Veteran Cork actor Michael Twomey, who died on Wednesday aged 84, was a versatile actor and writer whose work in the Cha and Miah TV comedy sketches was so successful it would have been appreciated almost anywhere, mourners at his funeral Mass were told today.
Playwright and theatre critic, Declan Hassett recalled that when Mr Twomey appeared as the pub philosopher, Miah, beside his sidekick and foil, Cha, played by Frank Duggan in Hall's Pictorial Weekly on RTÉ television in the 1970s, audiences were initially more taken with their Cork accents than with their scripts.
"People laughed first at the Cork accent but then they recognised the timing and delivery and the writing and the universality of the humour – there is universality in good humour, it travels well. Cha and Miah would have worked anywhere in the world – except possibly in the White House. "
Mr Hassett recalled how Mr Twomey and Mr Duggan along with that other stalwart of the Cork theatrical scene, Billa O’Connell, were worthy recipients of the Freedom of Cork in 2013 in recognition of their contribution to the cultural life of the city.
‘Friend and mentor’
Describing the late Mr Twomey as his “friend and mentor”, Mr Hassett said that the two great passions in his life were his family and the Everyman Palace Theatre where he performed and directed productions that contributed significantly to the cultural life of Cork.
"Michael's was a life of monumental achievement – from walking on the stage at the Old Cork Opera House in Eugene O'Neill's Ah Wilderness at the age of just 11 right through his role in popularising the plays of John B Keane to productions like Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman," he said.
Mr Hassett said that while the theatre was one great passion of Mr Twomey’s life, the other was his wife, Marie and family, Laura, Des and Sharon, and more recently, his grandchildren, Michael, Sophie, Alex, Julie, Rebecca and Sarah, of whom he was very proud.
And he recalled how Mr Twomey often spoke about how much he enjoyed being with his family. “Life could be all about adulation and being in the spotlight but when it came down to it, it was the home and being surrounded by family and friends that was the accolade he most desired.”
Among the many mourners present to sympathise with Mr Twomey's family were Mr Twomey's partner in the Cha and Miah sketches, Frank Duggan, playwright and director Pat Talbot, musician Jimmy Crowley and former director of the Cork Film Festival, Robin O'Sullivan.
Also present from the world of arts were sopranos Cara O'Sullivan and Majella Cullagh, former executive director of Cork Opera House, Gerry Barnes. Mathematician and humourist Des McHale and Bishop of Cork and Ross, Dr John Buckley also paid their respects.
Among the many other mourners were Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Tony Fitzgerald, Cork City CEO Ann Doherty, former Fine Gael TD Jim Corr, former PD TD Mairín Quill, as well as several members of Cork City Council who attended in their ceremonial robes.