Biography


  “Craic, Humour and Song” 

Celebrating the Humour Heritage and Nostalgia of Ireland in song.

By: Shay Healy

Richie Kavanagh is an IRMA award winning entertainer who writes and performs his own artistic and creative songs. Famous for the number one hit song ‘Aon Focal Eile’, he now has a number of hits to his name. Wherever he goes, humorist, folklorist and songwriter Richie in his bright dungarees and his multi-coloured cap, is regarded as “one of our own” He generates goodwill effortlessly and people flock to him naturally. He has plugged straight into that part of Ireland that begins where the Naas carriageway ends, Now Ireland’s favourite entertainer, psoriasis crippled Richie’s hands at the age of 44 but instead of throwing in the towel, Richie harnessed his talents as a singer/songwriter and burst onto the national entertainment scene with the song Aon Focal Eile. Tony Keogh in Southeast Radio was the first man to play the CD and when Gerry Ryan began spinning it on his morning show, the song became a runaway hit and stayed at No.1 in the Irish charts for 7 weeks. and won Richie RICHIE NEW CDan IRMA award for Best Single of the Year in Ireland for 1996.20 years later, Richie, to his surprise and delight, is still packing venues in Ireland, England, America and Monte Carlo.. He is one of only a handful of artists around who is uniquely himself – instantly recognisable when you hear the very first bars of any of his songs. “Aon Focal Eile”, “The Mobile Phone”, “Mickey’s Buckin Ass, “Chicken Talk”, ”Stay Wut Her Johnny” etc.To date he has recorded 18 CD Albums, filmed 10 DVDs and has had 7 Singles in the IRMA Top 30 hits.Now Ireland’s No.1 Comedy Songwriter, he is one of the friendliest entertainers on Tour today – entertaining crowds of all ages.

Richie in battle with Parkinson’s 

Richie to continue on in the entertainment business after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.He’ll continue to perform as long as his voice holds up.The performer was diagnosed with the disease on January 6  2011 now on medication he feels he already has more energy and is planning to release a new album in September.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 When it comes to songwriters there is none better then Richie Kavanagh. I think he is fantastic.

 Daniel O’Donnell Sunday World.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Aon Focal, Dha Focal, lots Of Focal Eile With Richie….

Lynda Connolly talks to unique entertainer Richie Kavanagh about his friend Gerry Ryan, living with psoriasis, going to the cinema in a cowshed, and more

IT’S TWENTY YEARS since Humorist, Folklorist, Songwriter and Unique Entertainer Richie Kavanagh first hit the national airwaves singing about potholes. Over the years he made a name for himself singing novelty songs about the Humour Heritage and Nostalgia of Ireland  ”Aon Focal Eile” Danoli, ‘The Mobile Phone”  Chicken Talk,  Stay Wut Her Johnny, ”My Wife Johnny’s Morris Minor”  A Teenager in 1968, His Name It Is Joe Dolan,  Fagan’s Chipper Van,  Face Her For Mount Leinster, The Little Honda Fifty, Me  First Marquee Dance, John TyndallMe Little Jack RussellI Love The Smell Of SilageMickey’s Buckin’ Ass,  Get Out Your Focal Leabhair, A Travelin Man  Keep The Shovel Tipping, The Ferguson Tractor, ETC, 

Sitting at home at the kitchen table in Garryhill, amongst the Blackstairs Mountains, Richie looks back fondly on the past twenty years but is quick to point out that there’s still plenty of craic to be had.

After taking a break last winter due to a bad case of psoriasis, he has dusted off his cap and is ready to get back on the road entertaining crowds at vintage days, agricultural shows and street festivals.

‘I’d do anything from a palace to a tinkers camp,’ he laughed. ‘No crowd is too small or too big. I just love the buzz of it, it’s my dream.’

He was in more sombre mood than usual last week though, as he travelled to Dublin on Thursday to say farewell to broadcaster Gerry Ryan, whom he has always given credit to for helping to launch his career.

‘The funeral was very sad,’ he said. ‘Everyone from the entertainment business was there and his wife and kids said a nice few words.

Joe Duffy and Dave Fanning were very upset.’

Richie bumped in to fellow comedian Brendan Grace at the funeral and even during the sad event, he was still inspired to come up with an idea.

‘Brend a n Grace was wobbling around. I asked him how his foot was because he lost a toe and I told him that I was going to write a song about the man with nine toes!’ he laughed.

‘But I owe everything to Gerry,’ he added. ‘He was a man that you could easily approach. I often left here at five o’clock in the morning to be at the RTE studios by seven o’clock to catch him on his way in to work and the lads at the security gate knew me, they’d say are you here to see Gerry.

‘No matter what new song I gave him he would always play it.’

Richie’s son and manager James had been speaking with Gerry shortly before he died. To mark his 20 years of recording the singer/songwriter is putting out a CD and DVD in time for Christmas, and Gerry had promised to play it on his morning show.

‘He was always very willing to give us exposure,’ he said.

‘Just a few weeks before he died, he hit a pothole and broke the suspension on his car, so he played the pothole song. It was great to hear it on the radio after so many years. ‘He was a big fan and I’ll miss him terrible.’ It is a great love of entertaining that keeps Richie on stage despite struggling with the skin ailment psoriasis. It crippled his hands at the age of 44 but instead of throwing in the towel, he continued on and now attributes it to his colourful image.

‘My hands are so sore that I have to wear gloves and I have my hair long and I wear a cap to cover the psoriasis on my ears,’ he said. ‘I started wearing dungarees with the pothole song to look like the lads in the council, and I kind of got my image that way.’

His psoriasis worsened last winter and he had to spend most of his time indoors but he is now in better health and ready to get back on the entertainment circuit. ‘It was a good time of the year for it to be bad though because the roads are slippy and it’s too dangerous to be out in the early hours travelling to shows.

