'Rest peacefully Bottler, you've earned it': Tributes after comedian Brendan Grace dies aged 68

'Rest peacefully Bottler, you've earned it': Tributes after comedian Brendan Grace dies aged 68

Tributes have been paid to comedian and singer Brendan Grace, who has died aged 68 after a short illness.

He died at 12.26am on Thursday, surrounded by his family, after being diagnosed with lung cancer 10 days ago, his manager confirmed.

He is survived by his wife, Eileen, and their four children.

The Fr Ted actor, who also starred in 2013 TV film Brendan Grace's Bottler, 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.

Grace dressed as his famous comedy character, Bottler. Picture: Graham Hughes/RollingNews.ie
Grace dressed as his famous comedy character, Bottler. Picture: Graham Hughes/RollingNews.ie

Grace's daughter, Melanie Gillespie, shared precious memories of her beloved father today on Liveline on RTÉ Radio 1.

"It was extraordinary being his daughter. He had the kindest, kindest heart. He had heart enough both for his family and a nation and we're just so proud of that. We were happy to share him," she said.

Offstage, although he absolutely made us laugh often, he was a different person and I loved that we got that person. Everyone else got the entertainer, we got a more vulnerable version of that.

"It was the comfort my Mam gave him that made his passing so gentle. He promised that he would never leave us and we believe that to be true," she said.

Tom Kelly, Grace's manager for 27 years, speaking on Virgin Media One's Ireland AM programme on Thursday morning, said the entertainer's death is a great loss to Ireland.

"Although he was aware of the outcome himself in the last few days when the cancer was diagnosed, it's a great shock to everybody," he said.

"He was very weak, he didn't wish to have chemo or anything like that, and the inevitable happened.

"He was one of the greats in modern entertaining, it's a huge loss."

Comedian Brendan O'Carroll, writer and star of Mrs Brown's Boys, led the tributes, saying: "So sad at the passing of a great comedy legend, husband and father Brendan Grace.

"He opened doors for so many of us and leaves a legacy of love and laughter that will echo through this land and we will all mourn his passing. Rest peacefully Bottler, you've earned it."

"He never failed to make me laugh," O'Carroll said on The Ryan Tubridy Show on RTÉ Radio 1 this morning.

"He had a niche within comedy in Ireland...there's nobody there to fill that," he said.

Grace was remembered by O'Carroll as "an amazing all-rounder and a very very generous man with his time, and with his advice".

Thousands of messages have been posted by fans across social media recalling fond memories of watching Grace with their families, calling him a "legend of Irish comedy".

Father Ted co-creator Graham Linehan said he was sad to hear of Mr Grace's passing.

"He was a big star in Ireland when he appeared in Ted but you’d never have guessed it from working with him as he was always professional, courteous and patient with us," he tweeted.

President Michael D Higgins said he "learned with great sadness" of the comedian's death.

"As a comedian Brendan's spontaneous wit and his sense of timing, his obvious delighting in interaction with his audiences, meant that Brendan's sense of humour was drawing from, and itself a profound contribution to, the deep wellspring of Irish wit.

His best-loved characters will endure, precisely because they are both recognisable and representative of the experiences lived and recalled by Irish people of all ages.

He said it was "a privilege to know him" adding "as President of Ireland, I express my deepest condolences to his wife Eileen, his children Bradley, Melanie, Brendan and Amanda, and to his wider family and his friends, and all who valued his acuity and sharp sense of humour."

The Taoiseach has also paid tribute, stating that Mr Grace was an Irish comedy legend.

"You made us laugh so many times, from Bottler to Father Ted and so many others. One of the greats. Our thoughts are with Brendan’s friends and family."

Dara O'Briain wrote that Mr Grace was "a genuine comedy legend in Ireland, when we were growing up he was the king of the entertainers.

"Sorry I never met him, but relieved I never had to follow him."

Comedian PJ Gallagher paid tribute, referencing Mr Grace's famous line from his Fr Ted character, Fr Fintan Stack.

"He’s had his fun and that’s all that matters.

"What a brilliant man."

RTÉ will screen a special Brendan Grace documentary tonight as a tribute to Grace.

'Funny Man', which looked back over the comedian's 50-year career, was first aired in October last year and will be repeated at 10.15pm on RTÉ 1.

Brian Reddin, who directed the documentary, said he was filming with Grace just last week.

"He asked me to go down last week and film him in the hospital bed," Mr Reddin said on Today with Sean O'Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1 this morning.

It wasn't easy... we filmed with him and he gave us his last ever interview and it was very emotional, it was very heartfelt, honest and poignant... we've all those last moments on tape.

Mr Reddin said he believed that Grace knew the end was near, and wanted for the film to be part of his legacy.

"If you don't do it, I'll f*cking haunt ya," Grace told the director about getting the documentary to broadcast, saying that it has all the support of Grace's family and will be ready for September, including footage from his upcoming funeral.

- Digital Desk & Press Association

Earlier: Comedian Brendan Grace dies aged 68

'Rest peacefully Bottler, you've earned it': Tributes after comedian Brendan Grace dies aged 68

The comedian and singer Brendan Grace has passed away aged 68.

He passed away after a short illness having recently been diagnosed with lung cancer.

His manager Tom Kelly stated: "Brendan Grace passed away peacefully early this morning at surrounded by his loving family."

He added that Mr grace will "be fondly remembered by his legion of fans at home and abroad."

An Irish showbiz veteran, Mr Grace enjoyed a lengthy career spanning over 50 years taking in music, stand-up comedy and acting.

Born in Dublin he started his career in a showband but later became better known as a standup comedian.

Grace has sold out at venues across the world, and was particularly popular in the UK and US where he lived.

In 1995, he starred in the Irish film Moondance, but his best-known roles were his comedy character Bottler and Father Fintan Stack in Fr Ted.

Last week, Mr Grace's son-in-law - Frank Gillespie - called Liveline to tell Joe Duffy that Brendan wanted to thank all of his fans for all their well wishes since the news broke that the comedian was receiving treatment for lung cancer.

He is survived by his wife Eileen and their four children.

Paul McAuliffe, Lord Mayor of Dublin, confirmed that a Book of Condolence will be opened for the people of Dublin to pay their respects to their native son.

The Mansion House will be open to the public to sign the Book of Condolences on Thursday between midday and 5pm and on Friday from 10am to 5pm.

RTÉ have confirmed that they will screen the documentary 'Brendan Grace – Funny Man' in tribute to the comedian.

The documentary was originally shown in October 2018, to mark Mr Grace’s 50 years in the entertainment business. It will be shown at 10.15pm on RTÉ One.

Commenting, RTÉ Director-General Dee Forbes said: "We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Brendan Grace. Brendan was one of Ireland’s original funny men, and one of Irish comedy’s true pioneers."

She added that he will be deeply missed.

"My thoughts and those of his many friends and fans across RTÉ are with his family and friends at this sad time."

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