Paschal O’Grady-80 years young

first_imgPASCHAL O’Grady returned to centre stage last weekend – for a surprise 80th birthday party, when joined by family, friends, former showbusiness people and, as he joked, gate crashers.“Had I known this was planned, I wouldn’t have darkened Fennessy’s front door… was never accustomed to such a big audience, you know,” teased Paschal, who, with his sidekick, Tom O’Donnell, once packed 4,000 into Dublin’s old Theatre Royal.Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up “That was the night they officially closed the place down,” recalled the multitalented Limerickman,The now legendary Tom & Paschal’s Christmas Crackers, started life at St John’s Temperance Hall and the Mechanic’s Institute, and went on to establish new Limerick records with five and six week annual runs at Jack Bourke’s City Theatre.From there, to New York’s Carnegie Hall and London’s Royal Albert Hall, venues where they had the distinction of topping the bill.What’s more, they were the first Irish comedians to appear on RTE television, on opening night, New Year’s Eve, all of 50 years ago.  When reminded of such momentous occasions, Paschal got out his pocket map and pointed to such villages and towns as Cappamore, Cappawhite, Ballingarry, Newcastle West, Croom, etc.- “that was where we made our real money!”.Internationally known, it was often said of Tom & Paschal that they roofed half the churches and schools of Ireland.“Priests, nuns and even bishops were on to us to headline fund-raising events…and we were delighted to oblige. We were always happiest in the company of our own people. We were never in the business for personal financial gain. It was for fun, and to give enjoyment to entire families, in what were the hard-pressed 1950s and 60s.“We also raised considerable amounts for GAA clubs and other sporting bodies. That was our heartland”.Paschal returned to the days when they shared stage time with Chubby Checker, Val Doonican and the late Bridie Gallagher, to name just a few.He remembered with fondness the late Eamon O’Connor, Basil Collinson and Larry Kennedy, ever presents in Christmas Crackers.There to celebrate his 80th were some cast members of yesteryear, Joe Neiland and Gerry O’Brien, with dancer Anthony Nolan due to put in an appearance.Spotted at the party were noted soccer personality Seamus Jackson, Tom English, manager of the Savoy in the 50s and 60s, jeweller, JJ Kenneally, Jack Ormston, Jackie Brown and Councillor Maria Byrne.Unfortunately, Tom O’Donnell was unable to attend because of a recent illness.Paschal’s wife, Marie, daughter Eukaria and son Emanuel, spent weeks making preparations for the big event –“and I didn’t know a word about it until I walked in the door tonight,” shrugged Paschal. “I was told we were going for a quiet drink”.The night would not have been complete without clips from an assortment of Christmas Crackers shows, and which like in the days of the City Theatre, elicited gaels of laughter. Email Advertisement Facebook WhatsApp NewsLocal NewsPaschal O’Grady-80 years youngBy admin – January 20, 2012 2399 center_img Previous articleFuneral undertaker charged with illegally exhuming bodyNext articleDecision on Shannon’s future this year – Minister admin Twitter Linkedin Printlast_img read more

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