Belfast Telegraph

Laughter lines? Sure ‘our’ Peter Kay gets them from Tyrone

Peter Kay as his popular character Geraldine from Britain’s Got The Pop Factor
Peter Kay as his popular character Geraldine from Britain’s Got The Pop Factor

By Victoria O’Hara

He is one of the UK’s best-loved comedians. Peter Kay has been tickling funny bones for years.

Selling out massive venues with his stand-up routines and record- breaking tours, he has been crowned the ‘pride of Bolton’.

But the small Co Tyrone town of Coalisland also feels a particular pride for the funnyman — and it is all because of his mum.

Mother Deirdre was born there and still has family living in the town.

The Coalisland accent he listened to growing up inspired one of Peter’s best-loved characters — ‘Geraldine’ from Britain’s Got The Pop Factor.

He even mentioned Deirdre in the name of his record-breaking ‘Mum Wants A Bungalow’ tour seven years ago.

In a rare chat with the Belfast Telegraph, Peter’s aunt Bernie O’Neill — his mum's twin — has told how her famous nephew got his sense of humour from his Co Tyrone family.

“Peter’s grandfather in England was the loveliest man and was very, very funny,” she said.

“Peter would have gleaned a lot of it from him.

“But mostly I would say from his mother — our side of the house, you know — one liners and the rest of it.

“I would say it is a family trait, all the family is the same. They would see humour in absolutely everything, unfortunately! But it is a way of getting through life.”

His aunt said the family will be going to see Peter perform during his five nights at the Odyssey Arena.

“Everybody is delighted with Peter’s success, surely. But we are a wee bit different over here. We don’t talk much about it. In England, I find when I’m there I would find myself a bit embarrassed by the attention.

“But I’m as proud as punch. He is the loveliest lad.”

The Phoenix Nights comedian has spoken warmly of Coalisland in the past, describing it like a place that time forgot “apart from the barracks with its 60-foot-high corrugated-iron fence that looked as though a spaceship had landed in the middle of the town”.

And when mentioned in the town, the name Peter Kay brings a smile to the faces of locals.

Roisin Currie (40) from Dungannon, who works in Coalisland, said: “The girls I work with do think he is very funny, so do I. There are definitely a lot of jokers in Coalisland, that is for sure, so it’s possible Peter Kay got his sense of humour from here.”

Locals Declan Campbell (49) and Gary Morgan (37) agreed.

“People in Coalisland have a great sense of humour, definitely,” Mr Campbell said.

“Peter got the accent down brilliantly when he did the Geraldine character, so people here have been an influence,” Mr Morgan added.

Jean McGlinchey, who has run McGlinchey’s cafe for 40 years, said people are proud of the local link to the successful comic.

“When he comes on the television you can’t help but smile and laugh. He is a great comedian. People do feel proud of the link,” she said.

“And of course, everybody here enjoys a good laugh — who doesn’t?”

Meanwhile Brian Duffrin, manager at the Craic Theatre in Coalisland, said the comedian’s links to the town are clear when talking to his family.

“His mum Deirdre has the same droll sense of humour and is never short of an answer. She is very quick-witted. When you talk to her you can see where Peter would get his sense of humour.

“Even though she left, she has still the same accent — Peter’s mum is no Graeme McDowell!”

Demonstrating that local sense of humour, Mr Duffrin added: “The Odyssey is a big venue but there is an open invitation to Peter to come and perform in Coalisland — but he won’t be paid.”

Peter Kay is currently performing a five-night run at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast.

Belfast Telegraph


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