New Ross Carroll-O’Kelly character: A frenemy for Honor

The entries to create a character for the next book were brilliantly inventive – including the candidates for the role of Sorcha’s first extramarital lover

Reclining Rossmesiter. “Some of the character names,” Paul Howard couldn’t help but notice, “were not as funny as the real names of many of the competition entrants.”

Reclining Rossmesiter. “Some of the character names,” Paul Howard couldn’t help but notice, “were not as funny as the real names of many of the competition entrants.”


I was overwhelmed by the response to the competition to create a character for the next Ross O’Carroll-Kelly book. There were hundreds of entries and what a diorama of brilliantly inventive and colourful characters you dreamt up.

There were baristas and barristers, hipsters and farmers, foodies and mindfulness gurus, hot yoga teachers and yoga teachers who happened to be hot. There was a “militant Tag Rugby purist”, a sex therapist who thought Ross may have had some issues in that regard and au pairs of various nationalities who were powerless to resist his charms. There were more than a few candidates for the role of Sorcha’s first extramarital lover.

There were long-lost brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles. There were offspring that Ross never knew about and ghosts from his J1 past. There were hurling-, cricket- and even badminton-playing Rossalikes. There were Trump-alikes, Johnson-alikes and even one or two Hook-alikes. There were several characters that I couldn’t have included in a book without inviting possible legal issues with Paul Murphy. Ditto Fintan O’Toole.

There were a lot of wonderfully brattish south Dublin kids and a great many family pets, including dogs named Shaggy, Drico and Grand Slam, as well as a hen I particularly liked named Victoria Peckham.

And the names! There were double-barrelled Christian names, triple-barrelled surnames and Roman numerals galore. There was an estate agent named Des “Res” Devere, a Turlough F Blalock III, a Franc Charlemagne, a Mr Sternley-Buckfast, a Morgan from Stillorgan and an especially memorable, South African, speed limit-averse taxi driver called Nelson Mondello. There was a character named Quinoa. I think there might be a proliferation of kids named Quinoa starting school in the next couple of years.

There were some real acronymic wonders, too, such as Michael Ulysses Carthy Kelly, Sheevaun Trasimena O’Carroll-Kelly, Bernardine O’Gara, Keith Noel O’Brick, Sam Neil O’Brien, Reese Isaac Chesterson-Hatfield, Jetson Odriscoll-Campion-Kode III and a reborn property developer named Benediect Osborne-O’Malley.

The winner, I decided, after weeks of deliberation, was Hannah Keane, who came up with a child “frenemy” for Honor named Sincerity. For me, comedy works best when you play opposites off against each other. Sincerity, a Mount Anville head girl in waiting, is the opposite of Honor in every way. She is kind, thoughtful and enthusiastic. Honor is very much looking forward to having her as a plaything.

Sincere thanks to everyone who took the time and trouble of entering the competition.


Hannah Keane

Character name: Sincerity (nickname: “CC”)

Sincerity goes to school with Honor and meets her through the school’s anti-bullying initiative whereby first-years are buddied up with the person they were sitting beside during the school’s entrance exam. The school hopes that the randomised allocation of buddies will encourage the girls to make friends outside of their social circle and will prevent the formation of “cliques”.

Sincerity is similar to Honor in that she comes from a wealthy background, is self-confident and is a natural leader. Where they differ is that Sincerity embodies “school spirit”; she is enthusiastic about school (without being geeky) and is a shining example of “well-rounded education” in that she participates in many school sports, societies and charitable/civically-minded organisations.

Their “frenemy” relationship is based on the idea that each sees the other as a personal challenge. Honor does not intimidate Sincerity and is unable to wield power over her. Sincerity, as a future head girl, cannot be seen to not get along with Honor despite the fact that Honor is clearly the bully the initiative aims to combat. Although they do not like each other, they admire the other’s determination and realise that they both must keep up this charade of being friends.

Hannah’s character will be in next Ross O’Carroll-Kelly book. She also wins an overnight stay in Ross’s stomping ground, the Shelbourne Hotel, and a signed copy of Operation Trumpsformation from Penguin Ireland.

Runners up

Runners up, who each win a signed copy of Operation Trumpsformation courtesy of Penguin Ireland.

Patsy Thomson, Cromarty, Scotland: Sister Imelda Rose of Lima – stocky, red faced, hearty, attractive in an outdoorsy way, early forties – younger daughter of a wealthy Dalkey family. A professed Sister of the Ovaline Teaching Order.

