Karl Shiels

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Karl Shiels
Born15 September 1971
Died (aged 47)
Dublin, Ireland
ResidenceCeannt Fort, Castleknock and Bloomfield Avenue[1]
Alma materGaiety School of Acting
Years active1998–2019
AgentLisa Richard[2]
Notable work
Henry IV, Part 1
At Swim-Two-Birds
The Spanish Tragedy
The Duchess of Malfi
The Shadow of a Gunman
This Lime Tree Bower
TelevisionFair City (2014–2019)
Peaky Blinders
The Tudors
Into the Badlands
Titanic: Blood and Steel
The Clinic
ChildrenTwin daughters[1]
AwardsBest Actor
Dublin Theatre Festival 1999
Judge's Special Prize
The Irish Times Theatre Awards 2013

Karl Shiels (15 September 1971[3]– 14 July 2019) was an Irish actor of both stage and screen.

His stage roles included Henry IV, Part 1, Penelope, At Swim-Two-Birds, The Spanish Tragedy, The Duchess of Malfi, The Shadow of a Gunman and This Lime Tree Bower. His screen roles included Fair City, Peaky Blinders and Batman Begins.

He died suddenly at the age of 47, with a play he had directed underway in Dublin and an ongoing screen role as Robbie Quinn in Fair City.


He took up performance in the early 1990s, training with the Gaiety School of Acting.[4] In 1998, he debuted with the Abbey Theatre.[5]

Among his stage theatre credits were Henry IV, Part 1, Beauty in a Broken Place, At Swim-Two-Birds and The Barbaric Comedies (those four for the Abbey), The Spanish Tragedy, The Duchess of Malfi, The Shadow of a Gunman, Conor McPherson's This Lime Tree Bower and Mark O'Rowe's Howie the Rookie, as well as the Druid Theatre Company production of Enda Walsh's Penelope.[4][6]

Shiels was artistic director of the Theatre Upstairs (above Lanigan's Bar on Eden Quay), and, before this, he had a company, Semper Fi.[2][5]

Among his screen credits were the films Batman Begins and Veronica Guerin, as well as the television series Peaky Blinders, The Tudors, Into the Badlands, Titanic: Blood and Steel, The Clinic and Doctors.[4][6][5] He played Robbie Quinn in the soap opera Fair City between 2014 and his death in 2019. As Quinn he held many high profile storylines alongside the actress Aisling O'Neill, who portrayed his on-screen lover Carol Foley. Quinn appeared on screen the night before his death in scenes with Carol, and also became embroiled in disputes with the characters Nora and Ray in the same episode.[4] He had worked on set up to two days before dying, the break only coming about due to the arrival of the weekend.[7] He had also been expected to play a leading role in the 30th anniversary episode, scheduled for September 2019.[8]

Awards and nominations[edit]

In 1999, Shiels won Best Actor at the Dublin Theatre Festival for his performance in Comedians.[4] In 2004, he was he was nominated in the Best Actor category at the Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA) awards for his performance in Capital Letters.[2] In 2010, he was nominated in the Best Actor category at The Stage Awards.[4] In 2011, he was nominated in the Best Actor category at The Irish Times Theatre Awards.[4] In 2013, The Irish Times Theatre Awards presented him with the Judge's Special Prize for his theatre work and involvement in developing fresh stage talent.[5] In 2016, he was nominated in the Best Actor category at the IFTAs.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Shiels was from Chapelizod in Dublin.[5] He was a cousin of Twin Peaks actress Amy Shiels.[9] He worked as an electrician until he turned to acting.[4] In addition, Shiels directed the play Bullfight on Third Avenue, which was running at the Bewley's Cafe Theatre when he died and was scheduled to run throughout the month.[5]


Karl Shiels died suddenly of natural causes on 14 July 2019, aged 47.[10][1][8] His colleagues in Fair City were informed of his death that morning and the news was relayed to the public that lunchtime.[2] Shiels was the second actor on the soap opera to die in less than a month, following the death of Tom Jordan a little over two weeks earlier in June.[2]


Year Title Role Notes
2003 Mystics Barry
2003 Veronica Guerin Gilligan Gang Member #1
2003 Intermission Wayne
2004 Capital Letters Keely
2005 Batman Begins Arkham Thug #3
2007 W.C. Rodney
2007 Waiting for Dublin Vito
2008 Eden Breffni Grehan
2009 Savage Eddie
2011 Haywire Goatee
2012 Shadow Dancer Mulville's Driver / Gunman
2012 Stitches Boss Clown
2014 Noble Driver
2014 Davin Damo
2015 The Hit Producer John 'The Elk


  1. ^ a b c "Death notice of Karl Shiels". 16 July 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Fair City actor Karl Shiels dies suddenly". Irish Independent. 16 July 2019.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Fair City actor Karl Shiels has died, aged 47". RTÉ News. 16 July 2019. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e f O'Riordan, Ellen (15 July 2019). "Tributes paid to 'force of nature' Fair City actor Karl Shiels (47) following death: Shiels, best-known for role as Robbie Quinn, was founding member of Theatre Upstairs". The Irish Times.
  6. ^ a b c "Karl Shiels: Irish TV and theatre star dies at 47". BBC News. 15 July 2019.
  7. ^ "Karl Shiels' final hours unveiled as he filmed Fair City days before tragic death: The Peaky Blinders star had been filming scenes for Fair City just hours before he tragically died". 16 July 2019. The actor, who played Robbie Quinn in the show, was working on the soap on Friday, just two days before he died. Close pals of the star have revealed that Karl worked right up to the weekend as they denied reports he had been falling asleep on the set, reports Mirror Online.
  8. ^ a b Blake Knox, Kirtsy (17 July 2019). "Writers want to pay tribute to Shiels in rejig of 'Fair City' plot". Irish Independent.
  9. ^ "Sleep well, cousin. You were born to shock us, in all the best ways". 15 July 2019.
  10. ^ "Fair City actor Karl Shiels has died, aged 47". RTÉ. 15 July 2019. Retrieved 22 July 2019.

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