A new exhibition dedicated to the life and work of legendary Irish comedian Brendan Grace has opened at the Museum of Style Icons at Newbridge Silverware, Newbridge, Co. Kildare. ‘Brendan Grace and Bottler, The Liberty Boys’ features costumes and garments worn by Brendan Grace during the course of his illustrious 50-year career.
Fans of the comic genius will instantly recognise the costume he wore when dressed as ‘Bottler’ the naughty schoolboy who was always in trouble but had a quick and witty answer for everything. The sketch often involved Grace switching roles – alternating between the schoolboy, Bottler, and a schoolteacher. The famous costume included a green school blazer which Brendan wore with mis matched football socks.
Other garments on show include the costume Brendan wore for his famous ‘Drunken Father of The Bride’ act. In this act Grace played the role of the Father of the Bride where he gives the most embarrassing after dinner speech possible and goes on to mortify his daughter and insult the guests in equal measures.
The much-loved Irish comedian was often associated with Christmas due to the shows in which he appeared all around Ireland during the festive period and particularly at the Red Cow Moran Hotel where Brendan would host a special New Year’s Eve show. During this special performance, he would wear a bespoke ‘New Year’s Eve Countdown Clock’ shirt which is on show in the exhibition.
When Brendan appeared in the Channel Four programme, ‘Father Ted’ he immediately found a new audience who found his portrayal of the sleazy character, ‘Fr. Fintan Stack’ completely hilarious. Fr. Fintan Stack was an obnoxious, rude, and destructive priest who was sent to the parochial house as Fr. Jack’s replacement, after he contracts ‘Hairy Hands Syndrome.’ The costume consists of a black priest’s suit with a white colour and was set off by a massive black bejewelled cross worn around his neck. A huge ghetto blaster carried on Fr. Fintan’s Stack’s shoulder finished the look. Although, he only appeared in one episode Brendan’s portrayal of Fr. Fintan Stack is fondly remembered as one of the funniest episodes in the chronicles of Father Ted.
The exhibition which has been organised by Pauline Doyle, the curator of the Museum of Style Icons in conjunction with the Grace family perfectly captures the sense of who Brendan was, not just as a performer but also as a husband, father and friend. Also on show are some fabulous photographs of Brendan with famous faces including Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Junior, Bill Clinton and Maureen O’Hara who was one of his oldest friends.
Brendan’s beloved Honda 90 motorbike is one of the more unusual exhibits in this exhibition. Brendan’s daughter, Amanda commented, “Dad loved bikes and it actually didn’t matter want kind of model it was as long as it had a smell of diesel off it!” Over the years, Brendan had many motorbikes, they featured on album covers, TV appearances and on Panto. On approaching his 50th birthday, Amanda, was at a loss for what to gift her dad until she came across a used Honda 90 for sale through a fellow motorbike enthusiast, John Sheedy, in Killaloe. Knowing Brendan’s love of nostalgia and memorabilia, along with her own treasured memory of travelling into a recording studio on the back of a Honda 90 when she was 10, she was inspired to buy the bike and have it renovated for him.
Eileen Grace, Brendan’s wife said, “We are so pleased with this exhibition, it’s just a wonderful tribute to Brendan and it really represents his life and his career so wonderfully. Although he died two years ago, we as a family feel his presence every day. Seeing all of these beautiful costumes and exhibits is really special and makes us feel he is even closer. It’s just a joy to be here, the room is filled with his spirit and sense of joy and mischief, the only thing that is missing is Brendan himself.”
‘Brendan Grace and Bottler, The Liberty Boys’ runs at the Museum of Style Icons at Newbridge Silverware until spring 2022. It is open 7 days a week and admission is free.