Comedian Brendan Grace has passed away

Brendan Grace

Brendan Grace

No, the song wasn't written by The Wurzels, who had a huge United Kingdom hit with it in 1976, but by Irish comedian Brendan Grace, who went to Number One in Ireland a year earlier with the rustic version of Melanie's Brand New Key.

The Father Ted star passed away peacefully just after midnight, his family say.

The 68-year-old had been battling lung cancer.

His family issued a short statement to RTE confirming the news and expressing their gratitude for all of the support they have received since his illness was announced, last week.

'We have lost a very bright star.

May he rest in peace. We can look back with pride on Brendan's lifetime.

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He had been receiving treatment in hospital for pneumonia when the more serious illness was discovered.

He had suffered ill health in recent years, but continued to tour and perform. It also led to gangrene and the loss of some of his toes.

Kelly said: "Sinatra fell around the place laughing at him".

He was known for his comedy schoolboy character "Bottler", the role of Murphy in the 1995 film "Moondance", and his 1996 appearance in the sitcom "Father Ted" as Fr Fintan Stack. Past year he was the subject of a documentary on Irish state broadcaster RTE.

As a musician, Grace's impressive string of hits included, most notably, the chart-topping Irish song Combine Harvester, which was later covered by The Wurzels.

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