The BBC star was accorded an enthusiastic reception by upwards of 400 students at the Institute of Technology in Tralee, where he presented the inaugural Graham Norton Creativity Award to two fourth-year students who produced an internet sensation.
David Williams and Eoin O’Leary made a video, Pulp Fiction Kerry Shtyle, which has been watched over 700,000 times on YouTube since appearing on Norton’s show.
The chat show host drove up to the IT North Campus in a black 4x4 Lexus where he was welcomed by the award recipients and Mary Lucey, head of the institute’s department of creative media and computing.
With a cup of coffee in one hand, he strolled into a hall packed with hundreds of exited students and staff who burst into spontaneous applause.
Ms Lucey recalled how the institute was given a huge lift when the video, dubbing Kerry accents over widely-known Hollywood movie scenes, was used on Norton’s show, even impressing film director Quentin Tarantino who was a guest.
“We found an email trail to Graham, who was reluctant initially, but he agreed to show the video with a little persuasion.”
He was contacted through Tralee man Shane O’Connor, who works with BBC Live Radio.
Eoin, from Oakpark, Tralee, had his fellow students in stitches when he revealed he was sitting on the toilet at home the night the video was on the show. “My mother came and started banging on the door, telling me, ‘come down, come down’,” he said.
David, from Headford, Killarney, whose uncle John Williams was a prominent RTÉ producer, said the entire class had an input into the video.
Silence fell on the room when Norton was called to speak and he thanked everyone for an “amazing welcome” before going on to say it took lots of luck to get the video on his show. There were emails, tweets, not to mention issues such as whether he, or his producer, liked it. “It [the video] was a great idea, plus a lot of luck, plus excellence. It was really well done — the use of technology in conjunction with creativity to make the idea as good as possible,” said Norton.
Describing himself as a failed actor, he told the assembled students they might each be choosing one career path, but all would not get what they wanted and they should not be too focused on one thing.
“There are different sorts of success. When my own class reunited after 20 years, we found that many people had been successes in different fields. For one woman with a serious illness, just being there was a success,” he said.
While in the college, he opened a new TV studio, sponsored by entrepreneur Edmund Harty, of Dairymaster, Causeway, Co Kerry.
The Norton award is to be presented annually at IT Tralee, hopefully by the man himself.