Tributes paid to Comedian Brendan Grace
Tributes have been paid to the comedian, entertainer and musician Brendan Grace, who has died.
Mr Grace, a native of Dublin’s Liberties, died in hospital overnight. He had been undergoing treatment for pneumonia for the last month, and it had transpired that he was also suffering from lung cancer.
President Michael D Higgins led the tributes to Mr Grace, saying: “Brendan’s spontaneous wit and his sense of timing, his obvious delight in interaction with his audiences, meant that Brendan’s sense of humour was drawing from, and itself a profound contribution to, the deep wellspring of Irish wit.”
President Higgins extended his condolences to Grace’s wife, Eileen, his four children and his wider family and friends.
Comedian and actress June Rodgers also paid tribute to her friend on Thursday morning. Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, she said Grace was “a wonderful family man” and a talented performer whose singing voice and comedic gifts made him “an all rounder”. “He was so good. He always had a smile on his face, even though he wasn’t in the best of health… he would never show it, he would just get on with life”.
Broadcaster and musician Aonghus McAnally told the programme that Grace was “an innately funny man”.
“He could stand there and do nothing and you would be just convulsed with laughter.”
McAnally said that Grace would be remembered for bringing joy and happiness all his life.
Noel McHale, a booker with MCD Productions, said he had worked with Mr Grace since 1976, when he first booked him in Galway on behalf of entertainment figure Bill Fuller.
“He was a really funny guy, but always a decent guy. He was always checking if his crew had been fed. He was always very supportive of the local support acts, saying that the support of today were the stars of tomorrow.”
Mr McHale said that the comedy of Grace had paved the way for high profile Irish comics who have come to international prominence such as Dara O Briain, Dylan Moran and Tommy Tiernan. “He showed that you could make a career out of being a comedian, it wasn’t a part time job. It would have encouraged other comedians.
“He was really funny, I have memories of packed rooms, people falling around laughing. He was Ireland’s first alternative comedian.”
He said that Grace’s on stage presence was undiminished by recent ill health, which had forced him to perform while seated. “He still just captivated the audience; he had them in the palm of his hand.”
RTÉ’s director general Dee Forbes said Grace had emerged as a talent “during an era when there were very few established Irish comedians”.
Through his live shows, his live recordings, The Brendan Grace Show and many memorable guest appearances on RTÉ’s The Late Late Show, Brendan established himself in the hearts of generations of fans, not just in Ireland, but all over the world.”