Language failed Tommy Tiernan while he was talking to Marty Morrissey on St Patrick’s morning. This hitherto-unknown event wasn’t something the comedian/actor/chat show host was too worried about, though. Tommy was describing his faith, and it’s a concept which he believes defies language. And, just to prove his point, he went on to fail to get to verbal grips with what is, in fairness, a particularly vague aspect of the human experience. Tiernan told Marty that he is a regular mass-goer.
“Whenever I bump into mass, I go. I’m on the road a good bit. I don’t really get the opportunity to go to church in Galway, but when I’m on the road, absolutely, yeah.”
And despite not being allowed to shake hands anymore, Tommy is of the opinion that mass is one of the few places left where serious things get discussed.
“A lot of the time culture can be a bit kind of frivolous and light, or else overly dramatic and kind of alarmist. So I love going to mass, love it.”
When the conversation turned to St Patrick’s Day, Tommy confessed that the Irish national holiday is not something he’s worked out yet.
“It’s such a strange festival, St Patrick’s Day, I still haven’t got a grip on it. I have a grip on Lent, but I still don’t fully understand St Patrick’s Day.”
The idea, he told Marty, of the day and the execution are two very different things. The day celebrates the arrival of Christianity to Ireland. And how do we celebrate that fact?
“The way we cope with the news that Christ died for our sins on the cross and that a Welshman told us is by getting drunk.”
Marty asked how Tommy’s children cope with his fame. Needless to say, the kids don’t think their dad is funny – do kids ever? But the process of acclimatisation to their dad’s level of notoriety is something Tommy’s been able to see happening many times and he’s become familiar with it at this stage:
“It usually starts around 5… ‘How come other people know my dad?’ ”
Despite it being his main job, Tommy Tiernan isn’t keen on his children seeing his stand-up shows, even his older children (his eldest is 24).
“My stand-up is so wild and adult-orientated… I curse and I rant and I rave and I talk about sex and drink, you know. They’re not the kind of things you want to see your dad talk about.”
Tommy’s chat show and the marvellous Derry Girls are safe enough, though, thank goodness.
There’s much more from Tommy Tiernan in the full chat with Marty, including tales from his youth, the souring of Twitter and his aspirations to be a priest – and you can listen to it all here.
Niall Ó Sioradáin
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