Veteran Cork actor Michael Twomey dies aged 84

Stalwart of the Cork stage was best known for his role in RTÉ’s ‘Hall’s Pictorial Weekly’

Michael Twomey (right)  in 2012 with Frank Duggan with whom he played as characters Miah and Cha in “Hall’s Pictorial Weekly”. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Michael Twomey (right) in 2012 with Frank Duggan with whom he played as characters Miah and Cha in “Hall’s Pictorial Weekly”. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

Fond tributes have been paid to veteran Cork actor Michael Twomey who has died aged 84.

A stalwart of the Cork theatrical scene for decades, he was best known nationally for his role as Miah in the comedy combo, Cha and Miah, which he performed with his close friend Frank Duggan on Hall’s Pictorial Weekly on RTÉ television in the 1970s.

Twomey’s Miah played the pub philosopher intent on enlightening Frank Duggan’s Cha. The two first featured in a 1969 sketch on the dangers of smoking.

Although he had a small part in John Huston’s Moby Dick starring Gregory Peck and filmed in Youghal in 1956, Twomey was better known as a stage actor. He made his debut in the Old Cork Opera in 1944 as an 11-year-old in Eugene O’Neill’s Ah Wilderness.

Cork playwright and director Pat Talbot said Twomey was a pivotal figure in Cork theatre together with James N Healy, Dan Donovan and Frank Sanquest when they established the Theatre of the South in the late 1950s and premiered John B. Keane’s Sive in the early 1960s.

Talbot said it was a “very sad day for Cork” as Twomey had made a massive contribution to the theatrical fabric of the city, being involved in the Everyman Theatre in all its guises in Castle Street, Fr Matthew Hall and more recently the Everyman Palace Theatre on MacCurtain Street.

“He was exceptionally versatile both as an actor, director, producer and indeed scriptwriter; he was a major force behind years and years of Christmas pantomimes in the Cork Opera House and the Everyman in early years and was a general all rounder when it came to the theatre,” he said.

“When the Freedom of Cork was bestowed on him and Frank Duggan a couple of years back, it was reflecting his extraordinary contribution to the cultural life of the city and he brought an enormous passion to bear on the theatre which rubbed off on me over the years.”

‘Superb turn’

Julie Kelleher, artistic director at the Everyman Palace, said: “We are so sorry to see him go. He was an absolute stalwart of Cork theatre. He last appeared in a play called the Outgoing Tide by American playwright Bruce Graham in 2015 where he played a father suffering from the early stage of Alzheimer’s and he did a superb turn in that.”

Denis McSweeney, chairman of the Everyman Palace Board, said Cork and Ireland had lost “a cultural giant”.

President Michael D Higgins said Twomey was “a man of immense character and talent, and one of our most gifted actors who made a profound and distinctive contribution to our society. He was a man of powerful presence coupled with captivating personality and talent. His contribution and commitment to theatre and the arts was immeasurable.”

Twomey, who had been ill for some time, died at the Bons Secours Hospital in Cork on Wednesday. He is survived by his wife, Marie, an actor whom he met while playing in As You like It at the Loft, his daughters Laura and Sharon and son Des, as well as his many grandchildren.