Paul Howard

LifeWorksCriticismCommentaryQuotationsReferencesNotes

Life
1971- ; [nom-de-plume "Ross O’Carroll-Kelly" - cf. Rock (Blackrock Coll.)]; brought up in Ballybrack; Sunday Tribune sports-writer; winner of Sports Writer award; author of the Irish Times “Ross O’Carroll-Kelly” column and books in the same vein featuring the first-person narrator Ross, a member of the rugby-playing classes in Foxrock, Co. Dublin, and a pupil at the fictional Castlerock College; issued The Joy (1996); The Gaffers (2002), on the Mick McCarthy-Roy Keane fracas at the 2002 World Cup;
 
ghosted Steve Collins, Celtic Warrior (1995), the Irish boxer’s autobiography; issued spin-off, Ross O’Carroll-Kelly’s Guide to South Dublin (2007), followed by This Champagne Mojito is the Last Thing I Own (2007); and and South Dublin: How to Get By on, Like, 10,000 Euro a Day (2007); has made TV and radio appearances; issued The Oh My God Delusion (2010); issued The Shelbourne Ultimatum (2012), 11th in the series; issued Downturn Abbey (2013) - the title being a pastiche of the British upstairs-downstairs soap Downton Abbey adapted to the Irish economic ’bust”; writes "Breaking Dad", a satire based on the American TV series.

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Works
As Paul Howard
  • The Joy (Dublin: O’Brien Press 1996), 189pp.;
  • The Gaffers: Mick McCarthy, Roy Keane and the Team They Built (Dublin: O’Brien Press 2002), 219pp.;
  • Hostage: Notorious Irish Kidnappings (Dublin: O’Brien Press 2004), 253pp., ill. [8pp. of pls., ports].
  • [with Steve Collins], Celtic Warrior (Dublin: O’Brien Press 1995), 210pp., ill. [18pp. pls.];
 
As Ross O’Carroll-Kelly [or Ross O’Carroll-Kelly, as told to Paul Howard:]
  • The Teenage Dirt-bag Years [as told to Paul Howard] (Dublin: O’Brien Press 2001; enl. 2003), 271pp., ill. [Alan Clarke];
  • The Orange Mocha-chip Frappuccino Years [as told to Paul Howard] (Dublin: O’Brien Press 2003), 206pp.;
  • PS, I Scored the Bridesmaids [as told to Paul Howard] (Dublin: O’Brien Press 2004), 267pp. ill. [Alan Clarke];
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightdress [as told to Paul Howard] (Penguin Ireland 2005), 302pp., ill. [Alan Clarke];
  • Ross O’Carroll-Kelly’s Guide to South Dublin: How to Get On, Like, €10,000 a Day (Penguin Ireland 2007), 256pp.;
  • Should Have Got Off at Sydney Parade [pb. edn.] (Penguin Ireland 2007), 304pp.;
  • This Champagne Mojito is the Last Thing I Own (Penguin Ireland 2007), 368pp.;
  • Mr. S and the Secrets of Andorra’s Box (Dublin: Penguin 2008), 350pp.;
  • We Need to Talk about Ross (Penguin Ireland 2009), 256pp.;
  • The Oh My God Delusion (Penguin Ireland 2010), 422pp.;
  • The Shelbourne Ultimatum (Penguin Ireland 2012), 414pp.
  • Downturn Abbey (Penguin Ireland 2013), 406pp.
  • Raiders of the Lost Dork (2014)
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[ See interview with Roisin Ingle on The Irish Times (28.04.2014). ]
Howard relates his childhood experience living in a working-class estate beside Killiney’s “Poshland” and his experience on being invited to give a pre-match talk to the Blackrock senior rugby side - where his Ross Carroll-O’Kelly column and books are set.
Howard tells that he got his first bank loan to buy a Wang computer at £2,000 - with his father’s house as guarantee - and was cold-called with a postal offer of £10,000 from the bank five years later, heralding the arrival of the Celtic Tiger. ... Still holds that the Irish believe in the property market, inflated house prices, a debt-fuelled economy, &c.

See also ‘Ali and me: struck dumb by the presence of genius’ - an account of meeting with Mohammed Ali [formerly Cassius Clay] in a hotel elevator, when the bellman at the front of the Meadowlands Hilton allowed him to carry up Ali’s bags in order to meet “The Champ”. (Irish Times, 25 Feb. 2014 - online.)

