There is no such thing as an Irish celebrity
Community means everyone, including international superstars.
When I was 19 years old, I walked down Grafton Street in a pair of Carbrini tracksuit bottoms and ratty Asic runners.
I was peeking my head into each shop, seeing if I could find an early birthday present for my dad.
I looked into a fancy shoe shop, carried on, and then stopped and turned on my heel.
Tommy Tiernan was admiring a pair of lovely brógs, only a few weeks after the premiere of his RTÉ chat show.
I knew I had to say hello, but I couldn't think on how to broach the subject.
I walked into the shop, surrounded by Armani and Dune, looking like I was casing the place for a late night raid.
I stood beside him, picked up a few shoes, and then turned to him like your parent meeting a friend from school.
"Ah Tommy, how are ye getting on?" I said.
Without even a moment's hesitation, Tommy greeted me the same way.
"Well boy, I'm doing grand, and yourself?" he replied.
It felt like I had bumped into my uncle in the local shops, except I was talking to one of Ireland's most successful comedians fresh off the debut of a brand new show.
Had the craic with Tommy Tiernan in a shoe shop, what is my life
— Hugh Carr (@hughcarrhere) January 26, 2017
There is no such thing as an Irish celebrity.
There are only people who have done well in their respective field, but it doesn't give them any excuse to be treated differently.
You wouldn't tweet about how happy you are that Shannon down the road got a promotion at work, so why would you be buzzing for U2 to be nominated for a Grammy?
In Ireland, we tend to take a completely different view to celebrities than in somewhere like the United States, for example.
We don't have any Kardashian style family conglomerates that ultimately register as more brand deal than living breathing person.
The closest thing we have to a famous family is the Gleesons, and even they are famously treated like anyone else.
One story in particular that always gets bandied about whenever the topic of Irish celebrities comes up is Domhnall Gleeson being totally ignored on the Dart as passengers were too distracted by a dog in the carriage.
Mental image of Domhnall Gleeson being asked to lean back to give a clear shot of the dalmatian.
— Cathy B (@cathyby) June 2, 2019
Even the image of Hozier internationally compared to Ireland is a major case of wildly different perspectives.
To the Americans, Hozier is something from the annals of Tolkien, a shimmering wood elf who's appeared from the fey wild to share songs and stories of yore from times gone by.
In Ireland, he's Andrew from Bray.
He's your brother's friend who was at every dingy open mic night with his guitar and who your mum asks if he's "still at the music".
Our disdain for putting people on pedestals goes so far as to extend that same treatment to celebrities who visit here.
Patrick Dempsey became a curious tourist, snapping pics around Dublin in an Inis Meáin jumper.
Frankie Boyle has family in Donegal, but you wouldn't know he was around unless your auntie had spotted him in the shop the week before.
But the highlight has to have been Matt Damon being stuck in Dalkey during the pandemic.
A New York Times reporter was told in no uncertain terms to piss off and leave him alone when they asked locals for stories and pictures of the Hollywood star.
— Orla (@MollyBl00m) April 17, 2020
Damon was no longer an actor from the silver screen; he was your cousin from America who you only usually see at weddings and funerals.
He became a part of the furniture, just another random swimmer on the beach, SuperValu bag in tow.
Irish people know not to put anyone on a pedestal, because they know they would hate it themselves.
A touching moment of community was seen this week after Marty Morrissey's mother, Peggy Twomey, tragically passed away as the result of a single-vehicle collision.
From social media comments to personal shared tributes, it was clear to see that Irish people didn't treat this as a loss for someone they didn't intimately know.
It felt as though a close friend had lost someone near to them, even if we had never met them in the first place.
The funeral tradition in Ireland is unique enough as it is, with a strong sense of a community coming together.
That same tradition extends out to celebrities as well, where success doesn't bring the same alienation from the layman as it would in other places.
All of us @LadiesFootball are deeply saddened to learn of the sad passing of Peggy Twomey, mother of one of our great friends, @MartyM_RTE
Our thoughts and prayers are with Marty at this very sad time
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dílis 🕯 pic.twitter.com/vemnfhaODE
— Ladies Football (@LadiesFootball) December 8, 2021
The reason why Irish people don't believe in celebrities is a simple one.
We are all only one or two degrees of separation from each other.
I can guarantee that anyone reading this article could be only two or three phone calls away from speaking to an Oscar winner, an Olympic champion, or even a humble JOE writer.
It's difficult not to root for those that have gone far, as they are a tangible part of our lives and memories.
But in the same vein, we couldn't possibly give them a big head, because then it's all they would go on about, and who needs that?
The Irish celebrity does not exist, and to be perfectly frank on the matter... we're a better place for it.