Rynagh O’Grady death: Father Ted star dies suddenly aged 67

Irish actor was known for playing shopkeeper Mary O'Leary in the hit Channel 4 sitcom

Rynagh O'Grady as Mary O'Leary in Father Ted

Irish actor Rynagh O'Grady has died suddenly at the age of 67.

She was best known for playing the role of irascible shopkeeper Mary O'Leary on the hit Channel 4 comedy Father Ted.

Rynagh enjoyed a career on stage and screen which spanned more than five decades, and was a respected figure in the Irish theatre scene, as an actor, as well as a writer and director.

The Dublin-born thespian trained in the Abbey School of Acting. In a statement posted to social media, the Abbey Theatre wrote: “We were deeply saddened to hear of the sudden passing of our beloved friend and colleague Rynagh O’Grady. We are thinking of her family and all who loved her.

“Rynagh trained in the Abbey School of Acting and first appeared on our stages in 1969. Notable productions included Donal O’Kelly’s Mamie Sighs in 1990 and more recently in Deirdre Kinahan’s The Unmanageable Sisters.”

The theatre's director, Graham McLaren, paid tribute to his late collaborator, saying: “I'd sneak into the back row of the Abbey to watch her hush a hysterical audience with a look, then lead them through a speech full of heart, humanity & justice.

“Irish theatre got a lot darker today,” he added.

In Father Ted, Mary was known for her acidic arguments with her husband John (Patrick Drury), which stood in sharp comedic contrast to her sunny tone when talking to customers.

O'Grady also appeared in films including 1992's Far and Away, alongside Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, The Commitments, and Breakfast On Pluto.

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