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The Mass appeal of Ardal

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Ardal O'Hanlon

by Olaf Tyaransen

Ardal O’Hanlon only spent a total of about eight months of his lengthy career acting in Father Ted, but it’s for his role as the hapless Fr. Dougal McGuire that he inarguably remains best known. He’s not complaining about it, mind, but the now 49-year-old, Monaghan-born, comic still hasn’t gone to TedFest.

“I’ve never been, no,” he admits. “But I do this joke, which is kind of a rip-off. I say that I went to TedFest and when I was there I entered into a Father Dougal lookalike competition… and I only came third! It’s kind of a joke, but it’s something that really did happen to Maurice Gibb who, as you probably know, was a big Father Ted fan.”

Indeed, the late Bee Gee was such a fan of the now classic sitcom that he was reportedly buried with a complete box set. “I have that on good authority from Robin Gibb’s wife. She told me that story about him entering into the Maurice Gibb lookalike competition in Miami and only coming third. It’s just another example of how quickly people forget.

I would never be tempted to go to TedFest, to be honest with you, for a couple of reasons,” he continues. “First of all, I don’t know what I could contribute to it. I think I’d be a disappointment to the real diehard fans because I’m not really Father Dougal, that was just a character. Secondly, I always felt it was really important to move on as quickly as possible, even though that’s what a lot of people know me for, which is fine. To keep your sanity and everything else, you have to look ahead and not dwell on the past.”

Post-Father Ted, the happily married father-of-three has kept himself incredibly busy. Something of a renaissance man, O’Hanlon is an occasional guest on UK comedy shows (Live at the Apollo, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, etc.), has appeared in several films and TV shows (Flying Saucer Rock ‘n’ Roll, My Hero, The Butcher Boy), and published a well-received novel (The Talk of the Town).

Stand=up remains his first love, however. Since founding Ireland’s first comedy club, The Comedy Cellar (situated above Dublin’s International Bar), alongside Barry Murphy and Kevin Gildea in the early ‘90s, the award-winning stand-up has continued to make paying punters laugh all over the world.

Even so, he maintains that there’s something special about Irish audiences. “I think you could describe Irish audiences as being generally more ‘over-friendly’. They feel more part of the show than a typical English audience. When you go around England, audiences tend to be very conventional and know their place; they sit there and enjoy the show and react according to what amuses them. In Ireland, I think it’s just more casual. The whole approach to comedy has developed in a slightly different way.

“There’s more interaction between performer and audience. The audience is more vocal. There’s a touch of restlessness about an Irish audience. The attention span wouldn’t be as good as elsewhere.”

Given this, he tends to favour a looser approach to his performances on Irish soil. “I would definitely approach a gig in Ireland slightly differently than I would in the UK,” he says. “You’re more on your toes in Ireland. You kind of have to be more lively, more on the front foot. You mightn’t do material as ‘crafted’ as you would in the UK. I think there’s much more appreciation for a good one-liner over there. People like Milton Jones and Tim Vine might not work as well in Ireland as they would in the UK.”

Where does he stand on hecklers? “I have no real issue with them,” he shrugs. “It’s not as big a deal as some people make out. The actual classic heckle followed by classic putdown isn’t really a big thing. What you might get is a disruptive influence that you might have to stamp on and step out of your persona for a moment or two. It’s just never really been a huge deal in my experience. You’d certainly welcome interaction. You ask questions and you want to engage to some degree. At the same time you don’t want the show to be disrupted.

“There’s different kinds of comedy, as you know yourself. There are a lot of performers whose entire stock and trade is banter with the audience and then there are others – and I would classify myself as part of this group – where you develop your material, you write it out, you hone it, you revise it, you’re deliberate, and you have some semblance of structure to the show. You want to stick to that as much as possible, but you have to be very flexible. You play to the audience in front of you. You can’t play to the imaginary audience in your head.”

What kind of show will he be bringing to the Comedy Carnival in Galway?

“Well I’ve never really had titles for my shows. It’s hard enough to come up with jokes, never mind fucking titles! It’s kind of a work in progress, really. I’ve been trying to develop a new show over the last six months with a view to touring it next year. There’s a lot of new material but no real particular themes, except maybe a slight ‘ ageing’ theme in it. It’s mostly just jokes and funny twists on old themes.”

Speaking of ageing, O’Hanlon will turn 50 just a few weeks before he comes to Galway. Will that birthday be a big deal to him?

“Not really. I think there’s a natural introspection when you approach milestones like that even though you don’t feel any different or look significantly different. I think societal convention dictates that you have a look inwards and you decide where you’re at in terms of your life and your career and everything. So, yeah, I suppose there has been a bit of that, but no major conclusions as of yet.”

So no impending midlife crisis then?

