Floods claim life of actor and clergyman

Dr Roger Grainger was a theologian, author, actor and psychotherapist who died when his car hit floodwater on Achill Island

A retired clergyman who acted in popular TV shows including Last of the Summer Wine lost his life when his car got caught in floodwater on a west of Ireland island.

The accident happened as weather warnings were put in place for Kerry, Galway, Mayo, Clare, Cork and Limerick as heavy rain lashed the Republic.

Noted theologian, psychotherapist and actor Dr Roger Grainger was driving to his home close to Doogort on Achill after having dinner when he lost control of his car in severe rain at around 10pm on Sunday.

Residents battled to reach the 82-year-old, whose car was trapped in fast-moving waters, but he died at the scene.

Dr Grainger, who was a long-serving member of the Church of England, had settled on Achill in recent weeks after spending years working as a counsellor in the Mayo region following his retirement from the church.

The academic had started out as an actor between 1956 and 1968, before going to theological college and training for the ministry and later becoming a therapist.

During his career in the church he worked in a psychiatric hospital for several years before returning to acting.

His TV credits included four episodes of Last of the Summer Wine as well as an appearance as a farmer in rural police drama Heartbeat, and a role alongside Monty Python's Michael Palin in Remember Me.

Dr Grainger also wrote widely on theological issues as well as well as working as a psychotherapist.

His friend, Reverend Val Rogers, said the dead man had served in the Diocese of Wakefield in England but had remained “passionately involved” in acting.

He had been hoping to begin working to earn his eighth doctorate with NUI Galway at the time of his death.

Dr Grainger's late wife Doreen had encouraged her husband to travel frequently to the west of Ireland and following her death he initially rented a house in Newport, Co Mayo, but had moved to Doogort last month.

Dr Rogers said he believed that his friend had been “blinded” by torrential rain and had “entered a torrent on the road” which carried him into a ditch and left him trapped.

Separately, motorists were being told to drive only in exceptional circumstances in the Clifden and Cleggan areas of Co Galway yesterday.

Firefighters had to rescue the occupants of a car in Cleggan at around 9pm on Sunday after their car became trapped in floodwater.

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