Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

Billy Connolly's Irish shows sell out despite foul-mouthed tirade that reduced photographer to tears

Billy Connolly
Billy Connolly

The controversy over a foul-mouthed tirade that reduced a female photographer to tears has done little to dent the popularity of Scottish comedian Billy Connolly (71).

The veteran comic, better known as the 'Big Yin', played to a second sell-out audience in Cork Opera House last night despite his refusal to publicly apologise to Kerry snapper Valerie O'Sullivan for a vile tirade he subjected her to in Killarney on Thursday.

One theatre source said demand for tickets for the Cork shows had been "phenomenal" since the controversy erupted.

Connolly has refused to speak to the media in Cork, where he has been staying for the past three days for two sellout shows as part of his 'The Man Live' Irish tour.

He said during an RTE radio tribute to songwriter Shay Healy that he was "very proud" of his outburst in Killarney.

"I was kind of rude to her. I didn't know it was a woman -- I could only see her in the shadows halfway up the (INEC) hall," he said.

"I told her to go away and then I told her to go away in a Glaswegian way. It only takes two words. Do I regret it? Certainly not, I am very proud of it."

Those attending the Killarney concert said they were shocked when the comedian told the photographer in front of the capacity crowd: "Will someone come here and see to this f***ing c***?"

However, a friend of the photographer, Fr Kevin McNamara, last night said it was still not too late for an apology, as the photographer was "such a kind and gentle person" she would graciously accept such a gesture.

"I was. . .shocked by such a vicious and totally unacceptable attack on her. Anyone who makes a person cry by using such filthy language should be ashamed of himself."

"He (Connolly) has compounded the insults by refusing to apologise when he had the opportunity to do so. Instead he boasted about what he had done on national radio. Even at this stage I would ask him to say sorry to Valerie," Fr McNamara said.

 An accomplished landscape photographer, Ms O'Sullivan is best known for her shot of the UK's Queen Elizabeth laughing during a tour of the English Market in Cork.

It is understood that Ms O'Sullivan has received messages of support from Egan Promotions and the INEC/Gleneagle Hotel.

She had specifically asked permission from one of Connolly's aides before moving from the sound-mixing desk towards the INEC stage to take additional shots without the use of flash photography.

Ms O'Sullivan has declined to comment on the matter.

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