Wednesday 17 January 2018

'St Peter will be told to feck off when Frank Kelly arrives', funeral is told

Frank Kelly
Frank Kelly
Pictured at the funeral of the late Frank Kelly are his widow, Bairbre, being comforted by friends and family (PA)
Ardal O'Hanlon – who played Dougal in the much-loved Father Ted – with one of the show's creators, Graham Linehan (Collins)
Frank Kelly's remains are taken from the church in Blackrock (PA)
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

If heaven permits Fr Jack through the duty free of the pearly gates, it will be the first time anyone ever told St Peter to "feck off", Frank Kelly's son Emmet told mourners at his funeral.

Laughter was the perfect tribute to the iconic actor, who had entertained generations of people.

Best known for his portrayal of Fr Jack Hackett in Father Ted, Frank (77) passed away suddenly of a heart attack on Sunday, having battled ill-health for over eight years.

Emmet Kelly said he thought it was "cool" that his father was trending on Twitter after his death - ahead of Donald Trump and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Frank is survived by his beloved wife of over 51 years, Bairbre Neldon, their children Aideen, Fiona, Jayne, Ruth, Emmet, Stephen and Rachel - and their 17 grandchildren, his brothers Aidan and David, and sister Pauline.

President Michael D Higgins attended the funeral, and his wife Sabina warmly embraced Bairbre as she arrived at the service at the Church of the Guardian Angels in Blackrock, Co Dublin.

Mourners included Father Ted writers Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews, Ardal O'Hanlon and two of Dermot Morgan's sons, Don and Rob.

Game of Thrones actor Barry McGovern, Riverdance's John McColgan and comedian Noel V Ginnity were also present.

Frank and Bairbre first met at the Gaiety Theatre while appearing in a Brecht play in 1961, and they got married three years later.

Gifts brought to the altar symbolising his life included a picture of the Forty Foot, where he loved to swim; a picture of the family pet, Lucky, who was "missing him already"; the crossword he loved to do every day; and his recently published autobiography, The Next Gig.

Chief celebrant Fr Bill Fortune said Frank had a very active, creative and worthwhile life, describing him as having what Napoleon called "two o'clock in the morning courage".

He said he often thought Frank had a lot in common with classic comedy writer PG Wodehouse - with both bringing "real joy, humour and laughter to literally millions of people".

In a tribute to his father, Emmet Kelly said his dad had trained as a barrister, but used to say: "I'd rather star on the stage than grow fat at the bar."

'Frank Kelly has died but neither he nor Father Jack will ever leave us' - Pat Stacey 

Frank's son Stephen said his father had "no delusions of grandeur and loved real people and reality". He also loved mischief and adventure, and would "shout wild abuse at you down the street to see if he could embarrass you".

As befitting one of Ireland's greatest-ever entertainers, resounding applause rang out for one last time as his remains left the church for a private cremation.

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