Graham quizzes locals at event

BBC star Graham Norton says the diaspora is a valuable asset for the country, but has ruled out the prospect of returning to Ireland permanently — for now, at least.

Graham quizzes locals at event

Norton was the star attraction in Ahakista, West Cork, last night, where he acted as compere at a table quiz for his local community festival.

When asked about the prospect of moving back, he said: “Never say never, but not at the moment. Life is good, I’m liking the BBC, it’s all working out quite well.” He said he wasn’t interested in replacing Pat Kenny at RTÉ but wished his fellow broadcaster well on his move to Newstalk.

However, he said the Irish diaspora is a valuable resource that should be utilised, saying encouraging people to spend their money here was no bad thing.

“There can’t be anything wrong with people coming home and spending their money here, sure that’s great. And if they don’t sure isn’t it nice that some people get something to talk about out of it,” he said.

“When times are hard you have to look at what you have and Ireland has an amazing resource in the number of Irish people abroad so you might as well try and milk it. Whether it works or not is another question but it seems to be busy this year and that’s the weather too, it’s all coming together which is great.”

Earlier, Norton stepped out of a Toyota Yaris dressed in blue jeans and a blue jacket and stepped into packed Arundels pub where he enjoyed a bit of banter at the bar while ordering a glass of white wine.

As quiz fans donned bright garlands for the Hawaiian-themed Ahakista Regatta Festival, Norton posed for pictures and chatted with delighted members of the Keleghan family, who organise their own Gathering on the Sheep’s Head peninsula ever year. They said Norton’s razor sharp wit helps them “get through the winter”.

Graham, who returns to his summer holiday home, Ahakista House, overlooking Dunmanus Bay every year, said his time in West Cork is his favourite time of the year. Locals are respectful of his privacy.

“I only got home a few days ago so I’m here for the next few months. I come here every year so most people who were ever going to say hello have said hello,” he said.

Organisers received overwhelming demand for last night’s sold out table quiz, which took place in a marquee next to the pub.

“Graham’s very much involved in things when he’s around, he’d be in Bantry and Schull helping promote different events. But his holiday time is his own and people respect that too,” said Ahakista festival co-chairperson Michelle O’Brien.

Norton helped the local committee by hosting a fashion show fundraiser for the local church last year.

“We’ve been in touch with him in previous years. We sent off an email and it went from there,” she said.

Sixty tables of four were sold at €40 per table with the proceeds going to service the local community and help promote tourism in the area. The festival continues over the weekend with a children’s Hawaiian party and Sunday’s Hawaiian-themed raft race.

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