Tóibín kept working until last year, appearing in the Irish short film Remains. His movie resume includes Tom Cruise’s father in Far & Away, Judge Ballaugh in Veronica Guerin; a poteen-maker in Poitín, and as islander Seán alongside Pierce Brosnan in The Nephew.
He also had television appearances on RTE’s The Clinic; and was also credited in Ballykissangel, RAT, The Ballroom of Romance, King of the Castle, Brideshead Revisited and Frankie Starlight amongst others.
Tóibín’s theater work included playing Behan in Borstal Boy on Broadway, and appearing in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot at the National Theatre in London.
Ireland President Michael D Higgins praised Tóibín for his “unforgettable performances in all of the Irish theatres.”
“It is with great sadness that I have learned of the death of Niall Tóibín,” Higgins said in a statement. “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.
RTE has a new documentary on Tóibín scheduled during December. The retrospective will mix family photos with excerpts from his film and television work and stand-up performances, and interviews with Pierce Brosnan, Gabriel Byrne and Jim Sheridan.
Dee Forbes, the director-general for RTÉ, said Tóibín was “a familiar face on RTÉ to generations of Irish people. A proud Corkman, he was as at home in film as on the stage, and an especially entertaining guest on many Late Late Shows over the years. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.”
Tóibín received an IFTA in 2011.
Tóibín was predeceased by his wife, Judy. Survivors include children Sean, Muireann, Aisling, Sighle and Fiana and seven grandchildren. No memorial plans have been announced.