed away eight days short of his 90th birthday in November.

A special programme, Niall Tóibín — Everyman on RTÉ1 at 9.30pm tonight, December 29, pays tribute to his life and career, which spanned seven decades.

We see Niall’s daughters begin the task of documenting and archiving the huge collection of film and theatrical memorabilia which their father had collected over his long career.

As they look back over these memories, the documentary celebrates Niall’s life through a series of talking heads from fans and colleagues and a huge amount of archive.

What emerges is a poignant and funny story of a man who managed to excel in every field of Irish entertainment — uniquely successful on radio, stage, TV, film and stand-up comedy — as well as an insight into what made him so popular and a look at his legacy as we hear from those comics who have been inspired by him. With exclusive access to rare family archive and excerpts from his TV and film and stand-up performances, it provides a rare insight into one of Ireland’s greatest comical minds.

Interviewees include former James Bond actor Brosnan, who made his screen debut alongside Niall in Murphy’s Stroke, Byrne — who started off in RTÉ drama Bracken with Niall — and Rea, who appeared on stage with the Corkman.

We also hear from Holt McCallany, star of Mindhunter and long time friend of Niall, and Jim Sheridan, who appeared in The Borstal Boy with him. Others include co-stars Fionnula Flanagan, Mary McEvoy, Des Keogh, Eamon Morrissey, Victoria Smurfit and Don Wycherley, while fans Deirdre O’Kane and Jon Kenny, and his friend Colm Wilkinson also contribute.

It is an amazing celebration of his career, which began in Cork, where he was born in 1929, and performed as a child in the cathedral choir and the Opera House.

In his teens, Niall joined a drama society attached to the Gaelic League, where he caught the acting bug. Reared in an Irish-speaking household, all his early roles were in Irish. In fact, he didn’t learn to speak English until he started school.

In 1953, he quit his day job at the Civil Service and went on to become one of the most recognisable and celebrated actors on Irish stage and screen.

There is another chance to see the documentary Seó Man — Niall Tóibín on TG4 on Monday, December 30 at 7.30pm, with more tributes to the great man.

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