After a raucous appearance at the Listowel Writer’s Week festival last month, Norton popped up in Munster once again last night, this time supporting the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry — an event that has gone from strength to strength in recent years and, together with two other large festivals in the area, is worth more than €2mn to the local economy.
As the top billing in this year’s already impressive line-up, Norton read excerpts of his memoir, The Life and Loves of a He-Devil, to the lucky few who managed to secure tickets — the event sold out within days of it being announced.
Norton was introduced by Paul Colton, the Church of Ireland’s Bishop of Cork, Cloyne, and Ross, who got the ball rolling with some questions about his book.
The tome, Norton’s second memoir, focuses on the Bandon native’s life and times to date — from his childhood in West Cork to his role as Fr Noel Furlong in Father Ted, his stand-up comedy career, and his breakthrough into TV chat shows.
In it, he admits he never had a huge love for Ireland when he was growing up here, though he has experienced a renewed appreciation for the country and regularly returns to take part in local events. He has twice opened new buildings at Bandon Grammar School and is the host of an annual table quiz at Ahakista.
Bishop Colton admitted he was nervous in advance of the event, considering Norton himself is such an eminent interviewer, but was delighted to take part in “such a fantastic festival”.
“It’s good to be a bit nervous before these things, but he might be a bit nervous too, being interviewed by a bishop! I don’t know how long it has been since his last confession,” he joked.
“I have actually met Graham a few times before though. My wife’s friend is good friends with Graham so whenever we went to one of her parties or anything, he’d be there. But, to be honest, I actually meet his mother more than I meet him. She’s a lovely woman.”
Of course, this is not the first time Bishop Colton has rubbed shoulders with A-list celebrities — he famously officiated the wedding of David and Victoria Beckham in Dublin 16 years ago, an act that earned him the nickname ‘Purple Spice’.
“I was in Dublin at the time,” he said. “They were looking to get married in Ireland, in Dublin, and they chose a place that just happened to be in my parish, that’s all! I was just in the right place at the right time. I keep in touch with them on and off, mainly just to wish them happy anniversary, that kind of thing. No more or no less than any of the couples I would have married.
“I think it’s important to just treat everybody the same, like ordinary, decent people. Whether someone is famous or not, they’re all the same in my book. We’re all just people at the end of the day.”
Graham Norton’s new memoir, The Life and Loves of a He-Devil, is available in bookshops now.