Women’s rugby enthusiast. Spent last 20 years in the Peruvian missions, coaching dangerously enthusiastic indigenous Amerindian women with long legs with low centres of gravity and ferocious tackling techniques. They prefer the briefest of kits. Fanatical about promoting international women’s matches. Back in Dublin with videos of her pet team – the Atahualpa Amazons – seeking sponsors for a two-leg, home and away fixture with an Irish team. Has heard of Ross Carroll O’Kelly through an old priest in South America who was in seminary with Father Fehily. Believes Ross to be a highly influential, respected figure in Irish rugby.

Barry Doherty, Dublin 7: Benedict Osborne O’Malley (BOOM) came to prominence as a property developer during the Celtic Tiger. Prices on his Wuthering Heights estate in Leitrim broke records: €1 million for a semi-detached house bought off the plans. When the crash hit, he faked his own death to escape his debts, leaving a suicide note in an empty champagne bottle on Killiney beach. The case caused outcry – New Republic’s leader Charles O’Carroll Kelly called it a case of “Nama hounding a good man to death”.

While everyone in Ireland thought he was dead, BOOM fled to South America with the help of his nephew (Donal Osborne O’Malley) who inherited the properties free of BOOM’s personal guarantees. DOOM was supposed to manage the properties for his uncle and send him a share of the income. For a while DOOM went along with the plan, but now he has double-crossed his uncle and stopped paying the money. BOOM threatens to have his nephew beaten up, and DOOM in turn threatens to go public on his uncle’s fake suicide. BOOM wants to take back the property without blowing his cover. He contacts Hennessy Coghlan O’Hara for advice…

Teresa Dooner: Paudie “the paunch” O’Hara is a 57-year-old bachelor farmer from the arse-end of nowhere, aka Elphin, Co Roscommon. His hobbies include not spending his money, listening to the death notices on local radio, Winning Streak, and a carvery lunch with a 7-Up on a Sunday. He’s a first cousin of Hennessy Coughlan O’Hara. Hennessy is the nearest living relative and he and Lauren are going to get their greedy hands on the lot. Hennessy sees feck all of him and that’s the way he likes it. Unbeknownst to him, however, six months ago Paudie met a 38-year-old civil servant called Grainne at a Declan Nerney race dance and it was love at first sight, culminating in a wedding invitation landing on his mat. Hennessy knows he has to stop the wedding or it’s goodbye to the readies. Cue a visit to Elphin for Ross – he owes him. It’s all rain, non-existent broadband, and the nearest thing to Storbucks being a lukewarm cup of tea in the local Centra, plus Grainne, who gets more excited by a well-stacked shed of turf, is immune to Ross’s chorms.

Colin Jackson: Henry Arthur Reid-Dunlop is the Ulster equivalent of Ross – he only avoided being invited to leave RBAI after O-Levels because of his rugby prowess and family connections to the “Ravenhill Mafia”. After school he was given a job he was uniquely underqualified for and then through a series of fortuitous accidents he made a success of it. He was consequently invited to become the head of the Nama Belfast operation, a role he took to with relish as he classed the Celtic Tiger crash as a biblical judgment on the Leinster-biased IRFU, who continually overlooked Ulster players for Ireland selection. Despite being a Malone Road version of Ross, when Henry is seconded to Nama HQ he becomes Ross’s nemesis both socially and professionally. Henry supplants Ross’s position among his friends while at the same time unearthing some shady deals Ross signed off on at the behest of Charles and Hennessy. Ross must use all his skill to fend off this Northern usurper.

Ruth McNamara, Rathfarnham: Ricardo the yoga instructor. Sorcha convinces Ross to join her at her new yoga class (good for his hip) with instructor Ricardo (Irish mother, Italian father). He’s a few years older than Ross but is tanned, well toned with the mandatory ponytail. He owns the famous vegetarian restaurant The Smiling Prune in Enniskerry which is famous for its beetroot casseroles. He organises regular Vegan Way trips to the Camino where walkers stay in hostels along the way which serve vegan dishes and they can attend mindfulness sessions with Ricardo after each day’s walk. Sorcha loves his restaurant and has been planning to sign up for a Vegan Way trip so she is very keen to enrol herself and Ross for the yoga.

Ricardo takes an immediate shine to Sorcha and continuously sympathises with her about how difficult it must be for her looking after a semi-invalid. He is concerned that some of the yoga moves may be too difficult for Ross which Ross finds to be patronising especially when he suggests that he may feel more comfortable in the over-65 class .

When it all eventually gets too much for Ross and as Ricardo is helping him with a difficult yoga move he remembers a scrum collapsing technique that an old prop buddy once showed him and lands with all of his weight on top of Ricardo who screams in pain that he thinks that his hip is broken. Ross says not to worry as he knows a good doctor.

