The death has taken place in Cork of legendary entertainer Billa O'Connell.

The 91-year-old passed away earlier this morning.

Born in the Lough area of the city, he made his debut in Cork pantomime in 1947 and for generations of Corkonians, there was only one Dame and that was Billa O'Connell.

In his career of over six decades, he entertained audiences across the country but was beloved in his own city where he was awarded an honorary MA by University College Cork in 1996, and in 2013, was awarded the Freedom of Cork City.

A truly legendary Cork character, he is survived by his wife, Nell, their six children, 19 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.

Paying tribute, Denis McSweeney, Chair of the Everyman Theatre's Board said that Billa "whether as a wit, a raconteur, a singer or a performer, he had that power to hold an audience in the palm of his hand, and to lead them through sadness, disappointment, shock, tears but above all, laughter."

Billa was born on Christmas Day 1929, and Mr McSweeney said "it is plain that he made it a lifetime dedication to ensure that children would always enjoy that special time of year. He inherited the mantle of dame from men like Ignatius Comerford, but he made it his own special role".

Mr McSweeney said theatre in Cork is poorer for his passing.