Tributes paid as Father Ted comedian Brendan Grace dies at 68

Beloved Dublin comedian Brendan Grace has died after a short illness
By Aoife Moore

BRENDAN Grace made a "profound contribution to the deep wellspring of Irish wit", President Michael D Higgins said yesterday following the Dublin comedian's death after a short illness.

The veteran entertainer, famous for his schoolboy character Bottler, gained international attention after playing Fr Fintan Stack in popular Channel 4 comedy series Father Ted.

He died in the early hours of Thursday, surrounded by his family, after being diagnosed with lung cancer 10 days ago, his manager confirmed.

He is survived by his wife, Eileen, and their four children Bradley, Melanie, Brendan and Amanda.

The actor had lived in the US for many years, but returned to his native Dublin in early June, where he was first diagnosed with pneumonia, before his terminal cancer diagnosis.

President Michael D Higgins praised Grace's "spontaneous wit and his sense of timing, his obvious delighting in interaction with his audiences", saying he had been "a profound contribution to the deep wellspring of Irish wit".

"His best-loved characters will endure, precisely because they are both recognisable and representative of the experiences lived and recalled by Irish people of all ages," he said.

Tom Kelly, Grace's manager for 27 years, told Virgin Media One's Ireland:AM programme his death is a great loss to Ireland.

"Although he was aware of the outcome himself in the last few days when the cancer was diagnosed, it's a great shock to everybody," he said.

"He was very weak, he didn't wish to have chemo or anything like that, and the inevitable happened.

"He was one of the greats in modern entertaining, it's a huge loss."

Dublin Lord Mayor Paul Mc Auliffe opened a Book of Condolence for the "true comic genius" at the Mansion House which the public can sign until 5pm today.

"Brendan Grace (RIP) was a true Dubliner who captured the unique Dublin sense of humour and brought it to audiences at home and across the world," he said.

Comedian Brendan O'Carroll, writer and star of Mrs Brown's Boys, said he was "a great comedy legend".

"He opened doors for so many of us and leaves a legacy of love and laughter that will echo through this land and we will all mourn his passing."

Thousands of messages have been posted by fans across social media recalling fond memories of watching Grace with their families, calling him a "legend of Irish comedy".

Dee Forbes, director-general of Ireland's state broadcaster RTÉ, said he was "one of Ireland's original funny men, and one of Irish comedy's true pioneers".

"Through his live shows, his live recordings, The Brendan Grace Show and many memorable guest appearances on RTÉ's The Late Late Show, Brendan established himself in the hearts of generations of fans, not just in Ireland but all over the world.

"Importantly, he also paved the way for many of the wonderful comedians this country has produced over the last 20 years or so and leaves behind a legacy he and his family can be proud of."

Funny Man, a documentary directed by Brian Reddin which looked back over the career of Grace, will be repeated at 10.15pm on Friday on RTÉ One.

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