Playwright Bernard Farrell recalls his father meeting Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in Dun Laoghaire.
Growing up in Sandycove in Dublin, Bernard Farrell's childhood had plenty of storytelling. His mother told stories of life growing up in rural Ireland while his father spoke of the famous people he spotted while working at the mail boat pier in Dun Laoghaire. These included the hangman Albert Pierrepoint, Irish soprano Margaret Burke Sheridan, James Cagney, James Mason, and world boxing champion Gene Tuney.
However of all of his father's encounters Bernard's favourite story was the day his father met comedy duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.
Of all my father's stories, the one we wanted to hear over and over again was the day he met and had a conversation with the famous comedy team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.
One of Bernard's earliest recollections was being taken to the local cinema, the Astoria in Glasthule, to see a Laurel and Hardy film and learning dialogue from the funniest scenes. It was a cause of great excitement in the Farrell house when Bernard's father returned from work one day telling them that he had seen Laurel and Hardy sitting on a bench overlooking Dun Laoghaire harbour. To his surprise, it turned out that Stan Laurel had rusty auburn hair and not black hair as they had all assumed from watching the black and white comedy classics.
We lived at the time in a simple monochrome world that only identified two colours and now this information about Stan Laurel's hair was so bizarre that it had to be true.
His father had hopped off his bicycle and approached the pair politely saying "Welcome to Ireland" to which Oliver Hardy graciously responded, "Why, thank you". While their interaction was short it was also memorable and Bernard and his sisters were in awe of their father's story.
Today it is a measure of their enduring comic genius that they are still remembered and enjoyed.
Laurel and Hardy stayed at the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire for thirty three nights between September and October in 1953, while rehearsing for a performance at the Dublin's Olympia Theatre before heading off on a UK tour.
This was the comedy duo's second trip to Ireland having performed at the Olympia Theatre the previous year and staying at the Gresham Hotel on Dublin's O'Connell Street.
This episode of 'Sunday Miscellany' was broadcast on 17 June 2012.