Chances are that, if you’ve been to a hear a comedian in Gorey in the last few years, Dara Kiernan is the man who brought them here. Next up, it’s funny man Andrew Maxwell in the Ashdown Park Hotel on March 7.

Andrew Maxwell Ireland Tour 2020 Gorey

Comedian Andrew Maxwell headlines Gorey Comedy Club in March.

Dara, a Dubliner who now lives in North Wexford, set up Gorey Comedy Club in 2009. “We moved here in 2009 and were looking for entertainment at night,” said Dara, a self-employed business consultant. When his wife suggested setting up a comedy club, he readily agreed. “I had been involved in comedy for 10 years at that stage and had run small comedy clubs in Dublin. I did stand-up for five years but, let’s say, I found my talents were best suited to the background!”

Dara Kiernan, Gorey Comedy Club

Dara Kiernan set up Gorey Comedy Club in 2009

Top comedians

The stage’s loss was ultimately Gorey’s gain as Dara got into managing comedians after that. He got top comedians such as Tommy Tiernan, Des Bishop, Neil Delamere, Ardal O’Hanlon, PJ Gallagher, Fred Cooke, Colin Murphy, Deirdre O’Kane, Jon Kenny from D’Unbelievables, and Joe Rooney – to name a few – to add Gorey to their tours.

Many of these comedians were on stage with Dara in his stand-up days – “I was in that second wave with PJ Gallagher, Neil Delamere, David Doherty. In fact, Neil Delamere was on stage the first time I was on! And I managed a nationwide tour for PJ Gallagher – that was the last management gig I did!

Neil Delamere, Gorey Comedy Club

Neil Delamere, a favourite of Gorey audiences!

Chaos and madness!

“Now, it’s a hobby that I love – I love the reaction of audiences on the night and chatting with people to see what they liked and didn’t. We have a core of regulars at the gigs – and the acts are treated well here at the Ashdown Park by manager Paul Finegan and events manager Catherine Murphy.”

What about his own taste in comedy? “My favourite comedian is Billy Connolly, at the height of his career, he was wonderful. I like the crazy madness of Jason Byrne and how he goes off track. PJ Gallagher is another one I love for his madness, he’s vocal and loud. Like Jason, it’s pure chaos with PJ, it’s actually close to slapstick.”

Deirdre O'Kane, Gorey Comedy Club

Deirdre O’Kane has also graced the Gorey Comedy Club stage.

Keep ’em laughing

Interestingly, today, many comedians are coming to people’s attention online first, rather than the old route of honing the craft at clubs and pubs. Acts like Foil Arms & Hog and Enya Martin found fame on YouTube before moving to more traditional audience-facing gigs. Who knows, you could see them in Gorey some time!

Meanwhile, veteran comedian Karl Spain is the new resident MC in Gorey Comedy Club. In January, he survived his first gig, making his MC debut alongside comedian Fred Cooke. Dara also has plans to bring acts from the UK to Gorey. The plan is to keep ‘em laughing in Gorey – with other likely acts including Ardal O’Hanlon, Jason Byrne and Des Bishop. As Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”

Karl Spain, Gorey Comedy Club

Karl Spain is resident MC at Gorey Comedy Club

Interview: Deirdre O’Flynn