On this day in 1998, the great Dermot Morgan died at the age of 45
Life & Style

On this day in 1998, the great Dermot Morgan died at the age of 45

ON THIS day in 1998, Ireland lost one of its greats: actor, comedian and writer Dermot Morgan.

Aged just 45, the Father Ted actor had just finished filming the very last episode of the Channel 4 hit sitcom when he passed away.

The day after filming wrapped, Morgan invited friends and family to his London home to celebrate with dinner and drinks when he began feeling unwell.

Speaking shortly after his death, his sister Denise described the moment a heart attack took her brother.

"He wasn't feeling great at the end of the meal and I went to the bedroom with him," she said.

"He had a heart attack and I didn't recognise it.

"From my limited training in first aid, I wasn't sure exactly what was happening. The symptoms didn't match what the books said. I said to him 'I think you're okay', and we went back to the table.

"He apologised for having left the room and the next thing he just collapsed. We tried to resuscitate him but it didn't work. He had a massive heart attack."

As the news spread across Ireland, the UK and beyond, many high-profile figures paid tribute to his talent, with President Mary McAleese calling him "a gifted entertainer and an exceptional talent".

She, along with her predecessor Mary Robinson and countless celebrities who Morgan had imitated or mocked light-heartedly during his career, attended his funeral in the following days.

Taoiseach at the time, Bertie Ahern, spoke to RTÉ News following the announcement of his death, and while he acknowledged he had been the butt of many of Morgan's jokes, he said it was "a bit of fun" and that he would miss his talent.

While Dermot Morgan was known and beloved to thousands for his depiction of the hapless Craggy Island priest, he had much more to give-- which was why he had decided to step back from the role  after season 3.

He was writing the screenplay for a film set in Ireland, and had completed it at the time of his death, but it was never made.

He had also been commissioned to write a drama series for the BBC, and was due to begin filming another sitcom in which he was the starring role, but all of these never came to fruition.

While his specialty was acting, satire and impressions, Morgan also had a brief musical career-- his comedy song 'Thank You Mr Eastwood', was a massive hit in Ireland, and was the Christmas Number 1 in 1985.

Morgan, who died just days before his 46th birthday, was post-humously honoured at the 1999 BAFTAs when he was awarded the title of Best Comedy Performer, and in his native Dublin where he was buried, a memorial entitled 'The Joker's Chair' was erected in his honour.


Morgan's Father Ted co-star, Frank Kelly, who played Fr Jack, passed away on the exact same date 18 years later, on February 28 2016.