7th September, 2000
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
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
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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