Tom Hickey (actor)

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Tom Hickey
Born1944 (1944)
Kildare, Ireland
Died (aged 77)
Occupation Actor
Years active1963–2021

Tom Hickey (1944 – 1 May 2021) was an Irish actor who appeared on stage and screen in a career that began in the early 1960s. He was best known for playing Benjy Riordan in the long-running television series, The Riordans .


Early life

Born in Kildare, [1] Hickey began his career in 1963 at Deirdre O'Connell's Stanislavski Studio in Dublin where he trained in Stanislavski's system of acting. [2] He said that he saw his choice of profession as a "vocation", having decided to become an actor when he was five or six years old. [3]


In 1965, Hickey joined the cast of RTÉ television's new rural drama series, The Riordans . He went on to play the part of Benjy Riordan in the successful serial for the next sixteen years. [4]

In 2001, he made a rare venture into television advertising with his appearances in a series of commercials for Club Orange, a soft drink. [5] The first of these was directed by Declan Lowney, the director of Father Ted . [6] Lowney also directed Moone Boy , a Sky television series in which Hickey played Granddad Joe.


On stage, Hickey favoured parts in the work of modern Irish playwrights such as Tom Murphy, Frank McGuinness, Bernard Farrell, and Marina Carr. In the early 1980s, the playwright Tom MacIntyre asked him to play the lead role in his adaptation of Patrick Kavanagh's poem The Great Hunger. Following the success of that collaboration, he has become an acclaimed interpreter of MacIntyre's work, in such plays as Rise Up Lovely Sweeney, The Gallant John Joe and What Happened Bridgie Cleary. [7]


As a character actor, Hickey appeared in numerous films, including My Left Foot , Fools of Fortune , Gothic , [8] Inside I'm Dancing , Stella Days , Breakfast on Pluto , and Possession . He was also cast in two of director Lenny Abrahamson's films: Garage and What Richard Did .

Personal life

In 2013, Hickey was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. [9] During an interview on The Marian Finucane Show on 11 April 2015, he spoke of his determination to continue acting despite the onset of this condition. [10]

Hickey died on Saturday, 1 May 2021 at age 77, with tributes paid by President Michael D. Higgins. [11] [12]

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  1. Sunday Independent, "Enjoying the psychic magic", 14 July 2002
  2. The Irish Times, "Memories in Focus, July 25, 1992,
  3. The Irish Times, "A multiple one-to-one experience", 16 July 2005
  4. The Irish Times, "After the Riordans", 9 July 1981
  5. Irish Independent, "176 reality shows... get me out of here!", 13 January 2005,
  6. The Irish Times, "C&C to double spend on Club Orange brand with elaborate and surreal television campaign", 6 December 2001
  7. The Irish Times, "Between two worlds", 21 April 2005
  8. Muir, John Kenneth (28 July 2010). Horror Films of the 1980s. ISBN   9780786455010.
  9. Sligo Champion, "Actor Tom Hickey urges Parkinson's patients to reach out", 11 Apr. 2015
  10. Marian Finucane, RTÉ Radio 1
  11. 'It was a privilege to know him' - President Higgins leads tributes to actor Tom Hickey
  12. "Tom Hickey remembered as 'one of the greatest actors of his generation'". The Irish News. 3 May 2021. Retrieved 11 January 2022.