President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to the actor, Tom Hickey, whose death has been announced.

The President described him as one of the greatest actors of his generation, who he said left an indelible imprint on Irish theatre.

Tom Hickey was in his 70s and had been a leading figure in the Irish acting world for more than six decades.

Born in Kildare, he was one of the founding members of Dublin's Focus Theatre and went on to work with many of Ireland's leading playwrights and directors.

He appeared in numerous feature films and will be remembered for television roles including that of 'Benjy' in the RTÉ series, 'The Riordans'.

Paying tribute, President Higgins described Tom Hickey as an actor who gave total commitment to his performance, to his art, and to his community.

In a statement, the Arts Council also expressed its "deep regrets" at the actor's death.

"His extraordinary range of work has left a lasting impression on people from several generations. Across his career, he was responsible for bringing defining new work to the stage. He was also renowned for a wide range of performances on the large and small screen."

His last appearance on stage was in a memorable performance of Beckett's poems, directed by Alan Gilsenan, the Arts Council said.

"We send our condolences to his family and friends and to all who grieve for him," the statement added.

RTÉ Director-General Dee Forbes said: "Among the greatest actors of his generation, Tom was not only a giant of Irish theatre, but also made an indelible impression on Irish audiences as Benjy in The Riordans, and in many roles spanning cinema and television across a long and distinguished career. We send our sincere condolences to Tom's family and friends, and to all who grieve for him."