Fair City actor lived his life ‘to the full’, funeral Mass told

Actor Karl Shiels, who died on Monday aged 47, played shady Robbie Quinn in the soap

Fair City actor Karl Shiels, who died suddenly last Monday aged just 47, "filled his life and lived it to the full", his funeral Mass has been told.

Addressing a packed Church of Our Lady Mother of the Church in Dublin's Castleknock on Thursday morning, parish priest Fr Kieran Coghlan said: "What's important is how we fill that gap between the time we come into this world and the time we leave it."

He “lived his life and lived it to the full and we have a lot to be thankful for as we gather to remember him here today. Karl has made a difference in the lives of all those he came across and we acknowledged that today in gratitude,” said Fr Coghlan.

Mr Shiels's partner Laura Honan spoke of all the plans they had. "He burned bright like a comet and in these last few days the explosion of love has been deeply palpable and genuinely unforgettable," she said.


His stepmother, Irene, read the poem What is Dying? by Bishop Charles Henry Brent. His father, Harry, recalled how Karl was "my eldest son and best pal. Him and I had our moments, I used to say to Laura, how do you put up with him?"


When he told his parents he wanted to be an actor, his father remembered telling him, "I'm not surprised. You were an actor since you were two." Later, his son studied at the Gaiety School of Acting.

Gifts brought to the altar during Mass included “his much travelled hat”, his Buddha beads “which always brought him peace”, an LP “because of his love of music”, family photos and a book of poems.

Music included Billy Joel’s Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel), Nick Cave’s Into My Arms, and his Jubilee Street, which was sung as the remains were carried from the church to a standing ovation. They were taken to Newlands Cross Crematorium.

Chief mourners were his partner Laura Honan, twin daughters Iseabel and Saoirse and their mother Dearbhla, his father Harry, stepmother Irene, brother Jason, sisters Lisa and Lianne, and stepbrother Justin.

The large attendance included many people outside the church as well as inside it.

They included well-known figures from the theatre world including actors Pauline McLynn, Owen Roe, Barry McGovern, John Kavanagh, Tina Kelleher, Jonathan White, Phelim Drew, Michael James Ford, Arthur Riordan, Peter Hanly, Eamon Morrissey, Bryan Murray, Tony Tormey, Martina Shanley, Rebecca Grimes, Joe Hanley, Una Crawford O'Brien, Aisling O'Neill and many other cast members from RTÉ's Fair City soap.


Also there were theatre director Lynne Parker, former Abbey Theatre director Fiach Mac Conghail, Tony O Dálaigh of Gaiety School of Acting and RTÉ producer Kevin Reynolds.

From Chapelizod in Dublin, Shiels was best-known for his five years in Fair City, in which he played Robbie Quinn, a shady wheeler-dealer character. Before acting, he was an electrician.

He won a Best Actor award at the Dublin Theatre Festival for his role in Comedians in 1999. He was nominated for a Best Actor award at the Irish Times Theatre Awards in 2011 and for the 2010 Stage Awards.

He starred in numerous TV shows, including RTÉ's The Clinic, Titanic: Blood and Steel, Peaky Blinders and The Tudors.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times