SAVING GRACE; Comedian Brendan tells how he helped his pal O'Carroll get started in stand-up.
BRENDAN Grace has revealed he gave Brendan O'Carroll his first gigs when he was a struggling stand-up.
The 63-year-old comic also said he believes the success of his pal will encourage others to perform comedy on stage.
He revealed: "Brendan started on the road with me and his success has been phenomenal. He started off doing bits and pieces with me.
"I would never want to do a sitcom myself but his success has been very encouraging to younger people. Brendan is younger than I am and it is great to see everything working for him.
"People like Ardal O'Hanlon and Tommy Tiernan are doing a very difficult job. It is hard but the more people who are successful at it, the more others will be encouraged to get into it.
"I like that Brendan's entire family are involved and I have never seen that done before. And it works."
Brendan's own grandchildren James, seven, and six-year-old Patrick will soon be getting in on the act when he appears at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin starting on March 25.
They're his daughter Melanie's children with husband Frank Gillespie - who was controversially involved in a row with Roy Keane at a Dublin hotel last year.
But Brendan said Frank and the Ireland assistant boss are old pals.
He revealed: "They were friends and like I told Ryan Tubridy the week that it happened, it was just a friendly. It was just a clash.
"Frank had written a book himself called Confessions From The Blackthorn and it was re-released after that.
"Every journalist in Ireland was out to get an interview with him. But that was a great success too.
"He and Melanie have two sons, James and Patrick, and James is showing great promise as a child for acting and entertainment and is coming on stage with me."
Brendan is best known to some as Bottler and for others as Fr Fintan Stack on Father Ted.
He revealed: "I did seven minutes of Fr Ted as Fr Fintan Stack - he was obnoxious but it captured the imagination of a new audience.
"And I now have those people coming along and even if I only do a few lines of the show they are happy.
"It's great to see the likes of that happening and the Tedfest as well."
But although TV3 recently made Bottler into a one-off cartoon, Brendan said he wasn't happy as the little fella didn't havebeard.
He added: "Bottler is my alter ego - if you were to visualise a young version of Brendan Grace that is him.
"It's naughty without being blue. But I wasn't happy with the cartoon because Bottler wasn't me in it. He should have been a schoolboy with a beard but we are looking at doing it again with the real Bottler."
Despite the fact that diabetes took a toll on his health, Brendan said he's now managing his condition and feels better than ever. He revealed: "I'm doing the Opera House in Cork this week and then I am doing the Olympia from March 25 to 29.
"I am doing Boston, a few gigs in Canada, so I am going around like a feathered bird. It's no problem, I am healthy enough to travel and I love it.
"If I didn't like the business I wouldn't do it - it has been very good to me as I have been doing this for 44 years.
"I have always enjoyed meeting people and I get a great kick out of people's reactions.
"I feel better than I did three years ago.
I have thrown down the gauntlet to myself and said, 'You'd better behave'."
"It's hard but the more who are successful, the more who will try BRENDAN GRACE YESTERDAY
OBNOXIOUS As Fr Fintan Stack
FAMILY SHOW Brendan O'Carroll on Mrs Brown's Boys
CLASS ACT Brendan Grace as schoolboy Bottler