The 'dame' with 50 pantos behind him
HE has been listening to the refrain "he's behind you" for more than half a century.
Declan Mangan has been the man – albeit in drag – behind the annual Killorglin pantomime since he was a boy of 14.
This year – as he turns 69 –he will tread the boards, starring as the dame once again, in the annual pantomime in the Co Kerry town for a record 50th time.
But as to whether Declan is the country's longest serving dame, some argue "oh yes he is" while others insist "oh no he isn't".
"I was only 14 when it started in 1958. They were putting on 'Snow White and the Seven Cromane Men' and they were short of someone to play the witch," he recalls.
"My father John was the secretary of the CYMS, which had just been built, and they were putting on a panto as a fundraiser."
He returned the following year in 'Ali Baba' and two years later for 'Simple Simon' before the panto became an annual fixture in 1965. Declan has been the dame every year since.
Not only does he star in the panto, he also writes, directs and produces the show.
And dressing in women's clothing for over 50 years you'd expect he has picked up a few tips.
"When you have natural beauty like myself everything else just fits naturally," he says.
This year's panto 'Mother Goose' will run in the CYMS in Killorglin from January 20 to 27 and at the INEC in Killarney on February 10.