Thursday 24 October 2019

Brendan Grace's widow Eileen undecided about releasing TV interview he made days before he died

Brendan Grace and his wife Eileen. Picture:Arthur Carron/Collins
Brendan Grace and his wife Eileen. Picture:Arthur Carron/Collins
Brendan Grace as Bottler. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
The remains of Brendan Grace are carried to church, followed by his family, including his wife Eileen and daughters and grand children. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Brendan Grace and his wife
Brendan Grace. Pic Collins Photos
Iconic role: Brendan Grace appeared as Fr Fintan Stack in season two of 'Father Ted'
The late Brendan Grace
Eddie Rowley

Eddie Rowley

THE grieving wife of Brendan Grace says she still hasn’t decided if she’ll allow the Irish comic legend’s death bed interview to be screened in a new TV documentary.

RTE will shortly broadcast three new one-hour programmes, Brendan Grace: Thanks For The Memories, which were being recorded when his cancer was diagnosed.

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Brendan insisted on completing the documentary that focused on his work with charity choir the Forget Me Nots.

The showbiz icon wanted to raise awareness of the Alzheimer’s charity, Engaging Dementia, and was organising a show with them in the Olympia – which is now set to go ahead this Tuesday night in his honour.

Brendan also offered to do an interview for the documentary just two days before he died at the Galway Clinic, in which he said his final goodbye and sang Thanks For The Memories.

“Oh my God, I couldn’t believe it,” Eileen yesterday told the Sunday World.

But Eileen revealed that she still hasn’t decided if those private moments should be in the documentary.

“I’m betwixt and between whether it should or shouldn’t be in it,” she said. “I don’t know how people will respond to it because it’s extremely sad. It’s going to be a hard call.

Brendan Grace and his wife
Brendan Grace and his wife

“I know Brendan definitely wanted it in it. He was unbelievable, but on the other hand he didn’t want anyone to see him in the casket, yet he wanted us to be in snots of tears looking at him in his hospital bed singing Thanks For The Memories on camera. If you can make sense of that you’re better than I am. Oh sweet Jesus, isn’t that gas.

“We haven’t seen any of the documentary yet because it’s still in the editing process. Producer and director Brian Reddin is doing it, and Tuesday night’s show will be a part of it.”

Eileen said she is still struggling to cope with the loss of her beloved husband, Brendan, who died from lung cancer in July at the age of 68.

“I’ve been keeping myself busy, but I’m very emotional at the moment. I have to keep myself in the right company and just take it easy. That’s what I’m trying to do,take it easy. It’s a step at a time,” Eileen said.

“I called up to see the Forget Me Nots in Baldoyle last Tuesday, just to wish them all good luck and to break the ice, because I didn’t want them worrying about me (at the concert) next Tuesday. But I found it extremely difficult listening to them singing the Dublin songs and The Dutchman (that Brendan sang).

“Listening to music in general just breaks my heart now. Brendan and myself always used to listen to Ronan Collins, but now I can’t listen to Ronan’s show if I’m out driving because I just fall apart. The music has our whole life in it.”

The late Brendan Grace
The late Brendan Grace

This week, Eileen was at Dublin’s Lighthouse Cinema to see new Irish movie, Tradition, in which Brendan stars as a priest.

Directed by Damien O’Callaghan it’s the story of a GAA ref who ends up in court after it was discovered he had bet on the outcome of a match in which he made a controversial decision.

Grace gives a character reference for the referee in court, and the director O’Callaghan says Brendan “stole the show talking to the judge.”

Damien said: “It was a joy putting Brendan into the dock of a real court in Killarney. He had the crew and everybody present in stitches. We had no doubt we were seeing a genius at work.”

The movie, which was named this year as Best Film at the Wexford Film Festival, had its Irish premiere last year at the Kerry Film Festival, which Eileen attended with Brendan.

“I felt I needed to be at the screening of the movie this week for Damien, as well as for Brendan, because Damien has put blood, sweat and tears into it.

“Because I had seen it last year with Brendan in Killarney it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be as I knew what to expect, I knew when he would be coming.

“Brendan makes a great impact in it and you know he never really believed in himself as an actor at all. He used to think, ‘I can’t do this.’ And I used to say to him, ‘Look at the person that gets up on that stage every night, that is not the Brendan Grace I know, so you are permanently acting.’

“Brendan never like to be scripted, I suppose that was the difference, he didn’t like to have to stick to a script. That was the difficult part for him.”

  • The Brendan Grace tribute concert at the Olympia Theatre this Tuesday in aid of Engaging Dementia, features an all-star bill that includes Dickie Rock, Red Hurley, Twink, Sandy Kelly, Sharon Shannon, Foster & Allen, Mike Denver, Stockton’s Wing, Donal Lunny, the Forget Me Nots choir and many more. Tickets now on sale.

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