Abbey Theatre and Father Ted actor Rynagh O’Grady has died

Performer first appeared at Abbey in 1969 and went on to feature in the Commitments

Actor Rynagh O’Grady. Photograph: Abbey Theatre/Twitter

Actor Rynagh O’Grady. Photograph: Abbey Theatre/Twitter


Irish actor Rynagh O’Grady, best known for her roles at the Abbey Theatre and as Mary in Father Ted, has died.

Announcing her death, the Abbey Theatre described O’Grady as “our beloved friend and colleague”.

The actor, who was born in 1954, trained at the Abbey School of Acting and first appeared at the Abbey in 1969. One of her notable projects was Donal O’Kelly’s Mamie Sighs in 1990, while in more recent years she appeared in Deridre Kinahan’s The Unmanageable Sisters in 2018.

The Abbey Theatre’s director, Graham McLaren, paid tribute to O’Grady’s “grace, her talent, her humour, her integrity, her patience”. In a statement released by the Abbey Theatre, he said: “Irish theatre got a lot darker today”.

He reminisced on sneaking 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 and justice”.

She played Mary O’Leary in the Channel 4 sitcom Father Ted and Minnie Kennedy in the 1999 film A Love Divided. She also appeared in The Commitments, Breakfast on Pluto, and Far and Away.

O’Grady was involved in the 2015 Waking the Feminists”ampaign to push for a shift away from what she described as an “appalling bias against women” in the acting industry.

She was chair of Women in Film and TV Ireland for many years and an active executive member of Irish Equity.