The Rewind

'I've Asked For It Hundreds Of Times But They Can't Show It To Me Because It Belongs To U2'

'I've Asked For It Hundreds Of Times But They Can't Show It To Me Because It Belongs To U2'

Such was the demand for U2's appearance at Slane Castle in 2001, a second concert - held a week later - had to be added. The second gig clashed with Ireland's crucial World Cup qualifier against the Netherlands in Dublin. That left Ardal O'Hanlon with a decision to make.

Earlier that year, he had partaken in a Father Ted Q&A in New York.

"Only a handful of people showed up - 20 or 30 people at most," the actor and comedian told Jarlath Regan's An Irishman Abroad podcast.

"There was one guy who was asking quite a lot of nerdy questions - a very slight, bespectacled young man. They were nerdy in the sense that they were obscure, questions that only a die hard Ted fan would ask. 'What was Mrs Doyle's first time?' or something like that - which incidentally nobody knows apart from me.

"It turned out that was Moby, who was as big as it gets in music at the time. He was absolutely huge - he'd just released that Play album.

"Fast forward six months. I got the call the day before Ireland were playing Holland in a World Cup qualifier. There was a big concert at Slane with 80,000 people. U2 were headlining and Moby was the main supporting act. I get this call that Moby wants me to go down to Slane with him and sing 'My Lovely Horse' in front of 80,000 people.

"I said there's nothing I'd love more - daunting as it was - than to do that but I was committed to the match. It was a big deal, Ireland were on the verge of qualifying. I wasn't going to miss it for the world.

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"But they said they could work around that: 'Moby will pick you up in a helicopter after the match at 5:30pm and you can soar down to Slane, sweep in over the crowd'. It was just myself and Moby in the helicopter. We couldn't talk to each other because we had these big cans on us.

"We got off the helicopter, quickly rehearsed the words of the song. Little did I know that he was going to do the fancy, dream version of the song. I only know the really crap version that Ted and Dougal do during the Euro song competition. It was an amazing experience, so odd."

O'Hanlon said that footage of him singing on stage with Moby does exist. Despite it being a friend of his who filmed it, he has never seen it.

"I remember standing on the side of the stage thinking, 'This is slightly overwhelming now'," said O'Hanlon.

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"When I heard my name being called out to welcome me on stage, I had no idea what type of reaction I was going to get but Father Ted was pretty big, even then.

"The audience responded really well to Moby's idea. I thought it was a crazy idea, that it wouldn't work.

"I just remember the physical reaction: I kind of went blind; I lost my sense of hearing. I felt the energy of the crowd. I never understood what people talked about when they talked about the energy of the crowd; I'm used to playing in front of 1,000, maybe 1,500 people at most, often much, much smaller.

"There was just this wave of energy that almost knocked me off my feet. It was an assault on my senses. I vaguely remember getting through the song but I don't remember it.

"It's actually a bit strange. I had two good friends who happened to be filming some documentary stuff for U2 - they have it. One of them is a really well-known cinematographer named Seamus McGarvey who is flying in Hollywood; the other is Enda Hughes who is a director. They have it and I've asked Enda for it hundreds of times but they can't show it to me because it belongs to U2."

Picture credit: Christian Bertrand / Shutterstock.com / David Maher / SPORTSFILE / RTÉ / YouTube

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