Father Ted legend Dermot Morgan's son opens up about his dad on the 20th anniversary of his death

Ben Arnold
·Contributor
Dermot Morgan in Father Ted (Credit: Channel 4)
Dermot Morgan in Father Ted (Credit: Channel 4)

Dermot Morgan’s son Don Morgan has opened up about his late father in a touching tribute 20 years to the day after his death.

Morgan, best known for his role of Father Ted Crilly in the classic sitcom Father Ted, died in 1998 following a heart attack at his home.

He was just 45.

It left a huge hole in Don Morgan’s life, describing his father as a ‘heady mix of pure willingness, guts, and wit’.

“As I mulled over my experiences of being a son, it struck me that, although he loved footie, meeting mates, and having the craic, my dad wasn’t a cartoon alpha male,” he writes in an editorial for the Irish Examiner.

“He was emotional, emotionally aware, and willing to share. Despite an ability to seem like he wasn’t listening, he would upend your assumptions about what had passed through his mass of white hair and planted itself in his busy brain.”

He also speaks about how he wishes to bring up his own children with lessons learned from his father.

“What I also learned from my dad is that bottling it up isn’t the same as coping. He did, for the most part, find his upbringing reflective of a pronounced imposition of defined gender-based behaviours and responses. He was an emotional man, and by and large, his life was defined by his learning to understand his emotional responses,” he goes on.

“What I want for my boys to learn is to articulate their feelings, describe them and know it’s okay. Unfortunately this may be an uphill battle, as men and boys are still told that, to do that, is the opposite of manly.

(Credit: Rex Features)s
(Credit: Rex Features)s

“The trend of the last decade towards hyper-masculine behaviour has seen young men surrendering their emotional awareness and personal responsibility to a seemingly accepted but destructive machismo.

“‘Manning up’, as the comedian Robert Webb points out, means ignoring your emotions. As a kid, I knew my dad to be someone who refused to ignore them.”

He also adds that he will bring his sons up to be feminist, like their late grandfather.

“At a time when how boys are raised has been most critical, my dad, by his example, has influenced my hope that they will be feminists,” he writes.

“No one ought to be judged by their biology but rather judged on their character. We were brought up to be impatient for progress but to be willing to tolerate others and treat them with respect. My dad’s line of work was about puncturing thoughtless deference and taking a stick to give the stagnant pond a good stir to let the light in. That’s not a bad way to be.

“If the future is indeed feminist, which I think and very much hope it will be, I want my children to make a positive contribution to the society their generation will shape and, all going well, will see the start of the next century.


“Their grandad was a heady mix of pure willingness, guts, and wit. He was a man out of his time in his world view and his parenting style. It’s not a huge step to see how he pointed to where I want my children to go.

“They know who he was and if they show even an ounce of his guts and lust for life, they won’t go wrong.”

Dublin-born Morgan was a teacher before moving into comedy, writing scripts for TV and radio.

He starred in three series of the acclaimed Father Ted, with Ardal O’Hanlon, Frank Kelly and Pauline McLynn, from 1995 to 1998.

Morgan died the day after filming the final scenes for the show’s third series.

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