Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Tributes after Father Ted comedy star Frank Kelly dies at age of 77

By Michael McHugh and David Wilcock

Published 29/02/2016

Frank Kelly
Frank Kelly
Frank Kelly with his fellow cast members from Father Ted — Ardal O’Hanlon, Dermot Morgan and Pauline McLynn

The Irish actor who played Father Jack in the Father Ted comedy series has died ­- exactly 18 years after his comedy co-star Dermot Morgan.

Frank Kelly (77) was the feisty parody of a drunken priest whose role lampooning Catholicism helped make the series a massive hit at home and abroad.

He spent 60 years on screen and stage but revealed last November that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Ardal O'Hanlon, the surviving actor who played the third of the trio of hapless clergymen, said: "Frank was an all-round talent, an institution in Irish entertainment, a very determined professional and he'll be greatly missed by all who knew him."

As well as appearing on the Channel 4 sitcom, he had more recent roles in Emmerdale and Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie.

But he is best known for playing the irreverent and foul-mouthed priest Father Jack Hackett.

Father Ted writer Graham Linehan tweeted: "Terribly sad news. Thanks for everything."

Morgan's son Don tweeted about the coincidence of the date of his co-star's death.

"Isn't life just weird? Frank Kelly going on Dad's anniversary".

The programme about three priests and their housekeeper living on the fictional Craggy Island, somewhere off Ireland's west coast, attracted huge audiences in Ireland, Britain and abroad.

It aired over three series between 1995 and 1998 and won a string of Bafta awards.

One of his defining quotes was "Drink! Feck! Arse! Girls!"

Father Ted Crilly (Dermot Morgan), Father Dougal McGuire (Ardal O'Hanlon) and Mrs Doyle (Pauline McLynn) were shown to be generally tolerant of his drunken antics.

In a recent interview with the Irish Times about Father Ted, Kelly said: "One of my stand-out memories was filming the consecration of the Holy Stone of Clonrichert up on the Cliffs of Moher, which was shot in the middle of a blizzard.

"I was the one nearest the edge and I nearly went over. It's the nearest I ever came to meeting my maker while working."

The actor beat bowel cancer in 2011 and underwent procedures to remove two small skin cancers in 2014.

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