Father Ted star and comedian Brendan Grace dies aged 68
Legendary Dublin comedian and entertainer Brendan Grace has died, aged 68.
Grace passed away overnight, his management team confirmed to Independent.ie.
Celebrity friends and family rallied around the much-loved comic in recent weeks after it emerged he was battling pneumonia and lung cancer.
Famous for his schoolboy character Bottler, Grace lives in West Palm Beach in Florida with his wife Eileen but was working in Ireland when his health took a turn.
Mr Grace’s son-in-law, Frank Gillespie, spoke to RTE Radio One’s Liveline show earlier this month expressing the family’s gratitude for the public's support.
"The amount of cards, phone calls, people enquiring - we're just inundated with everything. Brendan is battling away and he just wanted to let his fans know he loves them all out there, he knows everything that's going on and he's received all the wishes,” Mr Gillespie said.
"From every part of the world, people are calling us and sending us wishes so we just wanted to get back and say a big thank you to everybody.
“He's battling away - we're fighting to get out there again, to do his gigs and to keep going. We're thinking, this is just a little set back and we'll keep everybody informed.
“We want to thank all of the doctors and nurses and everybody that’s taking care of Brendan. He’s been well minded, especially by his wife Eileen.
“We’re all around him, he still has the humour and he’s making us laugh. We’ll have to get him up out of that bed and get out there again. "We’re thanking everybody for the well wishes,” Mr Gillespie added.
Celebrity friends spoke to Independent.ie of their shock at the news of his diagnosis.
Paying tribute to her good friend, Twink said; "We've worked together, we've got twisted together, we've laughed so much.
"I love his devoted wife, she's equally a lifelong friend of mine.
"I love Brendan's talent, I love Brendan. I'm sending strength and love and good wishes, as is the whole country."
Actress June Rogers said: "I was so shocked when I found out, he’s such a lovely man. I’m so fond of him.”
"I only found out last night, and the person who told me had just heard it and didn’t know anything else about it," Ms Rogers told Independent.ie. "He’s such a genuine person, he never had a bad word to say about anybody."
“Of course, I send well wishes - I didn’t know if I should text his phone or not as I don’t know what to do in these situations, it can be quite difficult as I don’t want to disturb the family," Ms Rogers added.
"My thoughts are with him, he’s absolutely an Irish treasure and he’s been very kind to me. He’s a wonderful man."
Actor Joe Rooney, who worked alongside Mr Grace on television comedy Killinaskully, said: "He is a brilliant comedy actor - underused really.”
"He called me a couple of times. I was on the Marian Finucane Show years ago and I was playing clips that had inspired me. One of them was of him doing 'Bottler' which was released when I was a kid."
Brendan Grace began his career as a singer, but comedy took over and he became renowned for his wit and intelligence.
Mr Grace is based in America with his wife Eileen and their family, but regularly returns to Ireland for shows. Born in the Liberties, Mr Grace has been a famous face in the entertainment industry for 49 years.
Mr Grace also starred in Father Ted, a role that made him famous across the world. Recalling a tour in Australia, Mr Gillespie said: “He was hugely famous for that few minutes. We were walking down the street in Sydney one day, we were on tour and these three guys came over, young guys, and they kept looking at him. And then they got all excited, saying ‘that’s Fintan Stack’.”