The stage and screen actor Donal McCann has died in Dublin. He had been ill for some time. Mr. McCann was one of the most acclaimed Irish actors of recent years, known for his performances in a wide variety of roles.

President McAleese said that Ireland has lost a formidable acting talent, who displayed enormous commitment to his profession. The Minister for Arts and Heritage, Síle de Valera, said that he brought a touch of genius to every character he played. Former Arts Minister, Michael D. Higgins, said that the actor would be remembered as one of the greatest actors of all time. MEP Mary Banotti said that he had provided unforgettable theatrical moments for the past thirty years.

Donal McCann has been hailed by many as 'the best actor Ireland has ever produced'. He attended Terenure College in the 1950s . It was there that he began thinking of a career in the Theatre. The college had a stong Shakespearian tradition and it became clear to some of his teachers that he was 'actor material'.

However, he first began studying architecture in Bolton Street, though this was short-lived. He then worked in the Irish Press Newspaper. He eventually went to the Abbey School of Acting in the early sixties, from where he joined the company.

His Father had been the Lord Mayor of Dublin, a Fianna Fáil man and was also a playwright. Donal starred in one of his plays. His first big part in theatre came when he was cast as Tarry Flynn in the Patrick Kavanagh adaptation of the novel. At the age of twenty, he got his first big film role in "the Fighting Prince of Donegal", which was a Disney production.

Over the years he has acted in innumerable stage and screen productions. But, he will perhaps be best remembered for his TV role in "Strumpet City" in the seventies and in John Huston's film, "The Dead". Just recently he was highly acclaimed for his role in "the Steward of Christendom". He had been battling cancer for some time and he died last night in Dublin at the age of 56. He is survived by his sister Margaret.