Irish roots | 

Paul O’Grady’s love of a turf fire and his plans to move to Ireland

Mr O'Grady's father’s family, the Gradys, hail from Galway and Roscommon.

Paul O'Grady and with one of his canine friends. Photo: Channel Four


Paul O'Grady often spoke about his love of Ireland and even considered making the move across the water at points throughout his life.

The TV star, also known for his drag queen persona Lily Savage, died "unexpectedly but peacefully" on Tuesday evening at the age of 67, a statement said.

In recent years, he was best known for his award-winning TV show, Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs.

Mr O'Grady's father’s family, the Gradys, hail from Galway and Roscommon.

Paddy Grady grew up in Ballincurry, Co Roscommon, before moving to England in 1936.

Born in 1955, Paul grew up in the Irish community in Birkenhead, Liverpool, with visits back to Ireland twice a year.

The 'O' was added to his surname due to a clerical error when his father emigrated to England and joined the RAF, and decided to keep the extra letter.

Speaking to Ryan Tubridy on RTÉ Radio 1 in 2015, he said: "I don't think he could be bothered changing it.

"He actually came over to England because he couldn't do the work on the farm.

“It was only when he got to England, and they discovered that he had TB and that's why. He was a true Irishman, my father. Through and through."

His mother was Mary ‘Molly’ Savage, whose parents were originally from Co Louth - her second name is believed to have inspired his famous drag alter ego.

Mr O’Grady also revealed that he had turf sent over to his home in England over the years.

"I have pallets of turf! I love the smell of it – I sit there, and I just smell [it]. And that to me is the smell of Ireland: a turf fire with a frying pan with rashers going on and a bit of black pudding,” he told the programme.

O'Grady also spent time filming in Kilmainham Gaol for his performance in Jim Sheridan's In the Name of the Father.

"I remember me dad when we were kids, he used to say, 'We're related to Irish royalty'. We all just used to laugh at him. He'd say, 'King Atholl of Glinsk' – and there's actually a Glinsk Castle,” he said.

"I'm thinking now, 'I wonder is there any truth in it?' I quite fancy being Irish royalty. I know with my luck I'll be in the kitchens scrubbing the floors! A scullery maid I'd be – doing the pots.”

Speaking in 2022, the father-of-one said he often considered relocating to Ireland.

“I’ve lots of family in Ireland – mainly from Roscommon and a couple in Dublin. I’ve such a good time over there,” he said.

Mr O’Grady lived in a farmhouse in Kent with his husband Andre Portasio and the couple’s beloved animals.

“We were considering buying my grandad’s house in Roscommon. It was a lovely cut-stone farmhouse, but they were using it for cattle storage,” he said.

“It didn’t have a roof, and everything had fallen to bits. I also thought when would I go there, and what would I do?

“I did consider moving to Dublin at one stage. I was looking at property in Drumcondra ... but listen, I can go anywhere. People laugh at me because I’ll visit somewhere new and say, ‘I could live here!’. I get fond of a hotel room.”

During his career, he also hosted The Paul O'Grady Show, Blind Date and Blankety Blank.

He also hosted ITV celebrity game show, Paul O'Grady's Saturday Night Line Up.

In August of 2022 he presented his final BBC Radio 2 show having hosted the Sunday afternoon programme for nearly 14 years.

He had been set to return to the airwaves next month to host a one-off Easter Sunday radio show on Boom Radio.

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