Jim Foley: Huck Foley is an inveterate Woodbines smoker and a septuagenarian distant “cousint” of Ronan’s grandad. His given name long forgotten, Huck’s nickname arose from his inability to swear openly following a robust primary school education from the legendary Christian Brothers of Dublin’s north inner city. His favourite threat to enemies is to “shate the bite outta dem”, and he has often said “Jerciful Maysis” when alarmed or annoyed. Slightly built but immensely strong, Huck is familiar with the law – the wrong side of it that is, and that is how our hero gets to meet him – in remand following his recent arrest for theft. A classic barrack-room barrister, Huck is willing to offer his services to Rosser in return for some “favours”. Will Huck rescue the Rossmeister from his plight? And what will he have to do in return?

Josephine Cotter: Mrs McPushy is a pushy mother, my child does no wrong, my child deserves main part in school play, my child is always sinned against/never the sinner/rules do not apply to my child/homework is too easy, my child could do all that stuff two years ago/the reading books are not challenging/my child should be swimming in the deep end/my child should be student of the month/year/My child should not be in a class with ... and .../why did you correct my child etc etc etc.

Appearance. Usually blond/ has excellent hairdressser/ south county accent and speaks loudly, enunciates slowly and clearly in case teacher is thick culchie. Husband usually fairly silent. Speaks extra loudly at school gates so all the other mummies will know how smart she and her child are. Speaks extra, extra loudly and forcefully at school meetings. Reminds you frequently that her dad was a very important barrister.

A joiner. Definitely on parents’ association and board of management. Very active on Parents What’s App group. Stuck in everything/should get a real job!

Stephen Coughlan: Jamie O’Carroll-Kelly. Ross’s kid brother, Jamie, went missing at the ’98 senior cup final, but because he wasn’t good at rugby, neither his parents nor the school authorities really noticed. Jamie is concussed just after half-time when, after bringing on the oranges and giving the finger to the opposition supporters, he slips on a puddle of Red Bull back in the ‘Rock dressing room and hits his head on a bottle of CK One. Waking dazed and confused, he wanders out of Donnybrook Stadium into the nearby CIE garage and falls asleep upstairs on the back seat of a bus which then pulls out of the garage with Jamie aboard just as Ross misses the deciding kick. The grieving process for the O’Kelly family after losing the final, and the fact that Jamie’s school fees were already paid up, means nobody misses him until an invoice issues for the next term’s fees. By then, Jamie has been adopted by the kindly bus driver’s family, having been discovered at the bus terminus (in Bray) suffering conveniently from amnesia.

The O’Carroll-Kellys, rather than face the embarrassment of admitting they never noticed Jamie’s absence till the fees invoice arrived, agree never to speak of him again. They tell Ross and anyone else who asks that Jamie has gone to live with distant relatives in an expensive mobile home park in Brittas Bay. Meanwhile, in Bray, Jamie (now known as Jem Junior, after the bus driver ) attends the local Christian Brothers school, plays GAA badly, and develops an abiding loathing of southside rugby goys, first after having his teenage sweetheart stolen by some knob called Ross (on a day trip to Brittas Bay), and later after being refused entry to Annabelle’s for not wearing Dubes. After leaving school, he has to sign on, then emigrates to Perth where he plays junior GAA with the ex-pat Irish community. While there, he sets up an artisan coffee business selling flat whites from a converted VW van.

He returns to Ireland in 2007 when the boom is at its boomiest, realises no one in Dublin has heard of a flat white, buys another VW van, and pitches up outside the RDS on Friday nights to charge gullible southsiders four euro for a cup of warm milk with a half spoon of Maxwell House mixed in. After he sells two to Drico and Shaggy, he becomes a minor celebrity, featuring in The Irish Times Hot/Not list, and a two-page spread in the Sindo’s Life magazine.

The following Friday at the RDS, Jem’s van has a 50-yard queue before kickoff and he has to nip to the Spar for more Maxwell House for the half-time rush. In the queue is a bloke so big, rich and thick he could be a Yorkie bar. The southside princess with him wants to try this, like, sooo amazing coffee. Jem has never seen her before, but he realises he’s met the Yorkie goy somewhere, something about him is strangely familiar......

Annette Burke: Frank Brennan runs the local funeral parlour, pub, tour guide and bed and breakfast. The hilarious storylines when dates and venue overlap and how he handles these situations.

Kevin Hussey, Galway: Des Res-Devere is the emerging scion of the illustrious Killiney auctioneering family, who has decided to to demonstrate his fertile talents in the new field, for him, of PR.

In short, he aspires to be a successful spin doctor in the hurly-burly of the political world, where he considers that his elastic enthusiasm for the truth will serve well in that particular sphere.

Kingmaker-in-waiting, his portfolio is replete with stratagems to assist clients in presenting any new proposal as a mesmerising miracle in doublespeak and obfuscation, disguising dark reality as “a consummation devoutly to be wished”.

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