Dougal McGuire is a fictional priest in the Irish sitcom Father Ted. Dougal is one of the three priests on Craggy Island, along with the greedy and vainglorious Ted Crilly and the violent and surly alcoholic Jack Hackett. He was played by Irish actor Ardal O'Hanlon.
Dougal is shown to be a generally unintelligent, dim-witted and ignorant young priest (he once merrily confessed that "the lights are on but there's no one home"), Dougal has no belief in or even a remote understanding of Catholicism, once admitting that he believes more in Darth Vader and Phantom of the Opera than he does in God. Ted reminds him to write down people that don't exist on a list, such as Magnum, P.I. and the Loch Ness Monster. He reveals to Ted that he does not believe in the afterlife and that he wishes he shared Ted's own faith in the concept. Dougal believes Catholicism to be a "bit of a laugh" which is not to be taken seriously and expresses much confusion and doubt as to the origins of mankind as described in the Bible. He hints that he believes in extraterrestrial life and claims to have once seen a ghost, which was revealed to actually be Ted.
Quite how he became a member of the clergy, or how he ended up on Craggy Island, remains a mystery, although in one episode, Bishop Brennan mentions that the latter was punishment for an incident at Blackrock aboard a Sealink ferry in which the lives of a group of nuns were left irreparably damaged. In "Grant Unto Him Eternal Rest", Ted sarcastically suggests that he managed to enter the priesthood via a "collect twelve crisp packets and become a priest" promotion.
A cheerful, innocent and naive soul, he has a childlike perception of life that rarely holds him in good stead with the priests with whom he shares the parochial house in which he lives, with the much more grounded, cynical Ted, who, though occasionally acting as his parent-figure, tends to regard both him and his ignorance as an incredible annoyance, and the surly, violence prone alcoholic Father Jack who occasionally refers to him as a "gobshite", regards him (along with Ted and every other person he's encountered) with nothing but contempt . Dougal enjoys watching scary films, including Aliens and the untitled slasher film he watches in "A Christmassy Ted". He believes the film Herbie to be a scary film, being terrified of the idea of a Volkswagen coming to life.
In the episode "Old Grey Whistle Theft", Dougal is 25 years old, and soon to be 26.
In keeping with his childish personality, Dougal has a great passion for rollerblading and often appears out of sync with reality. On occasions, when asleep,he dreams he is taking part in well known UK gameshows, such as Countdown or Blockbusters' which annoys Ted as he is shouting out the answers very loudly. He famously sleeps in a Republic of Ireland national football team shirt, and has garish He-Man bedsheets. He considers Catholicism to be some sort of 'weird cult', and sees his career simply as a 'bit of a laugh', rather than a pious calling. His attempts at giving the death sacraments in Latin ended in his reciting the A.C. Milan football squad for 1995.
Aside from his profession, he also has trouble understanding basic concepts, such as optical illusions; in one renowned scene, Ted spends hours showing Dougal that a toy cow isn't the same size as one standing far away, even though they appear so to the naked eye.
From time to time however, Dougal does demonstrate a level of intelligence that occasionally surpasses that of Father Ted. In the episode "Cigarettes and Alcohol and Rollerblading", Dougal points out to Ted that knocking gently on the door of Rugged Island Parochial House wouldn't wake up the occupants. Instead Dougal suggests that Ted knocks loudly, which he does.
Father Dougal also has a fear of women. He has been known to hide from women, or otherwise ignore them. Ted spends time trying to explain to Dougal how to deal with women, which sometimes leads to embarrassing situations, such as giving away the parish house. However, Dougal seems to be much more relaxed with Nuns. In the episode "Grant Unto Him Eternal Rest", Dougal admits that he doesn't feel as nervous with a nun as much as he does with an ordinary woman. The whole situation of being uneasy around women more than likely evolves around him being a priest - presumably because, like all priests, he can't look at women in any romantic or sexual way. This situation for someone incredibly naive and carefree would be extremely difficult, so he avoids women. Father Ted once warned Dougal (episode "And God Created Woman") that he could not think of women in a conventional sense (women being attractive to Dougal) anymore now that he is a priest.
Father Cyril McDuff of Rugged Island resembles Father Dougal - ironically, Dougal thinks the former is an "awful eejit".
As testament to the character's enduring popularity, Irish bookmakers humorously began collecting bets on whether Dougal would succeed Pope John Paul II upon his death. The odds were 1,000 - 1, and some small stakes were actually received.
- Dougal seems to be slow.
- Dougal's dim-witted and childish personality may indicate that he suffers from a mild development disorder.
- Dougal is at times subjected to aggression from Father Jack, though not as often as Ted.
- Dougal is more relaxed with nuns than ordinary women - a reversed contrast to the behaviour of Father Jack.