I remember as a kid in the 1970s going to Ballyheigue and Ballybunion, and being amazed at meeting my cousins there. Obviously my mother and her sister had arranged it. A beach in Kerry and it felt like you could be anywhere in the world.
Growing up in Limerick there was no beaches. Limerick’s beach, as such, would be seen as Kilkee. Limerick people would say: “You’d meet your back door in Kilkee.”
We had a dinghy for the beach. My father used to blow it up. He must have had a foot pump and it took forever. He’d drag the five children along in the dinghy, walking along in the water, pulling it along by a rope.
I went to a couple of the féiles — the Trips to Tipp in Thurles. We camped. Myself and my girlfriend had a two-man tent. One of the lads was meant to provide a tent for our friends. He brought a rain-cover thing — like someone would wear on sentry duty — and a broom handle.
He thought the three of them were going to sleep under that — as a three-man tent. You couldn’t even lie down under it — it had no floor covering. Nothing glamping about it. There was no toilet facilities. There was a field near the campsite.
In the morning, you’d look in and the grass was high enough that girls, about 50 of them, could squat down and pee. From looking in at the side, all you would see was the heads and shoulders of the girls. It looked like a field that they were growing girls in.
I remember you’d be walking into the venue and you’d see bands walking alongside you as well. I remember seeing That Petrol Emotion walking around and Jerry Fish. I remember The Mock Turtles.
You know that song, ‘Can you Dig It?’ Their lead singer, funnily enough, is Steve Coogan’s brother, Martin Coogan. The place went mental for them. I used to joke that they’re the most successful tribute band, even more successful than The Turtles.
Summertime now is festival time in comedy. You’d be doing festivals like Electric Picnic. There was a couple of years where they’d bring staff over from the UK. I don’t know from where — from T in the Park or somewhere.
There’d be Scottish people on the doors. There was no blagging your way in with them. It would take forever to get through. With an Irish person you could talk them around. You could spoof your way somehow. But they just didn’t care: “No, I don’t care who you are. You can’t come through this gate.”
And there’s Kilkenny Cat Laughs. It’s almost like an AGM for comics where you’d all meet up and talk about what you’ve been up to. There’s the old joke in comedy: “Did you hear so-and-so got a TV series?” “No.” “Did you hear he’s going to be in a film?” “No.” “Did you hear he died on his arse the other night in Castlebar?” “Oh, yeah. I heard about that.”