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7th September, 2000
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THE AMAZING JOE DOLAN

The air of anticipation in the Estuary Room at the Rochestown Park Hotel was electric. The buzz of excitement was everywhere. As Ray Dolan finished his very entertaining warm up act only a few seemed to notice. Then the band evolved on stage, one didn't see them walk on, they just arrived, a few minor adjustments and they were ready. Above the sea of chatter, the sound of moving bodies and the occasional clink of a glass no one heard the count in. Then it exploded with the intro to "Good Lookin' Woman", and amidst a crescendo of sound and light in an angelic white suite Joe Dolan bounced on stage, "Oh me Oh my, you make me sigh you're such a Good Looking' Woman ", the audience went wild, hundreds of voices joined in the chorus, hands waving all over the place, bodies moving in all directions, this was Joe Dolan at his magical best and the crowd were loving it and Joe was smiling from ear to ear, radiating a 'feel good' feeling to every person in the room. Joe was beaming, I watched fascinated by the reaction. It suddenly struck me, this was more than just an act, Joe Dolan was loving it too, the man was glowing from the inside. I'd bet any money that at that precise moment there was nowhere in the Universe that Joe would rather be other than exactly where he was. He loves his audience and they make him the happiest man on earth.

Twenty minutes previously, on my way to talk to Joe Dolan I was going up the stairs to the Estuary Room they were two excited women in front of me " I'm going to throw my knickers on the stage " said one to the other. The other laughed and they both glanced up to see Bishop Buckley smiling down at them. Admittedly one doesn't expect to see His Grace at a Joe Dolan show but I can think of no reason why he shouldn't be there.

Joe's road manager Dennis met me at the top of the stairs and as we walked down the corridor towards Joe's room I couldn't help but thinking, "What was I doing here?" Why did Michael pick this week to take off and leave me to do the interview? I've never interviewed anybody in my life. I had no idea where to start and now I was going to meet the top entertainer in the country, maybe I should just turnaround and run. We got to the door and Dennis asked me to wait while he checked with Joe. Dennis emerged and said Joe would be with me in a minute then he disappeared. I stood there a nervous wreck.

The door opened and Joe Dolan stuck his head out and said "Hiya, come on in ". He must have been able to read my feelings because he started talking straight away. "We love being in Cork" he said "The people in Cork are great, we always get a kick out of being here". I noticed he said "We" and not "I", there are no airs and graces about this man, and if you met him in a pub for a drink you'd probably describe him as "one of our own". Responding to Joe's opening I said " Sure you're like a God around Cork, even the Bishop is here". He laughed, "Nice man… I'll tell you a great story but don't print it, (I promised Joe I wouldn't print it, how could I, I'm not a printer), it happened here one night with the Bishop. Dennis the lad that brought you up was at the door when the Bishop arrived, and Dennis didn't know anything about the Bishop arriving, and the Bishop stood there talking to Dennis. The Bishop had all the Bishop's gear on him and Dennis assumed he was some sort of a drag act. So when the Bishop said to Dennis "What will I do here?" Dennis replied "Just go away and do your own thing".

Dennis was totally mortified when he found out the truth, but he has never been able to live it down".
I showed Joe the 'The Douglas Weekly', "This is a cool Magazine" he said, " Bye the way how is Sean Lucey (Dixies)?" I told him "Sean is fine, but he has to be careful, he had a bypass you know". "Had he now ?" said Joe, "We have one of those in Mullingar as well" he quipped. He went on " Do you remember the ECO Warriors up in Wicklow, one of them died in Mountjoy not so long ago, he was three years waiting for a bypass”

It had never dawned on me, until this moment that Joe Dolan has the wit and the ability to be a comedian and a good one at that. Joe went back to talking about Cork. " The Jack Lynch Tunnel " he was saying " Is an extraordinary piece of architecture or should I say engineering, it's absolutely fabulous. It really is and must be an absolute boom to Cork, alleviating the traffic and all that sort of stuff. They should have done that id Dublin, they're cat-farting about with trams and things and this that and the other, and building subways which they're not doing. I thought at one point if they built a tunnel from the Southside right under Dublin Bay and across to the Northern Road, every truck such as those going to Cork would be taken out of the traffic, if only they had a tunnel like that. I think the Jack Lynch Tunnel is fantastic idea, it was built long, long after it's time, but the thing is it's there and that's the main thing. I like it because it's convenient for me, if I'm coming from Dublin or Waterford it saves a lot of time, as I don't have to go through the Cork City. As long as they don't put TollBooths on it. They're at it in Dublin. Places like the East Link. They claim they are charging for a bridge that was built over the Liffey. They tried to charge at the other end as well but they were stopped pretty quickly. I don't mind them charging for bridges like on the N50, because they did have to build a bridge, but they made it too narrow. Two Lanes, four lanes of traffic on to a two lane bridge. Now they have to build a second bridge because the first one isn't wide enough. The trouble is most of these highways are built with EU money so I don't see how they can put a charge on them. In England there are hardly any Tool Booths. The is one in Carlisle and one at the Severn Bridge and as far as I know that's all, and their roads are like carpets. We're at least ten years behind.”

Joe Dolan certainly has an opinion about Irish Roads and no wonder. He has spent his entire life driving on them. Perhaps the powers that be should have a little chat with Joe about building roads he could undoubtedly offer them some good advice.

We got to talking about computers and Joe said he doesn't even know how to switch one on. He often thought about getting one but his brother has said "It'll be another thing in the house just thrown in a corner after a week. You'd be as well off to get a Jumbo Jet and put it in the back garden, you'd get as much use out of that as you would out of a computer". So much for brotherly love. Computer talk led to computer games and computer games led to computer golf and that brought us to the real thing.

"I play golf extensively," said Joe. I asked him if he would like to do a golf classic in Cork after explaining to him about Joe Mac doing one in New York for St. Raphael's Centre in Youghal. Joe said he would love to but he is already over committed. Next Monday he is doing one in Dublin for St Luke's Hospital. This is the second year for St. Luke's. Before that it was for the Mater Hospital when they needed some equipment in a hurry. Last year Peter Mendelson came to collect a cheque for 50,000, which Joe had raised through his golf for 'co-operation Ireland'. Now there's a side to Joe Dolan we hear nothing about. Somehow I didn't know what to say. I was amazed.

A knock at the door " You're on Joe" and that was it. Jer. O'Regan was there to escort Joe to the stage. "Goodbye Joe and thank you", I muttered. "It was nice talking to you", said Joe. Then he was gone. The audience was waiting and I was going in to enjoy the show. And believe me there's no show like a Joe Show.


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