Tommy O’Brien is my Da.
He joined me as my guest on The Coffee at Eleven Show for Episode 82, mere weeks before he himself turned 82!
He’s a legend. Phenomenal salesman in his day, avid gardener, tin-pot poet (in his own words) and singer of songs that tell a story… Mad about the Ma too (also 82) and dead proud of their five ‘childer’dn’, 16 grand and 4 great grand-chislers.
He lives life every single day.
Stick on the kettle, grab a coffee and grant yourself a few minutes of ‘You Time’. The ‘Tommy’ episode was a firm audience favourite; guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.
We Were There When… The Da Joined Me As My Guest And Serenaded The Coffee at Eleven Show Audience #CoffeewithColm
Yours Truly: Very good morning, ladies and gentlemen. You are more than welcome to another episode. This is episode 82, can’t believe it, of the Coffee at Eleven Show, brought to you by Wig-Wam.ie, SME Peer Support. Delighted to have you join us here this morning for a very special episode of the show, and that’s because the person in the hot seat is my dad. My dad, Tommy O’Brien, the legend that is. So, dad, you’ve very welcome. Please say hello to us all, and show us your coffee mug. Thank you.
Dad: Thanks Colm, indeed. Lovely to be with you all, and I wish you all well. How about that on a coffee mug? Tommy O’Brien singing in Grafton Street.
Yours Truly: Listen, dad, I want to get into your poetry, if you wouldn’t mind. Would you mind reading us a poem?
Dad: So, this poem is about Colm’s eldest child, Shóna. And it’s called Shóna’s Braces.
Braces were things when I was a chap, for to hold up me trousers, a kind of a strap. Four holes in the front, with buttons to the brace, they cross at the back to keep them in place. We never asked questions for this is the way we held up our trousers, what more can I say?
Till along came a belt, a strap made of plastic. No sooner than done and they’d put in elastic. The world it went wild with this new fancy look, trousers all neat without any tuck. They fit like a glove, all neat round the waist, braces were gone, removed at great haste.
However, my granddaughter, Shóna so sweet. Said she’s got braces put onto her teeth. I said, “You’re joking, are they falling about?” “Oh no,” she said, “Grandad, it’s to straighten them out.”
I still couldn’t fathom, or was I just dumb? Braces were for trousers, and not for the gum. How on earth could she start to put them in place? Sure the whole thing is mad, she’ll be a disgrace.
So, down I went to fair Limerick City, this granddaughter of mine to hug and to pity. As she opened her mouth, I tried to admire, but just couldn’t do it. She’d a mouth full of wire.
She said it was tough on her trying to eat. The feeling was strange, from her head to her feet. But barbed wire for breakfast, dinner, and tea, you’d be all torn to pieces, it just baffled me.
But when we sat down and started to talk, and I listened and learned, and I didn’t balk about this procedure, this revolutionary fangle, that would put back in place those teeth at an angle. Strange though it was, it seemed to be working, despite the weird thoughts in my mind that were lurking. She braved it all through, two years of endurance. Her prize though, well worth it, nice teeth her insurance.
I look at her now, a queen to behold. And though she’s only 17 years old, she’s tall, fair and gentle, nothing dark, nothing shady. A granddaughter I’m proud of, a gorgeous young lady.
Yours Truly: Rapturous silent applause all around the world, actually. We have a truly international audience this morning. Listen, thanks for that, dad. You have your guitar with you and Amon Smith is going to put up… come here, he’s blaming Tom Murphy for introducing him to the Ma, right? The Ma was bride of the month in June 1961. Now, nothing wrong with that, like.
Dad: Ey, ah now. Who couldn’t fall for that lady?
Yours Truly: There you go. So, that’s the Ma, 1961. Eamonn, thank you for that, you can leave that up. Dad, would you sing The Ring’s End Rose for us, will you?
Dad: Oh yeah.
Yours Truly: With the backdrop. And, Eamonn, we’ll hold onto that last picture that I spoke about for a few moments, if that’s okay. So, when this is finished, take that one down, if you don’t mind. Thank you, Eamonn.
Introduce the song, there, dad.
Dad: Well, Pete St. John wrote this. He wrote The Fields of Athenry, of course. I was telling your lady friend there earlier that Joan and I spent our honeymoon in the fields of Athenry. First night in Athenry, we spent our first night on honeymoon. But Pete St. John wrote the song My Ring’s End Rose. Apparently, he fancied this girl and she didn’t fancy him. This is a true story. But pretty well, I mightn’t have all the detail, but anyway. When he was trying to court the daughter he had to meet the mother, and sees the mother and fancies her more than the daughter did. Now, there were nothing untoward going on, by the way. Anyway, it’s called My Ring’s End Rose. There’s a little chorus to it. You might know it, join in.
Yours Truly: One more song that uncle John introduced you to, would you mind? And then we’ll go to Shelly for comment, if that’s okay.
Dad: Yeah, certainly.
Yours Truly: So, here’s dad and his four brothers, right?
Dad: Oh, yes, yes, yes.
Yours Truly: This is in my brother Ger’s house some years back. And what you have there is the five O’Brien brothers, dad and his four, and they’re going from right to left in your screen, anticlockwise if you like, in terms of eldest, second eldest, and so on. Youngest off to the left. And then Carol is the eldest in our family, then yours truly, Ger in the middle, Tricia, and then the baby, Dónal over the far side. So, we just thought that was a lovely photograph.
Dad: Yeah, leave that for a bit, Colm.
Yours Truly: Yeah, we’re going to leave that picture, if you wouldn’t mind, dad, because uncle John introduced you to a particular…
Yeah, there was five of us in the family, and we all were different, of course. Steven, he was the eldest, he went to South Africa for 17 years. The next that’s below Colm is my brother, John, who I was very friendly with. We were pals. And he emigrated to England 60 years ago, but I still visit him. He lived in Wales, he married a Welsh girl. Then next to that is Fran, he’s a professional singer, and Gerald’s above him. Then next is meself, and Patricia above me there. And then the next is my other brother, Michael, he went to Canada 30 years ago, and Dónal behind him.
So, John, behind Colm, or below Colm, there. He and I were very close and [Sunday to Saturday 00:09:29], John [Bowman 00:09:30], he said, “Thomas, did you hear that song? Did you hear such-and-such? Did you hear the story today? I heard a great song.” So, not long, John died, Lord have mercy on him, last year. And just before he died, maybe two months before that, he rang me one day. He said, “I was in the car today,” I be Thomas to the family. “Thomas,” he said, “I heard a song,” says he. “I think you’d like it.”
So, of course when he told me what it was I listened to it. Willie Nelson and Kimmie Rhodes recorded it, two famous American folk singer/songwriters. It’s called I Always Go the Other Way. And when I’m entertain the old folk, I say, “I don’t know where you’re all from, but wherever you’re from I’m sure whenever you go back to your home place, you always say, ‘Oh, gosh, there’s the house I was raised in,’ or, ‘There was a little shop down the road’ or, ‘There was a forge down there,’ or whatever it was.” So, this song is called I Always Go the Other Way, and I always dedicate it to my brother, John.
Watch the full interview here: https://youtu.be/XBs9EmxWA7I
Connect with Tommy here: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011256347390
Come back next week for another installment of “We were there when…” from a guest who had Coffee with Colm on The Coffee at Eleven Show, brought to you by WIG-WAM – Business Coaching