Ireland lost two significant, well-respected figures this week — albeit voices from very different ends of the social milieu. Both men died after short illnesses.
The comedian Brendan Grace — who will be forever remembered as Bottler or Father Fintan Stack in Father Ted — died, aged 68, yesterday morning after he was diagnosed with lung cancer just 10 days ago. A Dubliner, by birth and profession, he lived in America for some years but had recently returned to Ireland.
He was, for a period, associated with the circle orbiting Charles Haughey’s Abbeville court.
Noel Whelan, the political analyst and barrister died, aged just 50, on Wednesday evening.
A former Irish Examiner columnist and Irish Times columnist, author and one-time advisor to Fianna Fáil, Mr Whelan was a voice for reason and social progress.
He was one of those rare advocates with a selfless, high civic purpose whose contributions did so much to turn aspiration into reality in a changing Ireland.
Brendan Grace made us laugh, Noel Whelan made us think, both offering vital contributions to their country.