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Tuesday 17 September 2019

'People think I'm genuinely stupid' - Father Ted star Ardal O'Hanlon 'struggled to escape' Dougal McGuire role

Ardal O’Hanlon does not believe normal people can become accustomed to stardom (Yui Mok/PA)
Ardal O’Hanlon does not believe normal people can become accustomed to stardom (Yui Mok/PA)

Aoife Walsh

Actor Ardal O'Hanlon has said some fans mistake him as being "genuinely stupid" after his three-year-long Father Ted role.

While sharing an anecdote about a gaffe he made after getting off a flight from Dublin Airport, the 53-year-old star said he "struggled" to disassociate himself with his role as Dougal McGuire.

"I've struggled to escape the Dougal character over the years, and a couple of years ago I remember I was in this taxi and I arrived at Dublin Airport and I asked the taxi driver to take me home. I gave him an address, I didn't just assume he knew where I lived," he joked.

"He just wanted to talk about Father Ted, and he was kind of looking at me with pity and people think I'm genuinely very stupid. And he asked me 'Do you remember being in it?'

Ardal O’Hanlon played the hapless Father Dougal in the beloved show (Ian West/PA)
Ardal O’Hanlon played the hapless Father Dougal in the beloved show (Ian West/PA)

"So I'm trying to change the subject to sports or politics or whatever and using big words to try and impress him," he told RTÉ's Ryan Tubridy Show.

"I was about 20 minutes into the journey home and I suddenly remembered that I actually have a car and I parked it in Dublin Airport three days previously. I just couldn't tell him so I actually let him take me home and as soon as I was home I called another taxi and I went back to the airport!"

He also opened up about his relationship with his Fianna Fáil politician father Rory O'Hanlon, explaining that he "really admired him", but began to have different views to him after moving away to college.

"I always admired him, I admired his work ethic was the big thing when I was growing up. I couldn't understand it why someone would want to pound the pavements hour after hour, day in day out, week in week out. He was an incredibly hardworking rural Irish politician who had left no stone unturned, wanted to help people, loved his country more than anyone else - still does.

"When I was a kid and he got elected first, it was just very exciting. Elections were really exciting in those days.

"Crowds used to come to listen to politicians speak at the back of trucks and things after mass and that kind of stuff so yeah, there was a tremendous excitement that your father was involved and this was a cool thing I suppose.

Go on, go on: Ardal O’Hanlon, Dermot Morgan, Pauline McLynn and Frank Kelly immortalised the denizens of Craggy Island
Go on, go on: Ardal O’Hanlon, Dermot Morgan, Pauline McLynn and Frank Kelly immortalised the denizens of Craggy Island

The actor said that when he went to college his "head was turned" on social issues such as "divorce referendum, abortion referendum, and all those sort of things."

He said that although his family are "very conservative people" and sometimes have "very heated debates" but still have a good relationship.

"I went to England, I scarpered fairly soon after I started comedy," he said.

"It was uncomfortable for him, it was uncomfortable for me, it would of been very uncomfortable for a government minister type to have a son being a stand-up comedian shooting his mouth off and just being really incredibly stupid about a lot of things, then it would have been really awkward for me to have credibility as a comedian living in somewhere like a small side of Dublin where people would pick up on that and maybe make sport out of.

"And anyway, there was no comedy scene in Ireland so I was always going to go to London and try and find my way as a comedian. It was a relief to get away and not to have that constant association," he said.

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