Wednesday 21 August 2019

'He's battling away' - family says comedian Brendan Grace thanks fans after cancer diagnosis

"The amount of cards, phone calls, people enquiring - we're just inundated with everything. Brendan is battling away and he just wanted to let his fans know he loves them all out there."

Brendan Grace
Brendan Grace

Niamh Lynch

Brendan Grace’s family has thanked his fans for the outpouring of support following the news of the comedian’s lung cancer diagnosis.

Mr Grace’s son-in-law, Frank Gillespie, spoke to RTE Radio One’s Liveline show this afternoon expressing the family’s gratitude.

"The amount of cards, phone calls, people enquiring - we're just inundated with everything. Brendan is battling away and he just wanted to let his fans know he loves them all out there, he knows everything that's going on and he's received all the wishes,” Mr Gillespie said.

"From every part of the world, people are calling us and sending us wishes so we just wanted to get back and say a big thank you to everybody.

“He's battling away - we're fighting to get out there again, to do his gigs and to keep going. We're thinking, this is just a little set back and we'll keep everybody informed.

“We want to thank all of the doctors and nurses and everybody that’s taking care of Brendan. He’s been well minded, especially by his wife Eileen.

READ MORE: Irish comedian Brendan Grace (68) cancels Irish tour following cancer diagnosis

“We’re all around him, he still has the humour and he’s making us laugh. We’ll have to get him up out of that bed and get out there again. We’re thanking everybody for the well wishes,” Mr Gillespie added.

Members of the public also expressed their admiration for Mr Grace. One caller said that Mr Grace was “a great entertainer, without a doubt, he’d cheer you up”. Presenter Joe Duffy also remarked: “If our text line and Twitter feed is anything to go by, the country is ablaze with candles for Bren. The country is totally behind him.”

The Dublin comedian (68) had been in hospital receiving treatment for pneumonia when he learned of the diagnosis, according to a spokesperson. He has been in hospital for the last month.

His Irish tour due to take place over the next two months has been cancelled.

"Brendan Grace has been in hospital for the last four weeks receiving treatment for pneumonia," the spokesperson told independent.ie. "It has now transpired that he is also suffering from cancer for which he is receiving ongoing care and treatment. His family are a great support to him at this difficult time and respect for their privacy would be much appreciated."

Celebrity friends also spoke of their shock at the news.

Paying tribute to her good friend, Twink said; "We've worked together, we've got twisted together, we've laughed so much.

"I love his devoted wife, she's equally a lifelong friend of mine.

"I love Brendan's talent, I love Brendan. I'm sending strength and love and good wishes, as is the whole country."

Actress June Rogers said: "I was so shocked when I found out, he’s such a lovely man. I’m so fond of him.”

"I only found out last night, and the person who told me had just heard it and didn’t know anything else about it," Ms Rogers told independent.ie. "He’s such a genuine person, he never had a bad word to say about anybody."

“Of course, I send well wishes - I didn’t know if I should text his phone or not as I don’t know what to do in these situations, it can be quite difficult as I don’t want to disturb the family," Ms Rogers added.

"My thoughts are with him, he’s absolutely an Irish treasure and he’s been very kind to me. He’s a wonderful man."

Actor Joe Rooney, who worked alongside Mr Grace on television comedy 'Killinaskully', said: "He is a brilliant comedy actor - underused really.”

"He called me a couple of times. I was on the 'Marian Finucane Show' years ago and I was playing clips that had inspired me. One of them was of him doing 'Bottler' which was released when I was a kid."

Mr Grace is based in America with his wife Eileen and their family, but regularly returns to Ireland for shows. Born in the Liberties, Mr Grace has been a famous face in the entertainment industry for 49 years.

Mr Grace also starred in Father Ted, a role that made him famous across the world. Recalling a tour in Australia, Mr Gillespie said: “He was hugely famous for that few minutes. We were walking down the street in Sydney one day, we were on tour and these three guys came over, young guys, and they kept looking at him. And then they got all excited, saying ‘that’s Fintan Stack’.”

Mr Grace previously suffered a stroke and had been diagnosed with diabetes in the last couple of years.

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