“I hate terms like ‘midlife crisis’,” he sighs. “I just think they’re really, really pathetic. I was always an old fella, from the age of 20, so I probably had a midlife crisis around the age of 25 or something. I got it out of my system quite early. But you know, I probably have gone down that road a little bit in terms of doing things I wouldn’t have done 10, 20 years ago, like hiking, rafting and stuff like that, which is really stupid. So I kind of have strayed into that territory a little bit, thinking life is running out and I should do things that I haven’t done.”

So what’s left on Ardal O’Hanlon’s bucket list?

“I actually do stuff about this in my show and I’m finding it really difficult to come up with things, whether it’s due a lack of imagination or not, I don’t know. It’s not as if I’ve done everything. I quite like lying around a lot of the time, as well. A lot of people want to swim with a dolphin and they want to get a tattoo. I want to tattoo a dolphin. That would be the last thing on my bucket list… but apparently you’re not allowed to do that.”

Ardal plays The Spiegeltent, Eyre Square on Wednesday October 21st. See here for more details.

CITY TRIBUNE

Raines launch new single and get set to tour

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The Raines: Ruth Dillon, Yvonne Tiernan and Juliana Erkkonen.

Galway’s Folk and Americana trio, The Raines, have just released a new single and are about to embark on a national tour, starting next week.

Another Lover is the fourth single from the trio – Ruth Dillon, Yvonne Tiernan and Juliana Erkkonen – and comes from their forthcoming album. The song is on the RTÉ Radio 1 ‘Recommends List’ this week. Their previous singles also received extensive airplay on RTÉ and reached number one on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter Chart,

Like them, Another Lover features soaring vocal harmonies and sweeping strings. Ruth performs vocals, guitar and ukulele, while Juliana is on fiddle and vocals and Yvonne is on vocals and ukulele.

It also features John O’Dwyer on bass, Cesar Benzoni on mandolin and Cormac Dunne on drums.

Award-winning producer Brian Masterson, who has worked with The Chieftains, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson and The Bothy Band, mixed and mastered the track.

“We’re thrilled to be kicking off our first Irish tour in Whelan’s, Dublin, next Friday,  June 3, and taking the band on the road to play around the country,” says Yvonne. “The part we love most about being in The Raines is playing our music to a live audience.”

The Raines will be in Clifden’s Station House Theatre on Sunday, June 12, at Galway Folk Festival on Friday, June 17, and Áras Éanna, Inis Oírr, on Sunday, August 20.

Tickets on sale now via ticketmaster.com and Galway Folk festival.

Another Lover is out now on all major digital platforms.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Excellent production let down by a weak script

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Amelia Crowley as Breda in The Cavalcaders.

REVIEW BY JUDY MURPHY:

THE CAVALCADERS BY BILLY ROCHE DRUID THEATRE

Aaron Monahan has proven his mettle as an actor in many Druid productions through the years. Now, he’s on his debut outing as a director with the company and he’s no slouch in this regard either.

He’s already directed several successful shows for Cavan company, Livin’ Dread, and brings those skills to Druid’s latest production, Billy Roche’s The Cavalcaders.  There’s an impressive cast too, showcasing singing and dancing skills as well as acting ability.

Which makes it a pity that Druid didn’t pick a better vehicle for all this talent.

The Cavalcaders, which premiered on the Peacock stage of the Abbey Theatre in 1993, is set in a shoemaker’s shop in a provincial town and its central character Terry (Garret Lombard) is going through what seems to be a midlife crisis, looking back on the errors of his younger years.

He owns the shop and has just sold it to Rory (Naoise Dunbar), an effervescent, enthusiastic young employee who is planning big changes.

And so, we begin a journey back in time to explore Terry’s youth and the events that shaped him and led to his many regrets. It’s a trip that’s enlivened by great singing, as Terry, Rory and their fellow workers Josie (Sean Kearns) and Ted (Tiernan Messit-Greene) perform in a barber-shop group called The Cavalcaders.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Three stars share one night in Ballinasloe concert

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Eleanor Shanley and John Feeley

Three of the West’s finest performers will share the stage at Ballinasloe Town Hall next Friday, June 3, in a unique live performance.

Ceol an tSamhraidh 2022 will feature Eleanor Shanley, John Feeley and Ultan Conlon for a night made possible through the support of Galway County Council Arts Office and funded through the Government’s Local Live Performance Scheme.

Eleanor Shanley and John Feeley first met in London in the 1990s, when she was touring with the iconic Galway band De Dannan.

They didn’t meet again for almost 25 years, when John was doing a show in Eleanor’s now-hometown of Ballinasloe.

They got chatting about doing some work together and have since joined forces for numerous live shows – and their new album, Cancion de Amor, is the result of their recording collaboration.

Recorded in the historic Meelick Friary, beside the River Shannon in Eyrecourt, Cancion de Amor is a beautiful body of work.

Eleanor and John share a meeting of musical minds and both love how John’s classical and Spanish-influenced guitar styles work with Eleanor’s distinctive voice in this unique and special collaboration.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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