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‘A wonderful actor’

Wednesday, 16th August, 2017 6:10pm

One half of the beloved Cha and Miah duo has passed away at the age 84. Michael Twomey, also known as his alter-ego Miah, died yesterday morning. 

Mr Twomey, a legend of Cork theatre, was known for RTÉ’s ‘Pictorial Weekly’ which ran from 1971-1982 every Wednesday night.

He was born in 1933 in Blackrock and his fascination with theatre originated in the James Stack School, largely due to his mother’s interest in his acting talent.

In 1944, aged 11, he was introduced to stage audiences at the old Opera House. 

“He had a very good personality, very warm-hearted. He was a wonderful actor, but also a very good director of plays,” Frank ‘Cha’ Duggan told the Cork Independent yesterday. 

Mr Duggan partnered with Mr Twomey for almost 42 years. They began on the Halls programme ‘Newsbeat’ in 1969 which later changed its name to Pictorial Weekly.

“He was a superb director. He had a great eye for detail and he was a perfectionist in everything he did,” Mr Duggan added.

Close friend Declan Hassett, playright and author, also spoke of Mr Twomey’s attention to detail.

“He was the most pragmatic of directors. His direction of cast and crew was legendary. His attention to detail was a great quality,” Mr Hassett said.

Along with Mr Duggan, Mr Twomey was recognised for his theatrical achievements when he was granted the Freedom of the City in 2013. The duo were awarded a Jacobs Award from RTÉ in the 1970s also.

“He saw theatre as a window into the soul of the characters and an expression of humanity. Cha and Miah were loved throughout the country for comedic timing and delivery of lines like no other duo could do,” Mr Hassett said.

A member of the Everyman Theatre board for over 20 years and chairman of the board in 2016, Mr Twomey wrote and directed the annual pantomime at Cork Opera House for almost 30 years. He produced and directed ‘Summer Revels’ for 21 consecutive years in the Opera House.

“We were, very sadly, expecting this due to his ongoing illness but the shock of his loss is no less diminished. He was integral to shaping what is Cork theatre. He was a loyal friend, he had a great sense of fun, loved to banter and was always a gentleman in all his dealings,” said Pat Talbot, Director/Chief Executive of Everyman from 2001-2011.

“Michael was a hugely supportive and highly valued member of our board for many years. 

“His contributions were always intelligent and he balanced great passion and knowledge of the art form with a keen eye for the business side of the theatre also. I had the great pleasure of working with him and I’m so glad I got to see first-hand what a wonderful presence he was in a rehearsal room,” said Julie Kelleher, Artistic Director of the Everyman.

Although known for his theatrical prowess, Mr Twomey’s primary career was in insurance. Nonetheless, Mr Hassett said he was a dominant feature of Irish theatre in southern Ireland since the 1950s.

His loss is tremendous to Irish theatre, to national theatre. His final performance (in 2012) was a remarkable example of acting restraint and the powerfulness of his acting was particularly moving in that play,” Mr Hassett said.
Both the current Lord Mayor and a former Lord Mayor spoke on Mr Twomey’s passing.

Michael Twomey was a legend within Cork theatre. A true Corkonian, the people of Cork awaited his appearances on ‘Halls Pictorial Weekly,’ bringing the Cork humour to the national stage,” said Lord Mayor, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald.

Michael was a true legend of the theatrical life of Cork and he played a significant role in the artistic and cultural development of the city. He has left a legacy of work and talent he has mentored and developed over the years,” said Cllr John Buttimer, the former Lord Mayor who awarded Mr Twomey the Freedom of the City.

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