Top comedian Brendan Grace excited to bring his latest one-man show to Thurles

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Brendan Grace

Brendan Grace

Best known for his Bottler character to a whole generation of Irish audiences, he promises that Bottler, the quintessential Dublin schoolkid is still very much part of his repertoire. 

Bottler became a phenomenon and Brendan was even asked to use him in various advertising campaigns. How many can remember Bottler and his Free a Nipper TV advertising campaign for Maxol? How many people out there still have a Nipper, the rabbit-like glove puppet that had a carrot and squeaked? Bottler later went on to promote road safety for children under the Green Cross Code.

"Bottler is still the background to the shows," says Brendan. "He is a relic of auld decency."

So what can the audience expect when he plays the Anner Hotel next January 24?

"A great laugh, a few singalong songs and a great atmosphere," says Brendan. "A crowd of people can create a great atmosphere. It's great business to be in and it's great to see people getting happy. It's a privilege and it is very uplifting. It is a tonic."

He has peformed in the Anner before, and describes the atmoshpere there as "lovely".

"Thurles crowds are great. I am really looking forward to it," he told the Tipperary Star.

And, he reveals, he is licking his lips at the thought of nothing better than fish and chips in the Mona Lisa on Liberty Square after the show.

"Achilles Orlandi originally ran a shop in Dublin for years," reveals Brendan.

He knows the Thurles area well and mentions his links with Mary Hanna, who runs the curtain shop on Croke Street, as well as The Ragg, which is describes as one of the best venues in Ireland. "It is one of my favourite venues," he says, recalling its associations with the late John Kennedy.

Nowadays, Brendan is concentrating on smaller venues only. And having spent the past 46 years on he road, he has no intention of retiring. And while on the road, he says, he has the best driver in Ireland, his wife, Eileen, whom he married 44 years ago.

His current extensive countrywide tour is bringing him to along every highway and byway around Ireland.

"I'm on tour before I head back to the States," he says. Brendan divides his time between Florida and Ballina, where he has been based for a long number of years.

"I always say I live in Ballina, not Killaloe. It is a fabulous place and unspoilt," he says.

Speaking of Ballina, Brendan, a keen golfer, recalls another famous local inhabitant, the late Christy O'Connor Junior, who settled in Derrycastle.

"Christy was one of my best friends. I still can't believe he is gone. He was so full of beautiful life," says Brendan.

LIke many before him, Brendan did not set out to be a comedian. He left  school at the age of 13 to begin working, and at 18, formed the band The Gingermen a folk group rather than a showband in what was the showband era of the 1960s.

During a gig one night, the band found themselves two members short and Brendan was thrown out on to the stage to humour the crowd. He has never looked back, selling out venues around the world. Brendan has appeared on stage with the likes of Frank SInatra and John Denver.

His hit songs include Combine Harvester, which topped the charts in Ireland in 1975, and became a UK number one hit for The Wurzels in 1976), and The Dutchman.

Brendan has also apeared on the big and small screen, starring in the German / Irish movie Moondance in 1995, and in 1996, in the Father Ted episode New Jack City as Father Fintan Stack. In 2007, he appeared as Big Sean in Killinaskully, and in 2015.

Mention of Killinaskully, and Brendan reveals that he hopes to be joined by "an up and coming comedian call Pat Shortt" at his Thurles gig.

Brendan Grace plays the Anner Hotel on Wednesday, January 24, 2018. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster or from the hotel. For other dates see www.brendangrace.com