Just a short distance away from the powers-that-be in Ireland, the Joker’s Chair is a memorial to one of the country’s most beloved alternative comedians, Dermot Morgan, who made his career satirizing Irish politics, and rose to international fame playing Father Ted, a priest that had quite a weakness for fame and money.
A former schoolteacher from Dublin, Dermot Morgan broke into comic acting in the late 1970s. He became a household name in the late 1980s for his work on the RTÉ radio show Scrap Saturday, which satirized the Irish politics of the day on either side of the political spectrum as well as business and church leaders and policy. When the show was cancelled in 1991, there were accusations of political interference.
Morgan would score the role of Father Ted Crilly in the British Channel Four sitcom Father Ted in 1995. The sitcom lasted three series and won multiple BAFTA Awards. One of three Catholic priests exiled to an eccentric parish on an island off the west coast of Ireland, Father Crilly with his weakness for money and great desire for fame headlined a cast that included many Irish comedians throughout its run. The series became a cultural touchstone in Ireland and beyond.
Right after the final episode of the last series wrapped production, Morgan and his family hosted a dinner party at his London home. But at this party, almost 24 hours after the final scene was shot, Dermot Morgan suffered a massive heart attack and died on February 28, 1998, at age 45. At his funeral mass, two Irish Presidents, Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson, were in attendance as well as other political and church leaders, who were often the targets of his satire.
His memorial is the Joker’s Chair in Merrion Square, Dublin. The joker, or jester, is the entertainer who was able to criticize the royal court. There is a symbol of an eye underneath the seat of the chair, which is meant to tepresent the “all seeing eye”. Ireland’s first alternative comedian has left a legacy in the country, with his memorial just a walk away from the powers he would satirize.
Know Before You Go
The Joker's chair is located in the middle of Merrion Square, in the north-east quadrant.