Frank Kelly death: Tributes paid to 'Father Jack' actor

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image captionFrank Kelly was known for his role as Father Jack in the television series Father Ted

Tributes have been paid to Irish actor Frank Kelly, best known for playing Father Jack Hackett in the comedy sitcom Father Ted, who has died aged 77.

Kelly was a veteran of stage and screen, his career lasting 60 years.

He had more recent roles in Emmerdale and Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie.

Kelly revealed last November that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, although he said he would continue to work.

He had received the all-clear from bowel cancer in 2011. He was treated for skin cancer last year and also had heart problems.

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image captionFrank Kelly and his wife in 2003

The actor passed away exactly 18 years after the death of his Father Ted co-star Dermot Morgan.

Morgan died on Sunday 28 February 1998. His son, Don Morgan, tweeted about the coincidence of the date.

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Graham Linehan, the writer of Father Ted, tweeted his condolences.

"Just hearing from various sources that Frank Kelly has passed away," he tweeted.

"Terribly sad news. Thanks for everything Frank."

The sitcom's co-writer, Arthur Mathews, also responded on Twitter.

"Sad news," he said. "Comedy legend. So thrilled we had him in Father Ted."

'Lovely man'

Kelly's co-star Ardal O'Hanlon, who played Father Dougal McGuire, called him a "gentleman".

"Very sad news. We had lunch together at Christmas when he was in his usual feisty form," he said.

"Frank was an all-round talent, an institution in Irish entertainment, a very determined professional and he'll be greatly missed by all who knew him."

Brendan O'Carroll, star of Mrs Brown's Boys, spoke fondly of working with Frank Kelly in Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie,

"News of Frank Kelly's passing just reached us in Australia. Such a lovely man and a joy to work with," he said.

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Irish president Michael D Higgins described Kelly as "a friend" and "a distinguished actor who made such a wide and valued contribution both on the stage and in film".

"He will forever be remembered for his roles."

"To his wife Bairbre and his family I send deepest sympathy; for theirs is the greatest loss of such a great and loving person."

The actor is survived by his wife of 51 years Bairbre, seven children and 17 grandchildren.