Tribute to Frank Kelly (Father Ted)

Best known for his role as the foul-mouthed priest Father Jack in the sitcom Father Ted, Actor Frank Kelly has died aged 77. Kelly, who survived bowel cancer in 2011 and underwent treatment for skin cancer in 2014, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease last year.

The Irish actor had a celebrated career on stage and on television. He spent years working as a subeditor at Irish newspapers before his first acting role, in The Italian Job in 1969, escorting Michael Caine’s character out of prison. Kelly also had ongoing roles in the Irish TV drama Glenroe between 1999 and 2001 and in Emmerdale in 2010. However, it was his comic turn in the Channel 4 sitcom as the swearing alcoholic priest Father Jack, whose vocabulary was mainly limited to “Drink! Feck! Arse!”, that was his most beloved role.

Kelly had vowed he would not let his diagnosis of Parkinson’s interfere with his acting. “I’ve been working as an actor for over 50 years and a shaky hand won’t stop me. I remain open to offers for work on stage and screen. He continued to act in films right up to 2014 when he played Justice Cannon in Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie. Kelly passed away exactly 18 years after the death of his Father Ted co-star Dermot Morgan, who died on 28 February 1998. Kelly is survived by his wife of 51 years, Bairbre, seven children and 17 grandchildren.

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