The death has been announced of the actor and comedian Niall Tóibín who died in Dublin early today after a long illness.

The actor was working up until last year when he appeared in a Irish short film Remains. His film career saw him play an array of memorable characters including 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.

Television appearances included RTÉ's The Clinic; with his screen credits including; BallykissangelRAT, The Ballroom of Romance, King of the Castle, Brideshead Revisited and Frankie Starlight amongst others.

President Michael D Higgins paid tribute to Tóibín and praised his "unforgettable performances in all of the Irish theatres".

"It is with great sadness that I have learned of the death of Niall Tóibín," President Higgins said.

"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.

"Sabina and I send our deepest condolences to his children Sighle, Aisling, Fiana, Sean and Muireann and the other members of his family, and to all those who so loved his work."

RTÉ previously announced a new documentary on Niall Tóibín, which is due to air as part of the forthcoming Christmas schedule.

With exclusive access to rare family archive and countless excerpts from his TV shows, movies and stand-up performances, the documentary will offer a rare insight into one of Ireland's greatest comical minds. It will feature interviews with all of Niall's children, as well as Pierce Brosnan, Gabriel Byrne and Jim Sheridan.

Dee Forbes, Director-General, RTÉ, said: "Niall Tóibín started acting in the 1950s and spent fourteen great years with the Radio Éireann Players. He became, ultimately, 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."

On-stage highlights included when he played Behan in Borstal Boy both in the Abbey Theatre and on Broadway, he was in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot by at the National Theatre, London. He also played Andy in Brian Friel's Lovers at The Gate Theatre.

In 2011 he was awarded an IFTA, with actor Stephen Rea paying tribute to Tóibín calling him a "dream to work with" adding "he is one of the great figures in our business, in our art, I have an immense fondness for him, he has a very sweet nature as well."

The late Irish writer Ulick O’Connor on the same occasion said that Tóibín was a "major actor" who, alongside Donal McCann, "manifested the Abbey style, they kept it alive."

He is predeceased by his wife, Judy, and is survived by his children Sean, Muireann, Aisling, Sighle and Fiana and his seven grandchildren.