Mourners bid farewell to Fr Ted’s Frank Kelly

Frank Kelly
Frank Kelly

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina warmly greeted the family of iconic actor Frank Kelly at his funeral today.

The star best known for playing Father Jack in the hit series Father Ted passed away unexpectedly after a long illness at the age of 77.

He had battled Parkinson's disease, cancer and heart failure before finally succumbing to a heart attack.

His beloved wife of 51 years, Bairbre, children Aideen, Fíona, Jayne, Ruth, Emmet, Stephen and Rachel and 17 grandchildren, his brothers Aidan and David, sister Pauline led mourners at the funeral.

They included Father Ted writers Graham Lenihan and Arthur Matthews, Ardal O'Hanlon and two of Dermot Morgan's sons, Don and Rob.

Frank and Bairbre first met at the Gaiety Theatre while appearing in a Brecht play and married three years later in 1964.

Gifts brought to the alter symbolising his life included a picture of the 40 Foot where he loved to swim, a picture of the family pet, Lucky who was "missing him already," the crossword he loved to do every day and his recently published autobiography "The Next Gig".

Chief celebrant Fr Bill Fortune said he had a very active, creative and worthwhile life and described him as having what Napoleon called "two o'clock in the morning courage".

He said he often thought Frank had a lot in common with classic comedy writer PG Wodehouse - with both bringing "real joy, humour and laughter to literally millions of people."

And he said he had great regard and respect for his fellow professionals.

As well as his memorable role in Father Ted, Kelly played councillor Parnell Mooney in Hall's Pictorial Weekly -  which won him a Jacob's Award in 1974.

He also appeared in Glenroe between 1999 and 2001 and later spent five months on the cast of ITV soap Emmerdale.

 In 2014 he appeared as the judge in Mrs. Brown's Boys D'Movie.