By Eileen Murphy
If you’re still not convinced that you need to hotfoot it over to the Irish Arts Center to catch Ardal O’Hanlon and Tommy Tiernan in their comedy show (which runs nine performances only, from Jan. 20-29), we’ve got the clincher. Apparently, people are up in a heap in Ireland over Tiernan’s cracks about his hometown of Navan, which he made in his RTE comedy special, "The Green, Green Grass of Home."
Noting that the town’s name is a palindrome (spelled the same backward and forward), he said it "indicates something about life in the town." In fact, he deadpanned, "It’s a cultureless fecking hole of a place." As Hal Roach would say, "Write that down!"
Winners of the Irish Arts Centre ticket giveaway are:
Ready for some Chit-Chat?
Well, Dublin gave us Boyzone and B*Witched, Dundalk gave us The Corrs, and Sligo, God help them, gave us Westlife. Now, not to be outdone, the people of Galway, Offaly and Sligo are sacrificing some of their comely young maidens to the altar of pop stardom. Pop mastermind Louis Walsh has put together yet another bunch of toothsome, acne-free teens, given them a few singing and makeup lessons, and, voila! World, meet Chit-Chat!
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The group is made up of sisters Cathy and Ciara Newell from Renmore, Co. Galway, Kelly Kilfeather from Cliffoney, Co. Sligo, Paula O’Neill from Banagher, Co. Offaly, and Tara Lee from Stillorgan, Co. Dublin. The girls beat out dozens of other hopefuls at the audition in Dublin.
"We just couldn’t believe it when we were both chosen," Cathy gushed to the Sunday World. "Everybody at home in Renmore is delighted because there are not that many people in Galway who do this kind of thing. We already have fans calling the house for autographs."
Chit Chat began their career with a band – literally. They made their debut performing on a Gay Byrne millennium TV special, "Ireland 2000."
Paula, a former model, says she’s taking a year off her university studies to see if her music career takes off.
"It was such a shock when I was chosen, but I’m happy that I got it because it’s something I always wanted to do," she said. "I deferred science for a year to give it a chance. Hopefully, this is the start of a brand new life for me!"
Party like it’s 1999 (again)
Feeling a bit let down after all the millennium hoopla? Disgusted because you didn’t get to go to any chi-chi parties? Need to get another wear out of that ridiculously fancy ball skirt you bought? Annoyed because you spent the night (like we did) sipping Robitussin instead of champagne? Wish you could do it all over again?
Well, you’re not alone. According to the Sunday World, actor Jeremy Irons, who planned to ring in the new century with a huge bash at his tumbledown castle in West Cork, is also suffering from the coulda-woulda-shouldas. Although he’s sunk almost £1 million into restoring the decaying estate, it was still in bits as the end of the year rolled around. So what’s a guy to do? Well, he’s scheduled his millennium bash for the end of this year, which is, technically, the start of the new century.
Of course, like most guys, Irons can’t bear to admit he might have miscalculated the time it would take to fix up his humble pile.
"I pooh-poohed this year," he told friends. (Funny, only maiden aunts and British actors can get away with phrases like "pooh-poohed.") "It’s the wrong year. Next year will be the real thing."
But one of Irons’s friends revealed that the actor is less than thrilled with the way repairs are going.
"Jeremy is disappointed with the progress on the castle," he confided. "As soon as he finishes [an acting] job, he rushes back. He seems to spend most of his time on a ladder," he added.
Rumored to be on the guest list for this year’s party are Liam Neeson, Natasha Richardson, who should be as thrilled as Jeremy and Sinead that the castle has a moat and (once repairs are finished) a working drawbridge. Liam could bring a coupla light sabers so he and Jer can have a bit of a duel while the girls watch from the top of the turret or whatever.
Sounds like a plan. So if you need a second chance at this whole millennium celebration thing, you might want to head for West Cork and start making friends, if you catch our drift.
Gene Kelly: cash for IRA?
File this one under Believe It or Not (and we’re not sure we do): The Sunday World has reported that legendary Hollywood dancer Gene Kelly donated $30,000 to the IRA in 1970. The paper’s Hugh Jordan reports that as Kelly wrote the check, he told Cathal Goulding and Dominic Behan, "This money is for guns. I don’t want it going to any do-gooders."
Kelly was reportedly a huge fan of Behan, who wrote "The Patriot Game," which was the actor’s favorite song. He was also impressed because Behan’s uncle Peadar Kearney had written the Irish national anthem.
The actor, who was raised in an Irish family in Pittsburgh, was keenly interested in Irish politics, especially during the Troubles.
The irony here, reports Jordan, is that Kelly’s money "helped fund the Official IRA’s transition into mainstream politics – not what the Hollywood crooner hoped at all."
Boyz to men
If we seem a little depressed this week, it’s because the moment we’ve been dreading for so long has come to pass. No, Mel Gibson is not getting hair plugs – Boyzone is breaking up. (Sob!) Or not breaking up. (Sob!) Really, it’s all very confusing.
As you know, the Boyz have been trying to prepare us for this painful development for months now. In their Sunday World column, in countless interviews, in streetcorner rants, they’ve been telling anyone who would listen that they were planning to take a year off to pursue solo ventures after their series of concerts at the Point Theatre. We’ve spent so much time together over the past six years, they whined. We need our space.
Though they insist that this is just a bit of a hiatus, everything they say sure sounds like goodbye. In the Boyzone column this week, Stephen Gately sounds a brave but a bit wistful.
The last show at the Point, he said, "marked a new beginning for all the members of Boyzone." But, he hastily reassured us, "It could have been an emotional one for us, had it not been for the fact that we all decided Boyzone will be back with a new tour." Sometime soon, he promises.
In the meantime, Stephen hopes that the fans will continue to raid their piggy banks to keep him and his fellow Boyz in Clearasil.
"Ronan, Mikey and myself have our own albums on the way, so we hope you, the fans, will stick with us," he hinted. "We’re all coming out with different stuff to give you lots of choice," he said tantalizingly.
Stephen also revealed after he "came out" about being gay, people in Ireland were very supportive.
"I have received nothing but good will," he said. People in the street come over and shake my hand and say, ‘Fair play to ya.’ It means so much to me."
Mikey Graham also put his two cents into the column this week, although he seems just a tad defensive.
"I’d be very flattered if you supported me in my solo work when my album is released later this year. I’m planning to work very hard on it," he added.
But Mikey’s also a realist.
"I know that nothing is guaranteed in this business," he continued. It could well fall flat on its backside.
"If only 20 people turn up at my shows, I’ll be happy that those 20 people have come to see me," he insisted. Well, yes, Mikey, but that wouldn’t make the promoters very happy, would it? Better start thinking positive.
"But, having said that," he added hastily, "I’d love to reach the stage where I’m playing arenas and even stadia." Oy, that fabulous Irish educational system – Mikey says stadia, we’d have said stadiums. Which just goes to show that if the album sinks into obscurity, Mr. Graham could always teach English.
The quiet woman
We couldn’t help wondering why last year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshal, actress Maureen O’Hara, wasn’t around to hand over the sash to this year’s G.M., Dr. Kevin Cahill. Sure, isn’t it traditional for the previous year’s honoree to be on hand for the festivities.
Could it have anything to do with the fact that O’Hara was not on the Parade Committee’s list of the top 20 grand marshals of the century? As probably the biggest star in the bunch and one of only three women to have led the march in its 200-plus-year history, how could she not have made the list? Sure, ’tis a puzzlement.