| 22.3°C Dublin

Father Ted gets a fitting tribute

Close

Dermot Morgan as Fr Trendy on 'The Live Mike'

Dermot Morgan as Fr Trendy on 'The Live Mike'

Dermot Morgan's son Bobby helps push the Father Ted milkfloat
as it arrives in Galway's Eyre Square yesterday at the end of a
900-mile tour of the country in aid of Down Syndrome Ireland

Dermot Morgan's son Bobby helps push the Father Ted milkfloat as it arrives in Galway's Eyre Square yesterday at the end of a 900-mile tour of the country in aid of Down Syndrome Ireland

The late Frank Kelly with his Fr Ted Costars Dermot Morgan  Ardal O'Hanlon and Pauline McLynn

The late Frank Kelly with his Fr Ted Costars Dermot Morgan Ardal O'Hanlon and Pauline McLynn

/

Dermot Morgan as Fr Trendy on 'The Live Mike'

Ten years dead? That's mad, Ted. He doesn't look a bit of it in the never-ending reruns of the Craggy Island PP on a TV screen near you.

But February 28, 1998, was the day the laughter died (albeit temporarily) for 'Father Ted' fans. A heart attack suffered at his home in Richmond, Surrey, robbed the entertainment world of the comic genius of Dermot Morgan. He was three days short of his 46th birthday.

Yesterday, a foundation in his name was launched to provide bursaries for emerging comedy writers. Appropriately, it was announced on the back of a milk-float -- central to an unforgettable 'Father Ted' episode 'Speed 3' -- at Eyre Square in Galway.

This weekend's Tedfest 11 has already drawn hundreds of his followers to the island of Inis Mor, off the west Galway coast.

Neighbouring Inisheer jealously guards its Craggy Island reputation as the original of the species.

Meanwhile, the Rag Week season in third-level colleges around the country has yet again been featuring the inevitable 'Father Ted' quiz. The name of Fr Dougal's hamster (Ronaldo) won a team at the DIT version a prize of 25 pints of beer earlier this week.

As a mapcap UCD student in the early 1970s, Dermot Morgan would have heartily approved of their reward.

In 1974, he had tried his hand at teaching but left after two years to pursue comedy. In 1979, he got his big break from Mike Murphy as a hurley-wielding GAA fanatic on 'The Live Mike'. His alter-ego of Fr Trendy was soon born and he appeared as the religiously hip young curate for the next four years.

His career slumped in the mid-1980s, but in 1986 he recorded a surprise Christmas number one hit with 'Thank you very much, Mr Eastwood', parodying boxer Barry McGuigan and manager Barney Eastwood.

Three years later he set up his own company, Cue Productions, which produced 'Scrap Saturday' for RTE Radio.

But in 1991 the show was suddenly cancelled by RTE and Dermot Morgan was both angry and frustrated at the decision.

In 1995, 'Father Ted' was born and the show shot him to the top of his profession. He had just completed his third season of the show when he died. He was honoured with a posthumous award at the BAFTAs in 1999.

The first fundraising event for the Dermot Morgan Bursary, An Evening Without Dermot Morgan, will be held at the Button Factory in Dublin on June 9.