It's cool and crazy, with just the right amount of cheese

August 11th, 2016 11:55 AM

By Southern Star Team

Graham Norton with Marie Ryan from Straffan in Co Kildare, Helen O'Brien from Tipperary and Sinead Christian, also from Straffan.

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IT would be hard to beat the Ahakista Festival Table Quiz, with host Graham Norton, for a good night out in West Cork.

This reporter’s 5am start (last June) to queue for one of the coveted ‘golden tickets’ for the annual fun fest, was certainly worth the effort.

The fourth, but already legendary, table quiz, in aid of the Ahakista Community Association, is a strange yet wonderful mix of cool and cheese.

It’s cool because tickets for ‘Graham’s Quiz’ are the West Cork equivalent of centre court tickets for Wimbledon, but a lot more fun. And it’s cheesy because, well, spending the night in a heaving marquee, answering questions on everything from Eurovision to Fr Ted, balancing several quiz sheets on the world’s smallest pub table, which itself is draped in sparkly gold vinyl fabric, surely ranks as cheese with a capital Blue.

But if you’re a fan of the Norton one, then it all makes perfect sense.

Along with the ridiculously daft prizes (the perpetual trophy was momentarily on the missing list, so the ‘second prize’ crystal vase had its fifteen minutes of fame as a temporary replacement), the wonderfully efficient Foroige-trained table staff, and the constant calls to repeat questions, it was a bit like a night in Fr Noel Furlong’s caravan – on speed.

But that was okay, too, because Fr Noel himself (aka Graham in Fr Ted), even made an appearance, as a quiz question. There were wonderfully odd and highly unpredictable rounds of questioning – eight in total – all executed with the usual aplomb by the quick-witted Bandon man.

Obviously very comfortable in his summer residence of Ahakista, Graham seemed to know half the participants, and was happy to pose for photographs with the rest.

Before, during and after the almost-four hours of quiz-mastering, Graham was dragged here, there and everywhere for selfies, group shots and family photos with what seemed like the entire summer population of West Cork.

Hands up here: I was one of the draggers. Or, at least, my sister was. Having arrived just minutes earlier from Clare, she wasn’t going to let the opportunity of a photo with her favourite TV host slide by as quick as an Irish summer. She didn’t even wait for the quiz. Having what I thought was a leisurely drink outside Arundel’s before the show kicked off, I suddenly found an iphone being thrust into my hand, and my Guinness being whisked away, as she dragged me over to the great man himself. Next thing she had flung both herself and himself in front of the phone and click, click, she had her treasured shot. 

But it was all in a night’s work for Graham, who didn’t seem to mind a bit. (That’s what you think – Ed.) And indeed, there were probably several hundred more selfies taken before the West Cork man was allowed to retire to his waterfront residence across the road, for the night.

Never mind your Madonnas and Mark Walhberg’s, this West Cork audience are hard work.

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