Ross O’Carroll Kelly: ‘I can’t wait to see Denis O’Brien wipe the floor with you in the High Court’

Saw the old man on ‘Claire Byrne Live’ the other night and I don’t think he looked well

I pop in to see the old man, just to check on him. Well, let’s be honest, I pop in to see him because I need money. But I don’t do my usual thing of heading straight for the safe behind the Louis le Brocquy in the study and helping myself to whatever’s inside. I actually go looking for him.

I saw him on Claire Byrne Live the other night, talking about his campaign to have political gender quotas declared unconstitutional and the recent decision by the Supreme Court, who told him – and this probably isn't the right legal expression – to cop the fock on.

I didn't think he looked well.

I don’t think he’s looked well, in fact, since Helen wised up and left him, which is one of the reasons I decide to see how he is. There’s goodness in me. Not a massive amount, but it’s there.


I find the dude in the kitchen, surrounded by thousands of New Republic election posters and hundreds of law books piled high on every available surface. He doesn’t actually see me at first, because he’s staring into the mirror above the fireplace, running his hands through his Denis O’Brien-style hair (wig) and giving himself a bit of a pep talk.

He’s going, “Oh, you leader of men! Oh, you captain of industry! Oh, you Moses of the dispossessed middle classes.”

He gets a fright when I suddenly go, “Look at the focking state of this place!”

He quickly turns around. “Kicker!” he goes. “I was just, em, giving myself a little talking-to ahead of an important meeting I have this afternoon.”

I’m there, “This place is definitely missing a woman’s touch. And I don’t mean that in a sexist way – even though I probably do. I should give you Brandusa’s number. She’s an unbelievable cleaner and we found out that she wasn’t stealing from us after all.”

“I have far weightier matters on my mind than the cleanliness or otherwise of this house, Ross. I’m talking about matters of state. This afternoon, I shall be meeting with the grassroots of New Republic to reflect on the recent election result and what it means.”

“Yeah, you didn’t win a single seat. Even I can figure out what it means – and I can’t work the toaster.”

“I think we need to examine in a calm, yet no less rigorous, manner why we failed to communicate our message to the electorate.”

“What message was that? The message that they should vote for you and not for someone else.”

“I can see what you’re doing, Ross. You’re performing your world-famous devil’s advocate routine in an attempt to sharpen up your old dad’s wits ahead of his – inverted commas – Day of Reckoning.”

"Er, I'm not? I'm only actually here because I need two grand? Sorry, did I say two? I meant three grand. I just stuck my head around the door to see how you were, being a social animal – and I find out this is how you're living. Why have you still got these posters?"

“I’m surprised that someone as politically attuned as you feels the need to ask that question, Ross. Oh, we’ll be putting these things up again before the year is out – you see if we’re not.”

I open the fridge. There’s literally nothing in there.

“I saw you on TV,” I go. “On Monday night. I thought you looked horrendous. You’re supposedly under doctor’s orders to take things easy.”

“Public life is not a beauty contest, Ross. I’m fighting wars on many, many fronts. M’learned friend, Mr Hennessy Coghlan-O’Hara, has been given a date for our next court hearing on the whole Women in Politics charade.”

“This is the one when you’re going to try to prove that the Constitution is unconstitutional?”

"Hennessy has put together some wonderful arguments. He ran them past me over a couple of John Shanahan's petit filets last night. You know, by the end of the night, he had me convinced that not only was the Constitution unconstitutional but that the Republic of Ireland doesn't even exist as a sovereign state!"

“And this is what passes for a fun night out in the legal world, is it?”

"Oh, around and around the conversation went – intellectual circles and existential figure-eights. By the end of it, I was questioning whether I even existed. Although we'd put away a couple of bottles of Nuits-Saint-Georges at that stage – a 2011, if you don't mind!"

“Why don’t you just give the whole thing up?”

“Now you sound like Michael McDowell. Know what he calls me? Charles O’Carroll-Kelly – the Supreme Court Jester! Oh, he can be terribly witty can Michael. Repartee? You don’t know the bloody half of it!”

“You’re making total orses of yourselves. I hope you realise that.”

“This is all good stuff, Ross. Keep the counter arguments coming.”

"I can't wait to see Denis O'Brien wipe the floor with you in the High Court. That's going to be hilarious to watch."

Denis O’Brien is claiming that he alone is entitled to have Denis O’Brien hair and that the old man’s wig is a breach of his intellectual property rights.

“Denis?” the old man goes. “Denis is just a kid. No, he’s never come up against the likes of Charles O’Carroll-Kelly before. He’s about to discover that I’m no scrumhalf of a man.”

"Well, he gave us Johnny Sexton back," I go. "I know whose side I'm on."

“Then you might end up being disappointed.”

“Why don’t you just admit it? You haven’t had a good day since you put that thing on your head. You lost the election. You lost your wife. Why don’t you just swallow your pride and tell Helen you want her back? She was the best thing about you.”

“I’ll do no such thing! If Helen wants to come back, she can apologise to me for her disloyalty.”

I realise there’s no point in even talking to him, so I leave him to it. I tip down to the study to help myself to whatever’s in the safe.

And that’s when I see it on his desk. A letter from Helen’s solicitor, telling him that she’s initiated divorce proceedings – and to be out of the house in one week.