‘I’m ready for the summer now.’

Richie was born in 1949 in Raheenwood, near Fenagh in Carlow, at a time when the houses had no electricity or bathrooms but there was one thing that

the Kavanagh household did have and held in high importance: an old battery PYE radio.

‘At night we would sit around the open fire and listen to Maureen Potter, Dingo and Joe Lynch doing comedy sketches on the radio,’ said Richie.

Twice a year a travelling show would make its way to Garyhill and put up a great big tent in a field and locals would arrive in huge numbers to see the variety shows, sketches and song.

‘There were some great auld characters in it,’ said Richie.

He first got the buzz for entertaining in 1957 when the ESB brought electricity to his part of the country. ‘Tommy Hogan who lived in Garyhill had a cowhouse at the back of his place and he converted it in to a cinema. It was there at eight years of age that I would go every Sunday with a tanner in me hand. That was a sixpence, by the way!’

The films that young Richie loved to see featured Laurel and Hardy, Mother Reilly and Norman Wisdom.

Norman Wisdon was his hero and three years ago he had the thrill of his life when he was invited to the home of the comedian in the Isle of Man for tea.

The meeting was set up by Richie’s daughterin-law Aoife Kavanagh, who was asked by Norman when he agreed to the visit, ‘how old is the child?’

‘Well, the child was 58,’ laughed Richie. ‘I had the time of my life. At 94 years of age Norman Wisdom was still jumping about all over the place singing and dancing.’

The first time Richie ever went on stage was when he was eight years old. His school teacher at Garyhill NS Mrs Ryan ran a concert in the village hall and Richie stood up in front of everyone and sang ‘Silver Threads Among the Gold’.

‘I got the buzz then and it became my hobby after that,’ he said.

In the 1960s he really took to this hobby and became involved in to tops of the parish and local parish concerts and writing sketches for the ICA women and Macra groups who were putting on performances in the local hall.

In the 1970s he took part in the GAA’s Scór competition, putting on novelty shows, and managed to make it to four or five All Ireland

finals. By the 1980s he started doing stand up comedy at charity shows.

‘I was asked to take part in the John Player Tops of the Town as a guest star and I did stand up comedy, this helped me develop my own one man show,’ he recalled.

It was in the 1990s that things really started to kick off for Richie when local radio started.

‘I got the idea that if I could get on to the radio I might get a few gigs,’ he said.

‘I went to the boss man of CKR at the time, Michael Moriarty, and told him about what I was doing and asked him if there was any way that I could get on the radio doing comedy.

‘He said he had seen my act but for the radio it would be better if I recorded a song, so that’s what I did.’

His singing career started when he wrote a song about well-known DJ on the station, Christy Walsh. Michael Moriarty was true to his word and the song got massive airplay locally.

Richie was enjoying this new found fame so he decided to write another song that would appeal to national radio stations.

‘There were load of potholes in the roads at the time so I wrote the pothole song,’ he said. ‘It turned out to be very popular and got me my first gold disc.’

Hazel Records approached Richie about making a record and he recorded the Pothole album which enjoyed received huge airplay in Ireland and England.

In 1995 he released The Travelling Man Album, which included Aon Focal Eile, and his career was taken to new heights.

‘People in the recording studio said it would never be played on radio but thankfully everyone seen the humour in it.

‘Some DJs were a bit shy to play it but Tony Kehoe from South East Radio was the first to give it a go and then Gerry Ryan got hold of it and started playing it.’

The song spent seven weeks at number one and stayed in the Top 30 Charts for 28 weeks,, knocking ”Take That” off the top spot.

Richie received an IRMA award in 1996 for having the Top Single of the Year and a triple platinum disc for sales.

‘That’s when my dream came true. In 1996, I became a full-time entertainer and I thank Gerry Ryan for this.’

These days Richie spends his time doing a lot of open air festivals, agricultural shows, vintage rally’s, street fairs, theatres, hotels and race ‘I do a lot of colleges too like UCD and the ITs too in Dublin and Athlone.

‘The students were only seven or eight when Aon Focal Eile was out but they still know the words. I’ll start the chorus and they’ll sing it back to me. I’m like their Norman Wisdom I suppose,’ he added laughing. ‘It’s still all about having the craic.’ After 20 years he still has no shortage of ideas for songs and carries a dictaphone with him on car journeys or out walking in case something pops in to his head.

‘I could be driving home from a gig at night when something would pop in to my head. You would think that there couldn’t be any more but they still just keep coming together.

‘You know you have something when you have a good chorus.

‘Like Aon Focal Eile, I had no idea how big that would be. I was afraid I’d get a slagging from the Irish speaking people but the boss man in Glór na Gael wrote me a very nice letter thanking me for having a song with a full Irish title in the charts. It was a long time since that happened.’ Still very much a family man Richie never travels to a show without his family by his side. He married his wife Nancy in 1971 and they had five children pat, Olivia, John and twins James and Richard.

The family are involved in all aspects of his career and have often featured in his videos.

‘James looks after me now,’ says Richie. ‘He also does all the camera work and Richard does the graphics. It’s great to have them around.”You know you have something when you have a good chorus.

‘Like Aon Focal Eile, I had no idea how big that would be. I was afraid I’d get a slagging from the Irish speaking people but the boss man in Glór na Gael wrote me a very nice letter thanking me for having a song with a full Irish title in the charts. It was a long time since that happened.’ Still very much a family man Richie never travels to a show without his family by his side. He married his wife Nancy in 1971 and they had five children pat, Olivia, John and twins James and Richard.

The family are involved in all aspects of his career and have often featured in his videos.

‘James looks after me now,’ says Richie. ‘He also does all the camera work and Richard does the graphics. It’s great to have them around.’