'Greatest'actor Maureen Toal dies

Sat, Aug 25, 2012, 01:00

TRIBUTES WERE paid yesterday to “one of Ireland’s most loved actresses”, Maureen Toal, who passed away peacefully in her sleep at her home in Sandycove, Dublin, early yesterday morning.

The 82-year-old, who was probably best known for her role as Teasy McDaid in the RTÉ drama Glenroe (during the 1990s), had a distinguished acting career spanning 60 years.

She joined the Abbey Theatre in 1946, at 16, and over the years there performed some of the strongest roles on the stage including the Widow Quinn in JM Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World and Bessie Burgess in Seán O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars.

Toal was last night remembered by Fiach Mac Conghail, director of the Abbey Theatre, as one of Ireland’s most loved actresses.

“The theatre world salutes a great acting talent and I know that she will be missed by her friends and colleagues in the theatre community,” he said.

Speaking last night, actor Rosaleen Linehan said Toal was a role model for her. “She was a wonderful actress and a very funny and generous woman,” she said.

Playwright Frank McGuinness wrote parts for Toal including the one-woman show, Baglady, a part which, her family said yesterday, was one of her highlights.

The late Hugh Leonard also wrote parts for her including roles in Great Big Blonde and A Life while the late John B Keane created Mame Fadden in The Change in Mame Fadden for her.

In 2010, Toal was awarded an honorary doctorate in literature at University College Dublin for which McGuinness delivered the citation, describing Toal as “our greatest actress”. He also praised her performances including Maggie in Arthur Miller’s After the Fall and particularly her lead roles in his own plays, The Factory Girls and Baglady, where, he said, she told the toughest of stories with devastating honesty. “Hers is the look out of which were fashioned the masks of comedy and tragedy.”

Toal is survived by her son Colm O’Shea, grandchildren Paul, Mark and Ellen, a brother, two sisters and nieces and nephews.

The funeral arrangements will be published on Monday.