Irish actor Frank Kelly, best known for playing foul-mouthed Father Jack Hackett on the Channel 4 show Father Ted which ran from 1995-1998, has died at the age of 77.
Kelly’s death comes 18 years to the day after the passing of his co-star Dermot Morgan who played the title role.
The actor had suffered from a number of illnesses and had a several health problems in the past few years. He was also diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease last year, when he was also treated for skin cancer. He was given the all-clear from bowel cancer in 2011.
Kelly starred in 25 episodes of the comedy show alongside Ardal O’Hanlon as Dougal McGuire, Pauline McLynn as Mrs Doyle and Morgan, who died of a heart attack just a day after filming the shows’ final episode.
His other acting credits included playing Dermot Macey, father to Declan, in Emmerdale as well as Justice Cannon in Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie. Writer and star of the film Brendan O’Carroll led the tributes to him on Twitter.
News of Frank Kelly's passing just reached us in Australia. Such a lovely man and a joy to work with. God bless him xx
— Brendan O'Carroll (@brendanMrsBrown) February 28, 2016
— Rob Morgan (@RobMorganDublin) February 28, 2016
Sad news about Frank Kelly. I know Father Ted was the thing everyone knew him for. I worked with him on The Deal and he was such a great guy
— David Morrissey (@davemorrissey64) February 28, 2016
— Pete Ruddy (@thepeteruddy) February 28, 2016
O’Hanlon also paid tribute to his co-star saying:
“Very sad news. We had lunch together at Christmas when he was in his usual feisty form. Frank was an all-round talent, an institution in Irish entertainment, a very determined professional and he’ll be greatly missed by all who knew him.”
Irish President Michael D Higgins said Kelly was:
“…a distinguished actor who made such a wide and valued contribution both on the stage and in film He will forever be remembered for his roles. To his wife Bairbre and his family I send deepest sympathy; for theirs is the greatest loss of such a great and loving person.”
Frank Kelly is survived by his wife of 51 years, Bairbre, their seven children and seventeen grand-children.