In 1998, TV viewers were braced to say goodbye to the episcopal escapades of the craggy island gang as Father Ted’s final episode wrapped after 3 seasons.
Tragically, on the night of the series wrap party, Dermot Morgan suffered a cardiac failure and passed away, aged just 45.
The cruel poetry of his dying on the same evening as the swansong of a TV icon bearing his face perhaps still overshadows what he was about as performer, and the kind of artist he truly was.
Before Father Ted, Dermot Morgan was known and celebrated as one of Ireland’s most quickwitted and acerbic stand-up comedians. He became one of our foremost political satirists in the early 70s sketch show “Scrap Saturday”.
With his wry and sideways takes on life in an Ireland that was still very much stifled under the all-imposing dullness of the catholic hegemony, Dermot’s cigarette-soaked, acidic cynicism still flares out across time with a righteous zeal that shines true in his performances to this day.
In the late 1970s, at the height of the Church’s power, he concocted a charicature of “groovy with God” preachers such as Michael Cleary in a series of TV sketches as “Father Trendy” on “The Live Mike”
It was this character that later developed into the Father Ted we all know today.
Ted was as much a vehicle for the angst and frustration Morgan had always thrown against society in his own work, as it was a product of the show’s creators.
A corrupt, vain, pompous hypocrite, played with the total and complete conviction of one of our greatest ever observers.
A man who embodied the punk spirit of an Ireland awakening from it’s darkest spiritual depths.
We salute Dermot Morgan on his anniversary. RIP.