Circus artist Ronan Brady features in tonight's Late Late Show Culture Night special - below, he writes about his journey from Ireland's GAA pitches to pursuing his hoop dreams...

The arts was never something I was that into. It seemed to be for those who were not my type. My type being a rural farmers son, who's life revolved around competitive sport. I was physical man, I was tough man, I was a manly man. The arts were not for manly men like me, so I only dabbled in it when it got me out of class in school.

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My definition of the arts was a little skewed to be fair. I thought the arts was painting and drawing. Then stage theatre of course, where they all spoke like Shakespeare, and that was it. I couldn’t draw very well, nor had any desire to speak like the Shylock or Gratiano, so that was that. I put my head down and pursued sport for the first two and a half decades of my life.

They were great years, filled with county and provincial titles, captaincies, club all-stars, team holidays, the works. It all came to an end in my mid 20s when a long term injury forced time out of the game. This presented an opportunity to look outside my sports bubble for once, and seek out other opportunities.

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I took up circus as a hobby. I couldn’t be around football while injured, it was too frustrating to be there and to not take part. So I removed myself completely. But as I became more proficient at my hobby, I started to be offered bits of gigs. Small one off things here and there, then before I know it, I’m handing in my notice at my teaching job and making a go of a career in circus.

It took a while to get going, 18 months to gather any real traction and consistency. But then I was doing it, a full time freelance circus artist, and a million miles away from being a funny speaking Venetian.. It was a busy time and frantic time. Training, funding applications, rejections, successes, more injuries, award winnings shows, world tours, international ceremonies, tv shows, documentaries, media interviews.

Then Covid.

An 18-month silence.

The phone rings. It's RTE. "We are producing a video for Culture Night that will open The Late Late Show and we’d love you to be a part of it. Are you interested?"

I’m conflicted, I totally want to do this, but I’ve not trained in over a year, and have major doubts in my abilities. I have also donned my teaching cap again, as my top hat has been gathering cobwebs.

"Yes."

It’s my default answer. (Not always wise, but I’m working on it) Somehow though, I’ve agreed to my partner Michelle to being part of the deal. Michelle is a scientist though, not a circus artist. She also gets motion sickness. I really didn’t think this through. But one thing Michelle is, is determined. Michelle in an accomplished sports person. She won an All-Ireland medal with Leitrim ladies in 2007. She knows how to face a challenge. So we set to task, training in an underground carpark. We’d rehearse to the point of what the tummy would allow, then sleep and repeat the next day. We did this for two weeks. To say it was challenging would understate it. But it was all worth it.

Michelle and Ronan

We showed up to our location in Dublin and shot our scene in the middle of the night. And she did amazing. It was quite the adventure. Michelle is about to make her circus debut on the Late Late for Culture Night and we are chuffed with the results.

Would we do it again? You’ll have to ask Michelle, I’ve been sacked as spokesperson.

The Late Late Show, RTÉ 1, Friday September 17th at 9.35 pm. Ronan is also premiering his new short film Byzantine as part of Roscommon Arts Centres Culture Night programme - find out more here. Ronan's memoir Worlds Apart (published by Mercier Press) is out now - find out more here.