Ray Mac Mánais launched the new book of jokes by Joe O Dónaill at Oireachtas na Gaeilge on Friday 3rd November and there was a great crowd in attendance. The pair had everyone in stitches without even needing to open the book at all.
“I’ve known Joe for 40 years now, and from the start it was clear to me that Joe is funny man” Ray said starting his talk.
“He’s a great storyteller and he has won many prizes for storytelling. He’s also a songwriter and his name is inscribed proudly on the Sheáin Eoin Uí Shuilleabháin cup. He spent 16 years as a good friend to the bold character Hiúdaí on TG4”
“The person that is able to dance, dances, and the person who is not able to dance, well they present Steip (TG4)” Ray quipped “And well I know it as I was just on stage with him performing a ‘lúibíní’ and we were doing a bit of steipidí hoip and a hoipidí steip and I bumped into a fella in the jacks afterwards and he said ‘Whatever about you, Joe hasn’t a bit of a step'”
“It was said to me, and I don’t know if there is any truth in it, it might have been a joke, that Joe is alright doing the hagallaimh beirte and the lúibíní as well, even his songwork – if there isn’t much work involved!”
“He’s an accomplished man Joe is, in a few words – he’s a pain in the bum, or rather I’m jealous of all his talents. Currently he’s a headmaster at Gaelscoil Míde, a place where I’ve been myself trying to keep a handle on this lad, and just like me, he spends his time now in the office at his leisure. He closes the door and nobody know what he does be at – he does be doing the crossword, reading the paper and he has lots of time to be writing a book!”
“Funny stories are very, very important in life. They brighten the blue and gloomy times, they break the tension often, and it’s often that Joe broke the tension with humour. Not only is he really good at writing funny stories but he’s great at telling them as well. They take people out the dumps or their depressions – these funny stories. We’ve had them always they say, and I googled the oldest joke and it was innocent enough: King Hercules, King of Greece, a philosopher and deep thinker who was always coming up with new thoughts, he lived around a year before Christ. He called the barber in to give him a haircut and the barber said to him ‘How do you want your haircut?’
“In silence, he said.”
“There is one joke in the book that I was very taken with, for this reason, above everything else, you can’t tell this joke in English – it doesn’t work, more often the opposite is the case, the joke is in English and people try to translate it, and in truth it doesn’t work. In this one, Padaí was standing at the door of the tent, and somebody asked him ‘Why are you standing at the door of the tent?’ and his answer was ‘I want to be at the mouth of the tent.'”
“Looking through the book I noticed a gorgeous thing that Joe had done in the acknowledgements. Joe is a big family man, he’s very proud of his family and he gave special mention to Sharon and his children Cian and Maedhbh, and the thing that he said: ‘I give thanks to you for bringing laughter to my heart every day of my life'”
“And then I asked him ‘Was I mentioned in the book?’ and he said ‘Yes, you’re the Foolish Paddy'”
“And with that, I wish great success to Joe. I’d like to offer a heartfelt congratulations to Joe and to Éabhlóid for producing such a wonderful polished book – and it’s really handy for putting in your pocket… We are already looking forward to the second book and I wish every success to that one too… and to the next one after that, and I wish every success especially to my dear friend here Joe Lena.”
Joe spoke then to clear up a few details for the audience
“I’d like to say ‘thank you’ to Ray for all he said but I’d like to make one small point … this small book, it fits into your pocket, and he said I wrote it while I was in the office. Now, Ray was in that office before me, and he wrote a biography of Mary McAleese in Irish and in English – almost 2,000 pages long! They were a couple of years I didn’t see much of Ray” “But seriously I’m very grateful to Ray, my dear friend, I’m very grateful to you all for coming here. As Ray said, and I don’t know if pride is the right word, but I’m am really very happy that this book has come together. I myself enjoyed it, and I was laughing and that’s the litmus test I had, if I think the stories are funny – then they should be in the book”
“I’d like to give special thanks to Éabhlóid. I’m more proud above all else that there is a publishing company as good as this up there in Gaoth Dobhair. I remember the first time I sent Eoghan an email and I said ‘Here’s a couple of stories, what do you think I should do with them?’ and he sent me back an email saying ‘I thought I had lost my sense of humour but I was laughing anyway’
“I’m very grateful as well, to Graham of course, who did the wonderful pictures. Thanks to Clíona who proofed and edited my Gaeilge and of course to Caomhán Ó Scolaí, a genius, who layed out the book. Many many thanks to you all and I’m so happy that you are all here today”
The book Sin Ceann Maith is available to buy here.