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Gifted with The Gab

It’s no secret that the Irish like to talk a lot (and more often than not at a fair rate of knots), but in our humble defence – we tend to be quite good at it.

Considering the relatively small size of our country, Ireland seems to occupy a disproportionately large amount of space in the global comedy scene – an environment in which “The Irish Turn of Phrase” seems to thrive. Between our unique choice of vocabulary and self-deprecating humour with a little darkly sarcastic twist thrown in – we’ve concocted a unique collection of professional chatterboxes.

So here’s a list of Irish people who are famed for their Gift of the Gab: whether they’re standing on a stage, or sitting on a couch – they’ve all got that knack for captivating an audience.

Terry Wogan

Sir Terry Wogan acquired ‘National Treasure’ status in both Britain and Ireland (a rather elusive achievement) being knighted by the Queen in 2005, while being honoured with Freedom of the City in his hometown of Limerick in 2007. Everyone, from Scottish rock band Franz Ferdinand to Derry Girls’ Erin Quinn, dreamed of being interviewed by him when they hit the big time.

His easy chatter and welcome rambles made his popularity span across generations, with listeners to his radio show “Wake Up With Wogan” jokingly separated into TOGs and TYGs (Terry’s Old Geezers/Gals and Terry’s Young Geezer/Gals), with the host being dubbed the ‘TOGmeister’.

As well as his own extensive credits as a television and radio talk show host, he was a presenter for many iconic recurring programmes, such as Children in Need, Eurovision, and Come Dancing.

Dara Ó Briain

According to a review of one of his stand-up comedy performances, Ó Briain is ‘Sir Terry Wogan's heir apparent as Britain's "favourite Irishman"’. His amiable persona, quick wit, and ability to laugh at himself makes him a deserved recipient of his “Craic Dealer” title.

As well as his successful stand-up career he is also a much sought after presenter, adding comical commentary on everything from The Apprentice: You’re Fired to Robot Wars. He has hosted the topical satire gameshow Mock the Week since its inception in 2005, in which he delivers his own quick quips and amusing anecdotes, while simultaneously trying to reel in a collection of six other comedian “panellists”.

The Wicklow funny man is a fluent and practicing Gaelic speaker, giving him the Irish ‘Gift of the Gab’ in more sense than one…

Ed Byrne

It’s perhaps unsurprising that Dara O’Briain has become best buds with Ed Byrne, what with the Dublin-born comedian making a record 60 ‘guest’ appearances on Mock the Week, and their friendship is almost as funny as their individual talents.

For example, Byrne tells the tale of waking up to find three law enforcers in his house after a slightly inebriated and tuxedoed O’Briain tried to leave it in the middle of the night, left the door open and accidentally hailed a police car instead of a taxi.

Aside from his comical choice in chums, Ed Byrne is a celebrated comedian in his own right, with his show “Standing Up, Falling Down” being the biggest selling comedy performance of the 2006 Edinburgh Fringe. He is famed for his charmingly nerdy and self-deprecating humour and speedily delivered, side-splitting storytelling that is often accompanied with a healthy dollop of sarcasm.

Dylan Moran

While the Irish sense of wit is much applauded across the globe, Dylan Moran has a ritual before every comedy gig to make sure his performance really hits home in a new city.

He explores the sentiments of his surroundings, talking to as many people as possible, asking endless questions, drinking in answers, observing interactions - until he really gets his finger on the pulse of the scene. He then uses his new-found local knowledge to tear into his audience on a more personal level.

His dark humour and deadpan delivery add a wicked spin to his observational comedy, and in his early days shrouded as he was in cigarette smoke with a glass of red wine swinging from his fist, he very much resembled his cynical and chaotic character of Bernard Black on Black Books.

Today he’s swapped the wine for water and has cleared the air a bit but only literally – his comedy is still as delightfully dark as always.

Maeve Higgins

Maeve Higgins has performed in comedy festivals all over the world, bringing her humble, pensive and intrinsically Irish sense of humour to a global stage.

She was flung into the public eye in 2005 as one of the main stars of skit-show Naked Camera, with her pokerfaced personas bemusing and amusing members of the public as her scenes unfolded.

She headed up her own cookery comedy show ‘Maeve Higgins' Fancy Vittles in which she rattles off her comedic views (stuffed with plenty of cultural in-jokes) on the world to her sister Lily, who studiously ignores her and gets on with preparing dinner.

Higgins now lives in New York and is a regular in the Brooklyn stand up scene, as well as penning three books, appearing on multiple radio shows and occupying a starring role in Irish Horror Comedy “Extra Ordinary” which was released earlier this year. It’s safe to say she’s got a lot on her plate, and we’re keen to see what she serves up next.

Tommy Tiernan

The Netflix generation among as will probably recognise Tommy Tiernan from Derry Girls, but he’s been entertaining audiences long before he took to the screen as the long-suffering ‘Da Gerry’.

An old school chum of Dylan Moran, the Donegal-born Tiernan nabbed the Guinness World Record in 2009 for “longest individual stand-up comedy show”, following a performance at Nuns Island in Galway that lasted over 36 hours. His record has since been surpassed, but his tireless energy and boundary threatening humour on stage is showing no signs of subsiding. He has a flair of tackling the big issues, such as politics, religion and national identity – making his audience roar with laughter, with some takeaway food for thought for later.

He hosts his own ‘mystery guest’ chat show The Tommy Tiernan Show on RTÉ One, as well as the Tommy and Hector Show podcast with fellow presenter and St Patrick’s Classical School alumni, Hector Ó hEochagáin.

Gay Byrne

Tommy Tiernan is one of many Irish household names to frequent the sofas of The Late Late Show, which is the second longest running late night chat show in history.

Gay Byrne was the original host of the RTÉ One flagship television programme in 1962, and for 37 years he entertained, challenged the opinions and won the hearts of the people of Ireland.

In 2010 the Irish Times described him as "unquestionably the most influential radio and television man in the history of the Irish State, and his Gift of The Gab gave him the ability to ask the hard questions, while still maintaining his likeable personality – for guests and viewers alike.

He role as permanent host of The Late Late has since been occupied by Pat Kenny (1999-2009) and Ryan Turbidy (2009-present) as it continues to be one of the most watched shows in Irish television today.

Graham Norton

While we’re on the subject of talk show hosts, we can hardly let it pass without mentioning the scandalously charismatic Graham Norton.

His playful cheeky demeanour creates a unique atmosphere on The Graham Norton Show, in which celebrities seem to feel free to unleash their true selves – resulting in hilarious anecdotes, bizarre goings-on (such as that time Margot Robbie gave one of the production team a tattoo on stage), and just generally good fun banter. Whether this amusing lack inhibition is due to Norton’s Gift of the Gab or the fact that everyone on the show seems to be sporting a large glass of wine…we’ll let you decide.

The fact of the matter, is that the Father Ted guest star’s cheerily cutting commentary on Eurovision is just as entertaining as his predecessor’s, Terry Wogan, and we can give him no higher praise.

 

Of course, there’s plenty more names that we could add to this list, and we’re sure we’ve missed out some favourites. Let us know which Irish personality you think has been Gifted with the Gab in the comments below.

Also, if you can’t get enough of the Irish way with words, be sure to check out our latest box, which is packed full of quips and -isms sure to bring a smile to your face.

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