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ted and butter Father Ted star Joe Rooney still earning a good living from his one appearance as Fr Damo in hit show

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Joe has been busy working throughout the Covid lockdown.

Joe has been busy working throughout the Covid lockdown.

Joe has been busy working throughout the Covid lockdown.

It's nearly 26 years since Father Ted first hit our TV screens, but for Joe Rooney it's the sitcom that still earns him a good living…even in lockdown today.

The top Irish comic starred as wayward young priest Father Damo in just one episode of the cult TV show in the mid-1990s, yet his hilarious character made a lasting impression.

"Little did I know that all these years later Father Ted is still the biggest influence on my professional life," Joe tells the Sunday World.

"I was very busy around Christmas doing corporate stuff online. There was one day where I worked from 10 in the morning until 11 o'clock that night on different platforms.

"The advantage of working online is that I can do four or five gigs in a day because there's no travelling from one to the other.

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Joe as Fr Damo with Dougal in Father Ted

Joe as Fr Damo with Dougal in Father Ted

Joe as Fr Damo with Dougal in Father Ted

"Some of the gigs involved doing actual awards for companies. It was really weird. I'm reading out the nominations and they're all sitting at home because everyone is working from home.

"I do a Father Ted quiz with stand up. I've done gigs for Google and Linkedin performing for people who are all over the world.

"There was an Irish guy in Philadelphia who had a Father Ted themed birthday party and I did that. Father Damo does the most business for me, even though he was in was just one episode of Father Ted.

"He was a one off character that stood out; a young priest who wore an earring, smoked, stole and told his superiors 'you're not the boss of me.' People still come up to me and quote him, asking, 'Who do you prefer, Oasis or Blur?' I am Father Damo to most people and that's fine by me.

"I was six years in Killinaskully with Pat Shortt; I was in Red Rock on TV3 and I've done stand up all over the world, but it's still all about Father Damo. But he's a character that I really liked, so I don't mind being associated with him. You don't often get the chance to pick and choose the parts that you play. You could easily be known for something that you hate."

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Father Ted

Father Ted

Father Ted

Rooney suspects that Father Ted writers Arthur Mathews and Graham Linehan created the Father Damo character for him.

Back in the '80s, Rooney was the lead singer in "a New Order-type band" called Guernica, who released three singles.

"Graham Linehan interviewed the band for Hot Press, so I got to know him then," Joe says. "Then I was going over to England to do the odd gig and he said, 'Listen, if you're over in London you can stay with us.' They hadn't done Father Ted at this stage.

"I was staying with them and used to watch a lot of Seinfeld. They told me they were writing what turned out to be Father Ted. Later I had to watch it with them, and thank God it was really good. I was in the audience for one of the early episodes."

"I was asked specifically by Graham and Arthur to audition for Father Damo. I kind of think they may have had me in mind, but I know other people auditioned for that part as well.

"They were very good at casting roles. They did the same for a few comedians like Patrick McDonnell (Father Eoin McLove) and Michael Redmond (Father Stone). They maybe saw them doing stand up and kind of wrote with them in mind. I think they did that a few times. Father Ted really was amazing, so I was delighted to get a part in it."

Rooney says he is coping well with life in the pandemic. He used to suffer from anxiety, but now has it under control

"When the band broke up all those years ago it was probably a reaction to that," Joe says. "I was then working in a s**t job. I've learned how to deal with it. I used to get agitated going on stage, but I don't now. It's very weird that going on stage is a release from it. I guess it's performance and you kind of leave yourself a bit, so it's a release."

  • JOE Rooney and fellow comedians Ian Coppinger, Graeme Singleton and Danny Kehoe, aka satirical band Men2B, have released a lockdown love song and video called Be In My Bubble, which was co-written by his 22-year-old son Danny Rooney.

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