Brendan Grace death: Father Ted actor and comedian dies following battle with lung cancer

Father Ted actor Brendan Grace has died aged 68 after it emerged he was battling lung cancer.

The actor's family said he died peacefully and was very grateful for the support he received from fans all over the world after his illness was announced.

Mrs Brown's Boys creator and star Brendan O'Carroll was among those paying tribute to Brendan on Twitter, saying: "He opened doors for so many of us and leaves a legacy of love and laughter that will echo through this land and we will all mourn his passing."

It emerged earlier this month that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer while being treated for pneumonia.

Grace began his career as a musician with The Gingermen and recorded Combine Harvester as a solo artist in 1975. The track would later become a UK number one for The Wurzels.

He performed with stars including John Denver and Frank Sinatra, who referred to Grace as his "man in Europe."

His comedy schoolboy character Bottler was a huge hit in Ireland and eventually spawned a TV movie in 2013.

He appeared as the jungle-music loving, rude Father Stack in the ninth episode of Father Ted’s second series in 1996.

The role introduced him to a new generation of viewers, though Grace admitted he "wasn't really a fan" of the series before taking the part.

"When Father Ted first came on, I wasn't really a fan," he told RTE. "I'm not sure I had watched it at all, but there was a part on offer so I went along for the reading.

"Some very well known actors also went along but mine was picked up because of the way I portrayed him. I put a different spin on Father Stack, making him more passive aggressive, and that's what the writers wanted."

He added: "From that day to this, I get hundreds of people who come up to me and ask me to recite a line of Father Stack's into their phone.

"Some of these people never heard about Bottler, some of them probably don't know I'm Brendan Grace, but they all know about this dreadful, sarcastic priest."

He had four children with his wife, and three grandchildren.

Speaking last year in the RTE documentary Brendan Grace: Funny Man, the comic revealed that he had experienced some major health struggles in recent years, including a stroke and gangrene caused by diabetes, which he described as "a bit of a blow."