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Retired clergyman dies as car swept away by flash flood

Published 14/09/2015

Torrential rain caused a flash flood on Achill Island, Co Mayo
Torrential rain caused a flash flood on Achill Island, Co Mayo

A retired clergyman has died after his car was swept away by a flash flood on an island off Ireland both he and his late wife had fallen in love with.

Rev Roger Grainger, 82, who was also a psychotherapist and actor, was a few hundred yards from the cottage he had recently bought on Achill Island, Co Mayo, when he was washed off the road by a torrent.

Rain at the time time was described as blinding and the flood was reportedly several feet deep.

Dr Grainger, a retired Anglican cleric in the Wakefield diocese in West Yorkshire, moved to Ireland several years ago with his late wife Doreen and settled in Mayo, first in Newport and more recently on Achill.

"He had a growing love and ended up with a full-blown love affair with Achill," local Church of Ireland cleric Rev Val Rogers said.

Dr Grainger was returning from dinner with friends in the Bervie Guesthouse in Keel when torrential rain hit, causing a flash flood near his home.

A local man discovered the accident, b ut due to the torrential conditions the man was unsure if Dr Grainger was still in the car or if he had managed to escape.

Dr Grainger was originally from Cheshire and was a curate at St John's Church in Wakefield.

He worked as a hospital chaplain and with mental health patients and also as psychotherapist and counsellor supporting people who had suffered trauma or emotional problems.

Dr Grainger trained as an actor at Rada, took to the stage at the Old Vic and had small roles in the likes of Heartbeat, Emmerdale and Last Of The Summer Wine.

His most recent role came as an elderly patient in last year's BBC mini-series Remember Me starring Michael Palin.

"Mostly he had character parts which he took a shine to. It was about the parts that he was right for. He was well respected and it was never a fame thing for him," his management Actors Direct said.

Dr Grainger moved to Achill after buying a house close to St Thomas' Church of Ireland where he helped local minister Rev Rogers who became a close friend.

He was also planning to embark on his eighth doctorate, and had been talking to National University of Ireland about completing a PhD on Irish expressionist theatre.

Rev Rogers paid a glowing tribute to his fellow clergyman.

"He was a most affectionate man and an utterly gregarious person," the clergyman said.

"Anyone around Keel would have known him, he was getting involved in local groups, he liked creative writing, he was a prolific author of anything to do with trauma therapy and liturgy drama, that intersection between healing and liturgy and faith.

"He was always interested in people. The parishioners are very, very distressed."

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