Ardal O'Hanlon is the son of politician and doctor Rory O'Hanlon. It was revealed in 2008 that his paternal grandfather, Michael O'Hanlon, was part of the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence and was involved with the squad that assassinated British secret service agents on Bloody Sunday. After attending secondary school in Carrickmacross, he enrolled in Blackrock College in Dublin (now Dublin City University), where he studied communications. His real interest was in stand-up comedy, and in the early '90s he co-founded the "International Comedy Cellar" with close friends and fellow comedians Kevin Gildea and Barry Murphy. Here he hosted numerous stand-up shows and won several awards as a performer himself, before being noticed by television writer Graham Linehan who cast him in his breakout role as Father Dougal McGuire for the Channel 4 sitcom "Father Ted" alongside Dermot Morgan, who had also come from a stand-up background. "Father Ted" won many comedy awards, including the BAFTA for Best Comedy in 1999. After Morgan's sudden death in 1999, "Father Ted" ended and O'Hanlon was cast in the lead role for the BBC One series "My Hero" (2000-06), in which he played a naïve superhero who tries to fit into the real world as a health-food store owner in England. He continued to make appearances on British television, and also reached a new audience as the voice of Robbie the Reindeer for the animated series of the same name. After several years working as a stand-up comedian and appearing frequently in TV guest spots and films, O'Hanlon returned to series TV when he replaced Kris Marshall as the star of crime drama "Death In Paradise" (BBC One 2011-). O'Hanlon left the series in 2020.