STUDENTS at IT Tralee came out in their hundreds last Thursday to greet BBC star and chat show icon Graham Norton who visited Tralee to meet two students whose internet Pulp Fiction skit he helped turn into a viral smash hit.
The Cork-born comic was invited ITT to present the inaugural Graham Norton Creativity award to fourth-year Music Technology students Eoin O'Leary (25) from Oakpark, Tralee, and David Williams (25) from Headford, Killarney.
The video saw the pair dubbing over the film's dialogue giving both John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson's cult favourite hitmen an hilarious Kerry twang as they discuss the vagaries of beer, big macs, whoppers and mayonaise soaked chips.
While the video spread quickly via YouTube its popularity exploded just a few weeks later when Norton showed the clip to the film's director Quentin Tarantino during an interview on his primetime Friday night BBC chatshow.
The video's success inspired ITT staff to create a new annual award for creative media students which they named after Graham Norton who was invited to present the award during the Summer.
That invitation was made by ITT Creative Media and COmputing head Mary Lucey who made contact with Graham Norton with the help of another Tralee man Shane O'Connor who works with BBC Radio.
On Thursday, just four days after accepting the invitation, Norton arrived at ITT to meet Eoin and David and to present them with their award, a stunning trophy made in a matter of days by local artist Rebecca Wall.
His visit prompted a frenzy of excitement at the college with hundreds of students packing the college halls and swarming around the star on his arrival.
Norton, one of British TV's biggest stars and among the highest paid broadcasters in the UK, clearly enjoyed the visit, happily stopping to chat with many of the hundreds of students (and it must be said a significant number of senior college staff) who surrounded him seeking snapshots and photographs.
Norton, who drove himself to the college and arrived alone and bang on schedule, said he was delighted to have been invited to visit the college and thoroughly enjoyed his visit.
"It was an amazing welcome," Norton said.
"Just a few minutes ago I was driving along that road, one quick turn later and I'm inside a huge building full of lovely, screaming people. I shall turn right more often," he joked.
After receiving their award at a ceremony attended by over 300 students in a jam packed conference room, Eoin and David said the clip's broadcast on Norton's show had changed their lives.
"This is probably the biggest day ever in the college, it's huge honour to get this award and thanks to Graham for coming here," said David Williams.
Eoin said that when the clip was initially broadcast on Norton's show he had actually missed it as he was temporarily indisposed.
"I'd heard rumours that it might be on the programme but when it was shown I didn't see it because I was in the bathroom. My mother came running up the stairs and was battering down the door telling me to come downstairs and watch it," he said.
"It's changed everything for me. It's strange. Now when I meet a friend I haven't seen for a while, the first thing they say to me isn't 'how's it going?' or 'what have you been doing?' but 'Royale with Cheese' or something else from the clip," said Eoin.
During his visit the TV star also cut the ribbon on the college's new digital media centre, a fully kitted-out television studio the cost of which was sponsored by Dairymaster.