Crowds line streets to say goodbye to Father Ted star Brendan Grace
Veteran entertainer Brendan Grace was loved by everybody and his only vocation in life was to make people happy, his funeral mass has heard.
Hundreds of people lined the streets of the Liberties in Dublin on Monday to pay their respects to the much-loved Dubliner, who died last week at the age of 68 after a short illness.
The crowd cheered and applauded and the sang the words of the Dublin Saunter along with the Forget Me Not Choir as his coffin arrived at the Church of St Nicholas of Myra on Francis Street.
There was standing-room only for the large crowd of mourners inside the church, while the huge crowd outside the church listened to the mass on speakers.
Figures from the music and political world came together to pay tribute to the stand-up comedian and Father Ted star.
The actor played Father Fintan Stack in the popular comedy series about three priests and he also starred in the 2013 TV film Brendan Grace’s Bottler.
Comedian Brendan O’Carroll and his wife Jennifer Gibney, former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, entertainer Twink and singer Dickie Rock were among those who attended the mass.
Former Ireland international footballer Niall Quinn, singer Daniel O’Donnell and RTE’s Marty Morrissey and DJ Ronan Collins were also present to pay their respects.
The mass began with Grace’s grandchildren James, Patrick and Aiden, bringing gifts to the alter to symbolise the comedian’s life. They included a microphone, a book of jokes entitled Amusing Grace and a guitar.
Red Hurley, Paddy Cole and Finbar Furey paid a musical tribute to their friend.
Irish president Michael D Higgins was represented by his aide de camp Col Liam Condon and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was represented by his ADC Commandant Caroline Burke.
Fr Brian Darcy, who celebrated the funeral mass, told mourners that the entertainer’s memory would forever live on.
“Brendan Grace will never die because all of us have enthusiastic, brilliant and long-lasting, life-lasting and life-changing memories of the wonderful man that he was – the humanity of the man, the generosity of the man, the goodness of the man,” Fr Darcy said.
He added that Grace’s legacy to the world would be one of goodness, laughter and generosity.
“All of his vocation in life was quite simply, nothing more, nothing less, than to lift the gloom of the nation and to lift the gloom of the people who came to see him,” he said.
He continued: “His only vocation in life was to make people happy.”
Fr Darcy, a lifelong friend of Grace, told mourners the comedian was a unifying force.
“Everybody loved Brendan Grace, protestant, catholic, young, old, cultured, uncultured. It didn’t matter what you were. Educated, non-educated. They all loved Brendan,” he said.
Each of Grace’s four children – Amanda, Melanie, Bradley and Brendan Patrick – delivered a eulogy to their beloved father.
They all tried to answer the question they had been asked all their lives: what it is like to have Brendan Grace as your dad?
Brendan Patrick described his father as “the kindest, gentlest and most compassionate person” he had ever known.
He added that relationships with his family, friends and fans were the most important things to his father.
Melanie Grace said their childhood was “far from ordinary, it was actually extraordinary”.
“Being Brendan Grace’s daughter is simply like being enveloped by a massive hug from a mighty protector, for 41 years,” she told those gathered.
She thanked him for his optimism and years of generosity not only to his family but his fans.
“For most you’re a legend in showbusiness, but to me you’re and always will be a legend of a dad,” she added.
“You’ve certainly earned your final bow. Rest easy dad.”
Bradley fondly described his father as “generous, wise, confusing, beautifully strange and yes, hilarious” and said ultimately having him as a father was fun and “like experiencing unbridled kindness”.
While Amanda said her father was “a force of nature” and “a bit of a non-conformist” and “considerate of so many”.
She said he filled their lives with love and that she had no doubt that the heavens opened for him.
Grace died last Thursday surrounded by his family, after being diagnosed with lung cancer in recent weeks.
He is survived by his wife, Eileen, and their four children, Bradley, Melanie, Brendan and Amanda.
The entertainer 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.