Dublin: 16 °C Friday 24 September, 2021

We asked some real priests how they remember Father Ted

The show is 20 years old, and it has certainly made an impression on everyone.

WITH THE FIRST ever episode of Father Ted broadcast on April 21 1995, nobody can deny the iconic status it has since achieved in Irish culture.

But what about the people that it actually portrayed on screen? We asked some Irish priests how they look upon the show now, 20 years on.

Father Jack Source: Comicsbulletin

What did you think of Father Ted when you first saw it?

Dublin priest Father Gerry O’Connor was living in Brazil when Father Ted was first broadcast but on his return he jumped straight in:

When I got back I made an effort to watch it, but I didn’t quite get it. Maybe it’s because I was out of the country for a while when it was on. Then, I watched it again and something really clicked. I had never met a priest like the characters before, but I could suddenly see some of the characteristics. I thought it was a masterclass.

fatherted Source: Hat Trick

Father Ray Kelly of Oldcastle in Meath, known to many as the singing priest, was a big fan when it first came out:

It was great humour. I suppose three priests living together on an island is not actually close to reality today, but it was great fun. You couldn’t help but laugh at it.

dougal1 Source: wikia

Father Sean Duggan from the Cherry Orchard Parish in Dublin was a teenager way back in 1995, but it left an impression on him:

I was 15 years old at the time that it was launched. I remember a few classmates in school who had seen it on Channel 4. They were raving about it. Father Ted is streets ahead of current Irish comedy shows. It captures an essential part of comedy which is to offer a view of reality, which at times might not be complimentary, but yet it’s presented in a way that gets around people’s differences.

maxresdefault Source: Youtube

Who is your favourite character?

Father Gerry O’Connor:

I always enjoyed Ted, Dougal and Mrs Doyle especially – not so much Father Jack. Ted, though, there were parts of him that I could see in so many different priests. Obviously the original was Father Trendy – but Ted was a great character as well.

priests Source: dailymotion

Father Sean Duggan:

My favourite character is Bishop O’Neill. Bishop O’Neill, after a visit to Craggy Island and a chat with Father Dougal, loses belief in God and becomes a pot-smoking hippie! He is not a big character in the series but stands out for his openness to new possibilities!

musical-752x501Source: Youtube

Do people ever mention the show to you?

Father Ray Kelly:

Kids still watch the show as it’s repeated so much even today so when I go to schools they often mention the Eurovision episode because I sing, and will make a My Lovely Horse reference as well. It’s all done in good spirits though.


Father Sean Duggan:

Father Ted is mentioned to me sometimes. Usually it’s when I’m visiting houses and I’m asked ‘would you like a cup of tea… go on go on go on’.  Or if I’m having a pint in the pub it’s ‘howya Father Jack’.

krnseqhxnflfbig Source: Stagevu

Has anything happened to you that could have been in the show?

Father Sean has seen so many incidents that could easily have been in Father Ted. Among them:

  • mourners at a funeral have fallen into an open grave at the cemetery
  • a groom vomited on the bride at a wedding
  • at the exchange of vows between a bride and groom the groom called his bride by the wrong name – it was the name of an ex-girlfriend
  • parents that came to have their baby baptised forgot to bring their baby and left her at home

Rock-a-Hula_Ted-grab02 Source: Wikimedia

But there is one recent story that Father Sean Duggan goes into that could very well have happened on Craggy Island:
I train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and was on my way home late one night after training. The area I work in can have a very high police presence, particularly at night. An unmarked Garda car came out of thin air and pulled me in. The Garda asked for my name and address and drivers license. He asked me what I was doing in the area. I told him that I was the parish priest.  He didn’t believe me and thought I was messing with him. He ordered me out of the car and searched me under the Misuse of Drugs Act. When he went to search the boot of the car the only ‘gear’ he found was my gear bag.  Further back in the boot he also found a box of prayer books, rosary beads and holy medals.  The look on his face was priceless. It would definitely have been a scene from Father Ted.

tedjack Source: Channel 4 Youtube

So, we’ll leave the final word to Father Sean Duggan

Father Ted has shown that Catholics have a sense of humour.  Some of it is close to the bone but maybe not too far from reality either.

More 10 times Father Ted happened in real life>

More The Hardest Father Ted Quiz Ever>

About the author:

David Elkin

Read next: