Patrick Kielty recalls moment he came face-to-face with squaddies after smashing into Army checkpoint by accident
Patrick Kielty has told of the dramatic moment terrified soldiers cocked their guns at him after he mistakenly crashed into an Army checkpoint in Co Down.
The comic said he “totalled” his mum’s motor when he careered into a military roadblock on a dark country road during the Troubles, and squaddies feared they were under attack.
Kielty (51) added: “If you want to do the ultimate crash test, it is, does the safety in a Volvo protect you from an armour-plated Army Land Rover?’ It turns out it doesn’t.
“So, my mum’s Volvo is totalled. God love these soldiers, they’re jumping out over the bonnet as I hit.
“Do you know that thing when you have a crash? It goes quiet and you think to yourself, ‘Oh, I’m here. I’m alive. I’m okay’.
“Can you imagine the false dawn of, ‘Actually, I’m okay’ and then you hear guns clicking and you’ve got 12 petrified kids the same age as you, these soldiers crapping themselves, thinking that some guy is trying to run into a checkpoint.
“I’m going, ‘Guys, where were the lights? Where were the lights?’ And then they suddenly realised that ‘Where were the lights?’ isn’t some type of codeword.
“They started looking a bit sheepish and then the police came and we had a chat. You kind of know that it wasn’t your fault when it’s decided that everybody should maybe just fix their own vehicles and we’ll all go home’.
“I’m looking at my mum’s Volvo, totalled, and a tiny dent in the bumper of this armour-plated Land Rover. They were able to sort themselves out while I completely wrote off my mum’s car.”
Kielty said the smash happened on the outskirts of Dundrum, his hometown, when he was a teenager.
He added: “Basically what used to happen in the deep, dark, distant past in Northern Ireland is you had these Army checkpoints and on country roads they’d have two armour-plated Land Rovers and they’d pull them across the road.
“A soldier would then go 100 yards up the road. He would have a sign and it says ‘Checkpoint — Stop’. At night he would have a torch.
“So I’m coming back one night from watching Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure on VHS from Breda McKibben’s house just up the road.
“The lads in the Army just decided that they would just pull the two Land Rovers across the country road.
“Normally at night they drop the guy off at the start and he does the light and the sign and then they go further up and pull the two vehicles in.
“I don’t know what happened that night. They just decided that they would pull the two Land Rovers across first and then send this guy walking up to do the light.”
Kielty was talking on the Fuelling Around podcast about his love of cars, including when he owned a DeLorean.
He explained: “I thought that I’d quite like to have something which is a little bit of history, obviously built in Belfast.
“When you see it for the first time... this was a proper collector that had it — they basically shine them up with baby oil.
“This thing is just sitting there. It’s the full of your eye and he’s looking £12,500 for this car and you’re thinking, ‘Oh, my God’.
“You feel like the smuggest person in the world and you’re just going to write this cheque and you’re just going to drive off in this thing... and you do.
“You turn out of the corner and you get on to the main road and you realise that you have wasted £12,500.”
Kielty said he soon realised he had nowhere to store it and the flash motor was rusting from the inside, so he took the advice of Pink Floyd star Nick Mason, who told him to flog it.
The stand-up comedian and TV host made a small profit selling it on, but he admitted he now regretted parting with the classic car.
He added: “I took Nick Mason’s advice and sold the car. I think I sold it for £17,000 and I got about three years’ driving out of it.
“I then go on a website and the car that I used to have is now in Australia and was actually on sale 18 months ago for 63,000 Australian dollars. [£36,000]. I was going, ‘Doh’.”
One car he held on to was a vintage Jaguar, but he revealed it was still stuck in storage in the States.
When it comes to taking to the road as a doting dad-of-two — he has boys Milo and James with TV presenter wife Cat Deeley — Kielty has mixed views. He said he had loved taking them on trips for staycation holidays, including back in Co Down during Covid restrictions.
He added: “I’m still in the camper van sweet spot with our two boys. During lockdown, I’ve always had a house in the little village I’m from in Co Down and I wanted to get back there.
“During the lockdown you were allowed to travel, but did you really want to go on plane with them? So I rented a camper van.
“They said, ‘Can we go to Ireland?’ I said, ‘Yes, we can’. Cat was in America, she was working, and I put, at that stage, a three-year-old and a five-year-old in a camper van and I drove the 12 hours across England over to Holyhead to Dublin.
“They now don’t want any other holiday ever apart from a camper van with their dad.
“But you’re just throwing crisps and drinks behind to them and they’re fighting. I mean, by the time we actually reached Co Down, this camper van looked like the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan.
“So, I really like the idea of them wanting to hang out with me, but there comes a certain point when they go, ‘Can we take the camper van back to Ireland?’ and you’re going, ‘No, no, no. The flights are back on’. So touring is relaxing compared to that.”
The comedian also joked that he loved going on tour so that he can get a break from his duties as a father.
He said: “What happens when you have small human beings in your life who are now the ages of four and six, essentially getting away on tour is just a series of mini-break weekends for a middle-aged dad.
“Whenever you’re looking after the kids, whenever you’re in lockdown, whenever you’re trying to do the things that men of a certain age want to do, there’s always a bedroom in the house where you pretend you’re going to do emails and that’s essentially the dad nap room.
“So, the idea in a previous life of going on tour and going, ‘Yeah, let’s go on tour! We’ll have beer and we’ll stay up’. No, it’s like, ‘Where can I get a nice cooked breakfast? Where can I get a lie-in?’
“You take calls from the wife and she tells you what the kids are up to and how busy she is and you fake interest in these things and then have a little snooze.
“Then you go and you tell a few jokes in the evening and you go back to her and pretend it’s very hard work.”