Fr Ted star Frank Kelly passes away
ACTOR Frank Kelly, who played Fr Jack in the hit series Father Ted, has passed away at the age of 77.
The news comes on the 18th anniversary of the death of his Father Ted co-star Dermot Morgan, who passed away in 1998.
The veteran of stage and screen was also well-known for his parts on Emmerdale and Halls Pictorial Weekly, but his iconic role in the sitcom in the mid 90s brought him to a huge audience.
The cause of his death has not yet been confirmed.
Just hearing from various sources that Frank Kelly has passed away. Terribly sad news. Thanks for everything, Frank.— Graham Linehan (@Glinner) February 28, 2016
In 2015, The 77-year-old actor revealed that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, a degenerative condition affecting the nervous system.
The diagnosis came after he was hospitalised earlier in the year with heart failure.
Speaking of his condition at the time Kelly said: “It was my first diagnosis but I’m quietly confident that I have had this for years and years.
"I'm not going to let Parkinson's beat me. I'm just not that kind of person.”
He vowed to continue working and late last year released his memoir ‘The Next Gig' which he said captured memories of his career he feared might be lost.
"Memories can fade with the years so I thought it would be a good idea to get them down now," he said speaking of the book.
Kelly was previously diagnosed with bowel cancer, but received the all clear in 2011 after a five year battle with the disease.
Tributes have been paid to the actor in the wake of his sad passing.
Father Ted writer Graham Linehan said it was a honour to work with the actor throughout the duration of the series.
"Terribly sad news. Thanks for everything, Frank," he tweeted.
Rob Morgan, the son of Father Ted star Dermot Morgan tweeted: "Thoughts and condolences to Frank Kelly's family and friends on their loss. A sad day. I hope they find comfort in the joy he brought others."
In a statement issued this afternoon Noel Curran, Director General, RTÉ, has paid tribute to Frank Kelly.
"Frank Kelly was an Irish television institution whose career spanned decades and, in later years, countries. He was a versatile writer, satirist, performer and actor, and became a household name to loyal audiences of classics such as Wanderly Wagon, Halls Pictorial Weekly, and Glenroe. And of course, he achieved iconic status to for audiences around the world as Fr Jack in Channel 4 sitcom, Father Ted.
"I would like to extend my sincere sympathies on behalf of RTÉ to his wife Bairbre, his seven children and 17 grandchildren."
The actor, who also enjoyed a fruitful career on stage, most recently in John B Keane's Moll in The Gaiety Theatre in 2014, revealed that his time on the Father Ted set was one of the happiest times of his life.
"It just makes me happy to see it on TV every Christmas. There was a great happy atmosphere on the set, among the actors and cast, and the show is like a photograph of that," he said.
He is survived by his wife of 51 years Bairbre, his seven children and 17 grandchildren.