Ex-cleric drowned due to rain and high tide, inquest told

Roger Grainger’s body had no injuries consistent with road traffic incident - pathologist

An 81-year-old clergyman and actor drowned in a flood last weekend as a result of a “freak” combination of torrential rain and a high tide, an inquest was told today (Friday).

Veteran actor and retired Anglican priest Roger Grainger drove downhill into floods at Dugort, Achill Island, at about 10pm on Sunday night last, Sgt Rory Brennan told an inquest in Castlebar.

Sgt Brennan explained: “The car was taken out of his [Rev Grainger’s] control into the middle of the flood. His car was trapped between a wall and a ditch.

“Efforts to free him by local people were unsuccessful. Only when emergency services came could he be taken from the vehicle.”


Sgt Brennan told Coroner John O’Dwyer the road, close to the sea at Dugort, came into deep water due to a combination of torrential rain, a high tide and high winds. Two drains on the hillside were flooded.

No evidence

Consultant pathologist Dr Fadel Bennani, who carried out a postmortem at Mayo General Hospital, said the body showed no evidence of injuries sustained in a road traffic incident.

There was no damage either to internal or external organs, said the pathologist, describing Rev Grainger as “a healthy man”.

Dr Bennani outlined the cause of death as asphyxia due to drowning.

On the application of Garda Supt Sean Colleran, the coroner adjourned the inquest to December 14th to allow for the completion of full Garda investigations.

A funeral service for Rev Grainger will be held at St Thomas’s Church, Dugort, on Saturday at 11am.

Afterwards, the remains will be brought to Dublin for cremation.

The remains of the Rada-trained actor, who starred in a string of TV dramas including Last of the Summer Wine, Heartbeat and Emmerdale, will be flown to England next week for a ceremony at Wakefield Cathedral.

He is to be laid to rest in Wakefield beside the remains of his late former wife, Doreen.