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Death of a legend

TRIBUTES today poured in for iconic actor Mick Lally who died suddenly.

The much-loved star who will be forever remembered as Miley Byrne in TV soap Glenroe passed away at the age of just 64.

His co-star and on-screen wife Mary McEvoy told the Herald that Ireland has lost an “icon”.

“He was a sweet old soul and many people around the country will be feeling a sense of loss today,” she said.

Tributes from the world of television and theatre poured in this morning as news of Lally's death spread.

He died after a short stay in hospital.

A family member today thanked the public for their thoughts and condolences but said they do not want to speak further at this stage. Mick is survived by his elderly parents, wife Peggy and their three children Saileog, Darach and Maghnus.

Mick Lally became a household name for his 18 years as a farmer in Bracken and Glenroe, and will forever be immortalised by his catchphrase ‘Well, Holy God’. However, Lally also had an acclaimed career on stage and featured in a number of movies.

He was a founder member of the Druid Theatre Company and just last year starred in The Last Days Of A Reluctant Tyrant at the Abbey Theatre.

Director of the Abbey Theatre Fiach Mac Conghail said: “The main difference between him and his character Miley, and it's important, is that he was an erudite man, a man of letters, a man of extreme intelligence…”

Lally also starred in the BBC television series, Ballykissangel, and in the awardwinning Ballroom Of Romance.

And he worked alongside Hollywood director Oliver Stone with a small part in the blockbuster movie Alexander.

Strong

Earlier this year the actor once again performed with friend and former Glenroe colleague Mary McEvoy (Biddy) when the pair starred in The Matchmaker in Dublin's Tivoli Theatre.

Lally also provided the voice of Brother Aidan in The Secret Of Kells, which was nominated in the category of Best Animated Film at the 82nd Academy Awards.

An emotional Ms McEvoy, told the Herald today that she knew he hadn't been in good health recently “but he was always so strong on stage that it was hard to tell”.

She said: “Mick and I were friends for 30 years. We didn't live in each other's pockets and we might not see each other for a year. But whenever we did, it was just like we had met each other yesterday. He was always there.”

Actor and director Alan Stanford described Lally as “a lovely, gorgeous actor”.

“He had a purity in his acting. What we always strive for is not to be acting and Mick had that in spades,” he said.

“His performances were always considered, they were always beautifully thought through but there was a simplicity of presentation. You fell in love with him and especially that beautiful voice.

“Listening to him speak was always a delight and a pleasure...you could actually listen to that voice forever.”

Lally was born in Tourmakeady, Co Mayo, in November 1945. He was a graduate of University College Galway and began his career as a teacher. However, he gave up the profession to pursue a career on the stage.

He was a proud Irish speaker and in recent years took up roles in a number of TG4 productions, most notably on soap Ros Na Run.

Spokesman for TG4 Padhraic O Ciardha told the Herald: “He was a Gaeltacht man, who was quite active in the campaign to establish an Irish language channel.”

Lally also enjoyed some musical success when the single The Byroad To Glenroe went to the top of the Irish charts in 1990.