President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to Brendan Grace, who has died aged 68 saying his sense of humour was a "profound contribution" to the "deep wellspring of Irish wit".

In a statement, President Higgins said he had learned with great sadness of the death of Brendan Grace.

The comedian and singer died this morning following a short illness.

The president said that as a comedian Grace's "spontaneous wit and his sense of timing, his obvious delighting in interaction with his audiences, meant that Brendan's sense of humour was drawing from, and itself a profound contribution to, the deep wellspring of Irish wit".

Mr Higgins said Grace's best-loved characters will endure "precisely because they are both recognisable and representative of the experiences lived and recalled by Irish people of all ages".

President Higgins said it was a privilege to know Grace, who only recently was at a garden party in Áras an Uachtaráin with The Forget Me Nots choir.

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A book of condolence will be opened at the Mansion House in Dublin today and tomorrow.

Read/view more:
In pictures: Brendan Grace

Archives 1976 - Brendan Grace recalls growing up in The Liberties
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Politicians have been paying tribute, with Tánaiste Simon Coveney describing him as a "giant" who made people laugh.

Speaking in the Dáil, he said Grace's acting and talent had been a source of entertainment for many decades.

Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary also paid tribute to the comedian, saying that he brought joy and laughter to generations of people for more than 50 years as an entertainer.

He said Brendan Grace was immensely talented and used it to improve the lives of those he spoke to.

Labour Leader Brendan Howlin said Grace had brought "boundless joy" to millions of Irish people at home and abroad.

He said he was a talented actor, singer and comedian, who would be sorely missed.