Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: ‘What does Patrick Kielty have that I don’t?’ asks the old dear

There’s no mystery as to why they chose Kielty for the Late Late. He’s not 76 years old.

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The old dear knocks back her fourth Tanqueray Mortini and goes, “I mean to say, what does this Patrick Kielty person have that I don’t, Ross?”

“Well, for one thing,” I go, “the Late Late gig.”

She’s in no mood to laugh about it. She’s got so much silicone in her lips that she can’t laugh anyway.

She’s like, “I did a wonderful interview.”


I’m there, “I’m sure you did.”

“They said it was fascinating to talk to me.”

“That’s just something you say, isn’t it? Like when I say that I admire La Rochelle for what they’ve managed to do as a small club competing on the big stage. What I really mean is, you know, fock them.”

She turns to the borman and goes, “I’ll have another one of these. Ross, do you want one?”

I’m there, “No, because someone is going to have to drive you home and that someone is probably going to be me.”

She goes, “I’d be interested in knowing what criteria they used to pick him ahead of me. I wonder could Hennessy issue some sort of High Court proceedings for discovery.”

“Look,” I go, “there’s no mystery as to why they chose Patrick Kielty and not you. He’s not 76 years old. He’s a natural blond and his bodily organs didn’t come from a black morket doctor in Bogotá. Are you actually serious? Did you, like, genuinely believe that they were going to give it to you?”

She exhales sadly and all the life seems to drain out of her body, like slop being poured from a bucket.

“Not really,” she goes, “no,” and she seems so completely and utterly defeated that I feel very nearly sorry for the woman? “Let’s face it, Ross, my days as an Irish media personality are finished.”

I wasn’t aware that they’d even storted but I decide to let it go. You’d have to with the form she’s in.

My phone rings. Yeah, no, it’s the old man. I answer it. I’m like, “I found her. She’s in the golf club. No, she’s not playing a round. She’s focking drinking herself –,” but then I look at her and I actually do feel sorry for her. “Sorry – yeah, no – she’s hitting a few balls, just working out her frustrations. I’ll drop her home when she’s finished. Yeah, no, I’ll mention that to her.”

I hang up on the dude.

I’m there, “He’s worried about you. He said that he’s prepared to put up a million yoyos for a fighting fund if you wanted Hennessy to drag this thing through the various courts.”

She shakes her head. She goes, “He wants me to retire, Ross. He told me that this should be a time of life for reflection, when I look back with pleasure on all of the things that I’ve achieved.”

I’m there, “Right. And what specifically are those things – your achievements, I mean? And I’m not being a dick here.”

“My books.”

“Oh, we’re counting those, are we?”

“My cookery programme. FO’CK Cooking.”

“Which lasted, what, three months?”

“Then all of my charity and advocacy work.”

“Yeah, no, that’s quite a lifetime of achievement alright.”

Then, totally out of left field, this woman, who’s never paid me a compliment in my life, goes, “You know, I envy you, Ross.”

I’m there, “Envy me? In terms of?”

She goes, “You’ve never had any ambition, have you?”

I’m there, “Er, what about all those Cease and Desist letters from Eddie O’Sullivan and Declan Kidney? They wrote themselves, did they?”

“What I’m saying is that it was clear very early on that you weren’t going to make it.”

“Shows how much you know about rugby. Fock-all, if you’re looking for me to put a figure on it.”

“And that allowed you to focus on other things – like being a good husband.”

I laugh because I just presume she’s being a wagon.

She goes, “You have been a good husband, Ross.”

I’m there, “I suppose I have been. In between all the times that Sorcha focked me out for cheating on her. I’ve done okay. And that’s not me patting myself on the back.”

“And you’re a wonderful father to, em, how many children do you have now?”

“Hennessy’s probably the only one who can answer that question. Officially, though, five. And again, yeah, I have to accept that I’ve been an amazing, amazing father.”

“Well, that might not have been the case if you’d been any good at rugby.”

“Again, I’d prefer to listen to the views of people like Matt Williams and Tony Ward, who said I could have been one of Ireland’s all-time greats if I hadn’t splashed it all against the porcelain wall in Kiely’s of Donnybrook Town.”

“But I look at you with your children and I think, that’s the kind of parent I could have been to Ross if I hadn’t heeded my calling to help those less fortunate than ourselves in the world. That’s why I say that I envy you.”

Ross, you and I have far more in common than either of us would ever like to admit. Two losers with dreams that are too big for us

“Not for one second has any of this sounded like a compliment – but I’m still going to accept it.”

She looks at me, her eyes spinning like pinwheels. She goes, “Old age. It creeps up on you very fast, Ross.”

I’m there, “Especially when you’ve been lopping two decades off your life since the 1980s.”

“I was naive to think they’d give me the Late Late Show, wasn’t I?”

“Focking deluded is probably a better way to describe it?”

“I suppose it’s a bit like you thinking you’re going to be a rugby coach one day.”

“Well, I actually am going to be a rugby coach? I coached the Castlerock College girls’ team this year, bear in mind. Even though they turned out to be shit, it’s only the stort of things for me. I’ve got massive, massive plans. I’m looking at Ronan O’Gara and I’m thinking, that’s going to be me in, like, 10 years from now.”

She’s like, “Do you know who you sounded like there?”

I’m there, “Who?”

She goes, “Me,” and then she does manage to smile. The silicon must be bedding in. “Ross, you and I have far more in common than either of us would ever like to admit. Two losers with dreams that are too big for us. Will you have a drink with your mother?”

And I’m like, “Yeah, no, why not? You’ve completely depressed me now. The old man can drop us home.”

Ross O'Carroll-Kelly

Ross O'Carroll-Kelly

Ross O’Carroll-Kelly was captain of the Castlerock College team that won the Leinster Schools Senior Cup in 1999. It’s rare that a day goes by when he doesn’t mention it