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Criticism
  • Clare Gorman, The Undecidable: Jacques Derrida and Paul Howard (Cambridge Scholars 2016), 98pp.
  • Katherine Farmar, ‘A one-joke southside guide’, review of Ross O’Carroll-Kelly’s Guide to South Dublin, in The Irish Times (9 June 2007), Weekend [see extract];
  • Adam Brophy, ‘Getting it “Roysh” is Howard’s Way’, in The Irish Times (13 June 2007) - a response to Farmar, supra [see extract];
  • Dan Sheehan, ‘Roysh on the money’, in The Irish Times (9 October 2010), Weekend Review, p.10 [see extract];
  • Patrick Freyne, ‘It’s Good to Know We Can Rely on Ross’, in The Irish Times (13 Oct. 2012), Weekend, p.10 [see extract].

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Commentary
Katherine Farmar, ’A one-joke southside guide’, review of Paul Howard, Ross O’Carroll-Kelly’s Guide To South Dublin, in The Irish Times (9 June 2007), Weekend: ‘The funniest parts of the Guide to South Dublin are the parts that take Ross O’Carroll-Kelly’s typical bluntness and apply it to targets he’s too self-involved or not bright enough to aim for, carefully treading the fine line between fact and fantasy. Thus we have the Guide on Foxrock: “Foxrock has no roads named after republican heroes - dying for Ireland was always considered a terribly working class idea here.” On Blackrock College: “Among its famous alumni are Eamon de Valera and John Charles McQuaid, former Taoiseach and former Archbishop of Dublin respectively, who helped shape modern Ireland - or, rather, the Ireland that came before modern Ireland, which to be honest was a bit of a shithole.” And on the 46A: “The 46A also passes through Monkstown during a long and circuitous journey that also takes in Ayers Rock, Angkor Wat and the Puerto Moreno Glacier.” / The book is peppered with gems like this. Unfortunately, there are long stretches that aren’t that funny, either because they’re too factual or because they’re not factual enough.’

Quote: “The first money I earned after leaving school was as a postcard caption writer for John Hinde”

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Adam Brophy, ‘Getting it “roysh” is Howard’s way’, in The Irish Times (Wed., 13 June 2007): ‘[…] After travelling a small part of the world and discovering an affinity for the less salubrious sides of big cities, I came home and settled on the northside of Dublin. I would like to say it was to align myself with what Gavin Friday once called the “Scorcese-esque cool” of the northside, but it was purely economic. Yet here I sit still, never to be truly accepted and loving it. And here my children have been born and, thus far, raised. […; On the accent of his younger daughter:] Shockingly, it is pure Sorcha (Ross’s soon-to-be ex-wife) with only a touch of Sharon from The Snapper. When she wants to share in another child’s game, she will say, “Giz a shot”, but in the next breath go on to gush that “like, oh my God, Gwen Stefani’s top in that interview on TRL was sooo cool”. Equating chic with a near-naked popstar is not only a father’s nightmare, it also seems a wonderful synergie of cultures from both sides of the river. And here I am aware I have to tread carefully if I am to have a comfortable stool in bars on either side of that divide. […] My favourite Rock story involves Ross travelling to The Square in Tallaght to retrieve his stolen mobile phone. While expressing his horror en route at the squalour all around him, one of his buddies points out that they’re still in Terenure. It’s funny because it gets under the skin. By the time my kids grow up, nowhere will be quite what it thinks it is.’ (For full-text version, see RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index or attached.)

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Dan Sheehan, ‘Roysh on the money’, in The Irish Times [Sat.] (9 October 2010), Weekend Review, p.10: ‘[...] Howard has taken what should have been a small-scale parody with a rapidly approaching sell-by date and turned it into one of the most enduring satirical figures in the Irish literary canon. Not to mention the fact that, year in, year out, Ross’s puerile misadventures and on-the-nose observations never fail to provoke a laugh-out-loud reaction. The Oh My God Delusion, as expected, is no exception. / Largely concerned with the “tragic” effects of the economic collapse on Ross and his much maligned upper-middle-class cohort – the increase in early-bird menus and the closing of Renards nightclub are received as the end of all things – the book is bursting at the seams with spot-on recession-heavy parody. The comic set pieces are as numerous and as reliably over the top as ever, with Ross’s disastrous appearance at a friend's budget wedding being a particular highlight. / Far from being taken aback by the overnight disintegration of the world he so gleefully ridiculed for more than a decade, Howard – like Ross’s father and his contemporaries, who move seamlessly from one now-defunct enterprise to another burgeoning one (in their cases repossession and murky file-shredding) – simply rolls with the punches and discovers a wealth of new material to twist his cast of misfits around.’ (For full-text version, see RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index or attached.)

