Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: ‘How dare they leave out the hyphen?’
A letter from Munster Rugby leaves the old man pacing the floor
‘Well, Chorles, what are you going to do about it? You’re not going to just stand by and let them refuse to take your money, are you?’
I swing by the old pair’s gaff, just to check they’re still alive – doing the whole caring son routine – and to steal some money from the safe. I find the old man in his study, pacing the floor, going, “The nerve of these people! The bloody well nerve!”
I make the mistake of asking him what’s wrong? See, I’m like that? Too nice for my own good – which tends to get taken advantage of?
The old man looks at me like he’s slowly seeing the face of Jesus in his toast. “Kicker!” he goes. “Thank you for coming.”
I laugh. I’m there, “I came to steal from you. But seeing as I’m here, I might as well ask what your problem is? It’s not going to affect my inheritance, is it?”
He’s like, “This is my problem, Ross,” and he shows me a letter, which it turns out is from – hilariously? – Munster Rugby.
“I’m not much of a reader,” I go. “What does it say?”
He’s there, “It says that, after due consideration, they’ve decided to turn down my offer to buy the naming rights to Thomond Pork.”
I laugh. No choice in the matter. I’m there, “You wanted to buy the naming rights to the home of Munster rugby? Er, why?”
“Well,” he goes, “it storted off as a joke, don’t you know! Hennessy and I were wetting our insides in the Horseshoe Bor and he happened to mention that he’d heard – in chambers, so to speak – that Munster Rugby was struggling to repay its debt to the IRFU for the redevelopment of the stadium.”
“Yeah, no,” I go, “they can afford to steal Joey Corbery from us, though,” and I hear my voice crack. I’m clearly not letting it go. You might as well ask dogs to stop getting so worked up about cats.
“So,” he goes, “the following morning, still a bit worse for wear, I rang my secretary and dictated a letter, in which I offered to clear the entire debt of €6.8m-“
“So it is going to affect my inheritance.”
“-in return for which the home of Munster rugby would, in perpetuity, bear our family name.”
I’m there, “O’Carroll-Kelly Pork?”
And he’s like, “Quote-unquote!”
“But you’re saying the idea didn’t go down well?”
“I just received this letter by return post,” he goes. “Dear Mister O’Carroll Kelly… They left out the hyphen, Ross – deliberately, no doubt.
“Many thanks for your letter. The selling of naming rights to Thomond Park is one of a number of measures being explored as part of our efforts to pay for the redevelopment of the stadium and to put Munster Rugby on a sound financial footing going forward. As of now, we have not found a suitable naming rights partner, although we are continuing to consider all offers. Unfortunately, having given due consideration to yours, we have decided that the O’Carroll Kelly name is not a suitable brand-fit for Munster Rugby at this time.”
“I mean, how bloody well dare they! Not a suitable brand-fit?”
Suddenly, the kitchen door opens and in she walks – meaning the old dear. She’s got so much filler in her face it’s impossible to tell whether she’s happy, sad, or constipated.
“Chorles,” she goes, “I came as soon as I got your voice message. I was in the Gables and I left my breakfast untouched.”
I’m there, “I wouldn’t worry about it. I’m sure they can pour it back into the bottle.”
She doesn’t take the bait. Doesn’t even look at me, in fact. The old man hands her the letter without saying a word. She gives it the old left-to-right, then goes, “They’ve left out the hyphen!”
The old man’s there, “Yes, I know. Insult to injury – exclamation mork! Read on, Fionnuala! Please, read on!”
So she carries on reading, her big, swollen lips silently mouthing the words until she comes to the bit about the O’Carroll-Kelly name not being a suitable brand fit for Munster Rugby.
She goes, “How dare they! How bloody well dare they!”
“I just said precisely the same thing to Kicker,” he goes. “Not a suitable brand fit? I am frankly sick of this idea that my money is somehow dirty just because it was corruptly acquired.”
“Who do these people think they are,” the old dear goes, “refusing our help.”
“It might not be the fact that you’re a dodgy focker,” I go.
He’s there, “Of course it’s that! What else could it be?”
“Er, you’ve said some pretty nasty things about Munster over the years. Remember that letter you wrote to The Irish Times? Judge a Kerry man’s wealth not by what’s in his house but by what’s in his born. That’s an exact quote.”
“That was a compliment,” he tries to go. “The hard-working, forming folk of County Kerry are the bloody well lifeblood of this country’s economy – even though I prefer my steak to be Aberdeen Angus.”
“And didn’t you suggest building a wall around Cork?”
“And who were the biggest supporters of that idea? The people of Cork, if you don’t mind! They’ve always seen themselves as a sort of Irish Monaco anyway. New Republic won two seats in Cork in the last election, may I remind you, on the basis of that promise!”
“Leaving out the hyphen,” the old dear goes. “That’s the biggest slap in the face of all.”
I’m there, “You wouldn’t even feel a slap in the face. There’s enough rubber in your cheeks to keep UCD in johnnys for a year.”
Again, she gives me nothing back. Sometimes she makes it very difficult for me to hurt her.
She goes, “Well, Chorles, what are you going to do about it? You’re not going to just stand by and let them refuse to take your money, are you?”
The old man takes the letter back from her, then screws it up into a ball. I haven’t seen him this angry since he didn’t get the call to become one of the Maple 10.
He goes, “You’re damn right, I’m not. If it’s a war that Munster Rugby wants, then it’s a war that Munster Rugby is going to get.”