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Devout churchgoer Frank Kelly remembered for his deep faith

Stars from Father Ted were among hundreds of mourners who paid respect to the late Frank Kelly and heard how he had been a devout churchgoer during his funeral Mass at the Church of the Guardian Angels in Blackrock, Co Dublin.

The popular Irish actor, singer and writer, who was best known for his role as the foul-mouthed priest, Fr Jack Hackett, in the Father Ted comedy series, died on Sunday 28th February at the age of 77.

Despite his foul-mouthed, drunken character in the Channel 4 sitcom, which followed the lives of the trio of hapless clergymen, Kelly was a devout, practising Catholic. An obituary, posted in the Irish Independent, revealed, ‘local lore has it that he was once persuaded to become a Minister of the Eucharist, handing out Communion at Mass, but rather quickly it was evident that this was causing much merriment among younger viewers of Father Ted, who flocked to ‘Fr Jack’ for communion, ignoring the priests and other ministers.’

It added that Kelly decided to return to his usual seat at 10:45am Sunday Mass, where he always sat in the 10th row.

During the service, chief celebrant, Fr Bill Fortune, spoke of Kelly’s deep faith and pointed to the seat he took “Sunday after Sunday”, explaining that it was “probably contoured to his person”.

Fr Fortune said that Kelly was “many things. He was a son, sibling, friend, husband, father, grandfather, actor, writer, musician, parishioner but however long the list you make, you cannot encapsulate him. He was much, much more than that. He was not the chance result of some evolutionary freak. He was created by God. Every life, every human life, is created by God.”

His son, Emmet Kelly recalled the day prior to his father’s death, when Kelly had said he would like to go for a walk and his wife assumed he meant a short walk to the shops. “But no,” Emmet said during a eulogy, “when he said he wanted to go for a walk, he meant the Camino way. He planned to walk 497 miles over 30 days.”

He also spoke of his father’s “healthy disrespect for authority” and said it was “pretty cool” that Fr Jack was trending on Twitter, ahead of Donald Trump and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Meanwhile another of Kelly’s sons, Stephen, explained how his father had no “notions or delusions of grandeur” and struggled with technology, which often saw him dialling 999 on his mobile phone, thinking he was entering his PIN number.
Those who attended the service included his Father Ted co-star Ardal O’Hanlon, who played the dense Fr Dougal McGuire and Father Ted writers Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews.

Frank Kelly is survived by his wife Bairbre, seven children and 17 grandchildren.