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Patrick Freyne, ‘It’s Good to Know We Can Rely on Ross’, review of The Shelbourne Ultimatum, by Ross O’Carroll-Kelly, in The Irish Times (13 Oct. 2012): Weekend [“Arts & Books”]: ‘At a time when most Irish institutions have fallen into disrepute, there’s something comforting about the yearly emergence of a new Ross O’Carroll-Kelly book. A bit of an institution now in his own right, O’Carroll-Kelly is one of a pantheon of anthropomorphic Irelands (others include Cuchulain, Kathleen Ní Houlihan, Dev and Marty Whelan). It’s hard to imagine the place without him, and I believe that, in years to come, heavily footnoted editions of Paul Howard’s long-running series will be the textbooks on early 21st-century Ireland. [...] In a coma (he was shot in the stomach at the end of the last book) he [RO’K] dreams of moving through the streets of a Dublin blighted by phone shops and cash-for-gold outlets. / Before long, our clueless anti-hero is awake and bemoaning the state of his injured six-pack. He tries to sabotage the wedding of his best friend, Fionn, and his half-sister; he blackmails the woman who shot him; and he watches in horror as his estranged wife gets a job in a Euro Saver store. He also crosses the Liffey to go to a GAA match with his northsider son (they meet a lot of “cadickters”), watches his condemned boomtime apartment being demolished, and ends up being mistaken for a plumber by a cuckolded husband who then refers plumbing work to him throughout the book. Furthermore, his Lamborghini is repeatedly graffitied with obscenities, his six-year-old daughter is becoming a brattish child star and he bonds with his sociopathic, hither-to-now presumed-dead grandmother. / That’s an awful lot of plot, but there’s no better man than Ross to guide us through it, gormlessly riding the narrative tension from set piece to set piece. [...] Ross has not, as one character puts it, let failure go to his head and he is still unaccountably happy with himself and content to bask in his former rugby glory. “Ross O’Carroll-Kelly?” asks a voice over the telephone at one juncture. “The one and only accept no substitutes,” answers Ross, before proudly informing the readers: “Which is a thing I sometimes say.” / As usual, characters explode out of their accent-laden stereotypes [...]’ (p.10; for full-text version, see RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index or attached.)

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John Boyne, ‘It’s Good to Know We Can Rely on Ross’, review of The Shelbourne Ultimatum, by Ross O’Carroll-Kelly, in The Irish Times (13 Oct. 2012): Weekend [“Arts & Books”]: A case could be made that by reading the Ross novels from their first appearance, in 2000, until this most recent volume, one can follow a story of arrogance, lust, greed, fear, loss and poverty that defines the Irish century so far. Ross’s narrative is the Irish narrative, and, poised for greatness but somehow coming up short, he personifies the nation. Hearing the infamous Anglo tapes on the radio recently, and the voices of those charmless men speaking like small-town versions of Gordon Gekko, it was hard to believe that adults so lacking in self-awareness could exist. They didn’t sound like sentient members of a profession who theoretically should have some degree of intelligence; they sounded like characters out of a Ross O’Carroll-Kelly novel. Just without the laughs. / Anyone who has been reading these books since Ross was a schoolboy will instantly feel 100 with the revelation in the opening chapter that the underage shenanigans of his 14-year-old son, Ronan, mean Ross is due to become a grandfather. [...] Ross gets his jollies by making as many cracks about his gin-addled mother as he can, hoping that they won’t get edited out before the show airs, but when Fionnuala denies that her son is her top achievement Ross feels “suddenly hurt by that. It’s like I’ve been kicked in the stomach.” And when she goes on to admit that the lack of warmth or affection between them was down to her, it’s a genuinely moving moment and all the more surprising for the fact that there’s no hint of sentimentality or a punchline. / Much of the novel is in fact taken up with questionings of parenting.’ (For full-text version, see RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index or attached.)

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Quotations
Current Economic Blahdy-Blah: ‘Those of you who picked up a copy of the Irish Times-sponsored South Dublin Yummy Mummy Calendar back in 2003 supporting the campaign, to provide Sony Vaios to children in the Developing World - won’t need me to tell you how hord on the eye my old dear actually is, with or without her clothes. / She’s even worse, I can tell you, with a bit of sun on her face. The woman’s been playing golf pretty much every day this week and she looks like she’s been bobbing for apples in a deep-fat fryer. / Friday afternoon, I fall out of bed, then tip downstairs to grab a can of Coke, no intention whatsoever of, like, talking to her? But I walk into the kitchen, roysh, and he’s in there - as in, the old man - and they’re chatting away like bezzy mates, while horsing into the Fair Trade Stem Ginger Cookies, I can’t help but notice. [...’; for full text, see attached.]

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