Hoey, Moira (1922–2010), actress, was born on 13 March 1922 in Cork city, the only daughter of two children of James Deady (d. 1952), a draper's assistant (described as a retired merchant at his death), and his wife Mary 'Cissie' (née Hickey). Christened Mary Frances, she used Moira all her life. The family spent a few years in Kinsale, Co. Cork, but then moved to Wilton Road in Cork city, and Moira attended the Ursuline convent in Blackrock. Performing in school plays started her lifelong love of the stage, and she joined amateur drama groups including the Little Theatre Society; Joe Lynch (qv) was a contemporary. On leaving school, she worked as a hairdresser. She was chosen by Micheál MacLiammóir (qv) for a small part in a play in the Cork Opera House, and with his encouragement gave up her job and joined a touring theatre company.
In the 1940s many aspiring actors got both life and stage experience in what were called 'fit-up companies', which put on shows in parish halls and small theatres, often in scarcely viable conditions. Moira Deady toured England for six years with an English company, and then returned to Ireland. She appeared in 1953 with a company under the direction of Eithne D'Alton (widow of Louis D'Alton (qv)), and continued to act after her marriage in August 1954 in Kilkee, Co. Clare, to Johnny Hoey, also an actor, with whom she had three daughters and a son.
Her standing in the world of the theatre was enhanced by her appearances in Dublin theatres in the 1950s, to generally very favourable reviews, and in 1965 she took up the part of Mary Riordan in The Riordans, the first rural television soap opera made in Ireland. Even though at the beginning of the show's fourteen-year run she was only 43, Moira Hoey played the part of a more-or-less elderly, conservative, married woman and mother with such conviction that, as the matriarch of the Riordans, she was one of the stalwarts of the show, achieving widespread recognition and popularity.
The programme was one of the first soap operas anywhere to be filmed outside the studio, on a real farm (in Co. Meath), and influenced later productions such as the British television drama Emmerdale. For years, the Sunday-night update on the doings of a farming community achieved RTÉ's biggest audiences; people identified with the storylines and characters, and commentators, both at the time and later, noted how the writers explored the themes of a traditional society being challenged by modernity and by new possibilities such as divorce and artificial contraception. Hoey's character's strong opposition to such developments, and her stoical subservience to tradition, was praised by conservatives, but Hoey was herself juggling work and family commitments in a way that many married women at the time would have disapproved of.
Her husband Johnny also acted in The Riordans for more than ten years and, like his wife, continued to act in other productions during breaks in filming. She achieved particular popularity in the 1970s in tours with the show 'Peg o' my heart'. In July 1974 the Hoeys were in a play together in Glasthule, Co. Dublin, when Johnny was taken ill and had to go to hospital at the end of the first act. True to theatre tradition, Moira carried on to the end of the show. Johnny Hoey was unwell for some time, and died in 1978.
In the following year, despite protests, RTÉ decided to end production of The Riordans, and Moira Hoey was doubly bereft; she did not act again for sixteen years, but then unsettled some viewers by her forceful performance as the travelling woman Nellie Connors in the rural soap opera Glenroe in a number of episodes from October 1994. She was thus one of the few actors to appear in both of RTÉ's leading rural soap operas. Hoey also had small parts in the film Angela's ashes (1999) and in other short films. She appeared as a guest on television quiz shows in the 1980s, and was interviewed for a television documentary about The Riordans in 2009.
She died in St Columcille's Hospital, Loughlinstown, Co. Dublin, on 15 November 2010, and was buried in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, where she had lived for many years.