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Sunday, March 1, 1998 Published at 16:36 GMT


Tributes paid to 'comedic meteor'
image: [ Politicians, actors, writers and broadacsters have all paid tribute to Morgan's talents ]
Politicians, actors, writers and broadacsters have all paid tribute to Morgan's talents

Politicians, actors and even priests have paid tribute to the actor, Dermot Morgan, the star of the Father Ted comedy show who has died at the age of 45.

[ image: Bertie Ahern:
Bertie Ahern: "shocked"
The Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, described Mr Morgan as one of the greatest entertainers his country had ever produced.

"I was shocked and saddened to hear of the untimely death of Dermot Morgan," he said.

"He was one of the greatest entertainers ever produced by this country. He won millions of friends with his comic genius and sense of fun."

[ image:  McAleese: loss of an
McAleese: loss of an "exceptional talent"
The Irish President Mary McAleese described Mr Morgan as a gifted entertainer and said she was sorry to hear of his untimely death.

"Through his death, Ireland and the world of entertainment have lost an exceptional talent," she said.

Even the targets of the actor's barbed wit were generous with their praise.

"I am deeply saddened to hear of Dermot's sudden tragic death," said the former Irish Prime Minister Charles Haughey.

"He will be missed as a talented, innovative professional, who brought great pleasure and enjoyment to hundreds of thousands of people."

Colleagues shocked

Those who worked with Mr Morgan spoke of their shock at the actor's unexpected death.

Fellow Father Ted actor Frank Kelly said the death of his colleague had left him "shattered and traumatised."

"Dermot's mind was mercurial. He was able to get on top of a very big role. He was very, very professional about this whole thing," said Mr Kelly, who plays the elderly drunken cleric, Father Jack, in the show.

"I think that he was a kind of comedic meteor. He literally burned himself out, I think."

"This is shocking and tragic news. Dermot was very funny and very talented," said Arthur Matthews, who wrote the Father Ted scripts with Graham Linehan.

He said they soon realised that he would be ideal for the lead role.

"He was very easy to write for it, and brilliant in it. And he got recognition for being brilliant in it.

"It is not that easy a role, and I cannot imagine anyone else having done it. He really made it his own."

[ image: Jackson:
Jackson: "stunned"
The show was a big hit for Britain's Channel 4, attracting high ratings.

"Already well-known in his native Ireland as a political satirist on radio and television, Dermot Morgan reached millions in Britain with his brilliant portrayal of Father Ted Crilly," said Michael Jackson, the chief executive of Channel 4.

"All of us at Channel 4 are shocked and deeply stunned to think that so talented an actor and performer should have his life cut short at the peak of his career."

Father Ted was a success story for Hat Trick, the production company which made the show.

"Dermot made Father Ted one of the great comic creations. It has been a privilege for all of us to be part of that," said Denise O'Donoghue, Hat Trick's managing director.

Clergy mourn 'tragic loss'

Even members of the clergy joined in the tributes to the actor, who played a priest on a small isolated island.

Father Brian Darcy, a Catholic priest and broadcaster who was a friend of Dermot Morgan, said it was a tragic loss.

He said Mr Morgan had told him he wanted the latest series of Father Ted to be his last.

"He had struggled a lot in his life and Father Ted had given him the ground to move into something else. I know he wanted this to be the last one," he said.

"It's just tragic that in the week the new series was going to run he should be taken away so tragically and it's a great loss to us all."

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