Brendan O'Connor (media personality)

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Brendan O'Connor
Born 23 January 1970[1]
Cork, Ireland
Residence Dublin, Ireland[2]
Nationality Irish
Education University College Cork (UCC)
Occupation Columnist, television presenter
Employer Sunday Independent, Raidió Teilifís Éireann
Known for
Height 6 ft 4 in (193 cm)[3][4]
Spouse(s) Sarah Caden[4]
Children 2

Brendan O'Connor (born 23 January 1970) is an Irish media personality, columnist, comedian and retired pop star. Presenter of The Saturday Night Show on RTÉ One since 2010, he is also known for his columns in the Sunday Independent newspaper.[5] He is also editor of the newspaper's Life Magazine.[4][6]

O'Connor's pop career included a time as a member of The Frank and Walters. He had one-hit wonder as Fr. Brian & The Fun Loving Cardinals, the comedy song "Who's in the House?", reaching number 3 in the Irish charts.

O'Connor has pursued varied media career over several decades in Ireland. During the 1990s he appeared on Don't Feed the Gondolas, as well as on a number of other TV programmes. During the 2000s he served a member of the judging panel on Raidió Teilifís Éireann's (RTÉ) You're a Star TV talent contest before presenting The Apprentice: You're Fired! and The Saturday Night Show. With a salary of €228,500 in 2011, he is one of RTÉ's highest paid stars.[7]

Early life[edit]

O'Connor grew up in the Bishopstown area of Cork in County Cork.[8][9] He is a past pupil of Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh, Bishopstown, Cork.[3][4] During his time there as a student, he was runner-up in the All-Ireland Schools' Debating Competition. He is also a graduate of University College Cork (UCC)[3][4] — where he was Recording Secretary of the UCC Philosophical Society.[4] He famously lost the Minutes Book of the "Golden Age" at a party.

"Who's in the House" and Don't Feed the Gondolas[edit]

Initially, O'Connor attempted to become a comedian and was also a singer in a number of bands while still a student at UCC, but with limited success, including the band that eventually became The Frank and Walters.[4] He moved to Dublin in the mid-1990s.[4] Soon after this, he started freelance work with the Sunday Independent,[4] one of Ireland's best-selling newspapers. At the same time he also performed a comedy routine at a well-known Dublin venue.[4] He was noticed by TV producers from RTÉ and joined Don't Feed the Gondolas, a comedy television programme broadcast by RTÉ that ran for four seasons.[4] O'Connor was one of the team captains on the panel, and after 2 seasons took over as host.[4]

O'Connor, as a member of the band Fr. Brian & The Fun Loving Cardinals, produced a single, "Who's in the House?",[10] which spent 12 weeks in the Irish Singles Chart, peaking at number 3. The song was a novelty number that played on the popularity of the TV series Father Ted. O'Connor sang it while dressed as a trendy Roman Catholic priest (Fr. Brian) and it featured such lines as:

  • "What's the time? It's time for God",
  • "At the age of 33 he was nailed to a cross - some call him Jesus, I call him boss",
  • "Who’s in the house? The Lord is in the house", and
  • "We're putting the dick back in Benediction."[11]

The name "Fun Lovin' Cardinals" is itself a pun on the band Fun Lovin' Criminals. The character Fr. Brian had appeared on Don't Feed the Gondolas,[12] and the popularity of the song led to its release, and subsequent chart position.

You're a Star TV talent contest[edit]

In 2005, O'Connor made his debut as a judge on Charity You're a Star, a charitable version of the You're a Star TV talent contest. Subsequently, he appeared as a judge on the main series of You're a Star. This was a televised talent show which selected what is deemed to be the best Irish act from among many. The winner was awarded a cash prize and groomed for a career in the entertainment industry. It had a niche following - primarily teenagers. Much of the show's popularity was attributed to the robust manner with which O'Connor treated many of the contestants - many of whom were gullible young hopefuls. He frequently evoked controversy with his comments on the show. However, on You're a Star, O'Connor claimed that he was "only saying what the people at home are thinking".[10] The show was cancelled after the 2008 season.

Sunday Independent column[edit]

O'Connor is known for his conservative, anti-intellectual, right-wing political views, and puts these across in his articles in the Sunday Independent. Regular targets of O'Connor's ire are Sinn Féin, anti-war protesters (whom he labels disparagingly as "anti-American"), travellers, public sector workers and students.[4] He dislikes public sector workers describing them as a "privileged elite".[13]

In many of his newspaper articles on Irish politics, O'Connor strongly supports Fianna Fáil. He was also a supporter of Bertie Ahern and has described Ahern as "a great Taoiseach".[14]

O'Connor frequently writes an article that appears on the bottom corner of the front page of the Sunday Independent. He also edits the paper's Life magazine, a glossy supplement to the paper. Articles by O'Connor also appear throughout many other sections of the paper. He writes on an extremely broad range of topics—which can include any subject. He regularly writes on subjects such as politics, travel, entertainment and gossip (primarily relating to well-known figures in Irish life).

His writing has been described as shallow, bipolar and at times racist. Irish political magazine The Phoenix, has criticised his journalism, saying:

Support for Bertie Ahern and Fianna Fáil[edit]

O'Connor frequently refers to Bertie Ahern in his articles simply and affectionately as "Bertie". His "relationship" with Ahern has been tense. In August 2003 he had a row with Ahern on a flight returning from Ahern's daughter's wedding in France, when Ahern refused to grant him an interview.[4] O'Connor has also criticised Ahern at times, like in his article in the Sunday Independent, 9 May 2004, where he wrote:

In this same article O'Connor lamented the expulsion of Beverley Flynn, a TD, from the Fianna Fáil Party for the second time arising out of corruption charges, stating that she was "indeed a class act and is someone we need more of in Irish politics."[16] He also referred to her as a "principled woman".[16]

Criticism of Ahern by O'Connor has been minimal, overall O'Connor has backed Ahern, especially when such support was most needed. O'Connor, along with Eoghan Harris, strongly supported Bertie Ahern during the 2007 general election and during his appearances before the Mahon Tribunal. Ahern subsequently appointed Harris as a Senator.

As pressure grew on Bertie Ahern due to revelations from the Mahon Tribunal (regarding unexplained payments Ahern had received in the 1990s), O'Connor called for the Tribunal to be shut down:

On Wednesday, 2 April 2008, Bertie Ahern announced he would be resigning as Taoiseach and did so on 6 May 2008.[18] Investigations into payments Ahern received are ongoing.

On Friday, 19 February 2010, Fianna Fáil TD Willie O'Dea resigned as Minister for Defence for committing perjury in front of the High Court. Two days later in his weekly column in the Sunday Independent, O'Connor entered into a vitriolic attack on the politicians who called for his resignation, especially Green Party Senator Dan Boyle:


O'Connor has been bullish on subject of the Irish property market. In July 2007, four months after the peak of the Irish property bubble, O'Connor wrote an article urging his readers to invest in property, saying that "the really smart and ballsy guys are the guys who are buying when no one else is"[20] and "if I wasn't already massively over-exposed to the property market by virtue of owning a reasonable home. I'd be buying property". (Several years later, O'Connor castigated a journalist who brought up the subject of the article during an interview, claiming that it was a valid opinion originating from original thinking).[21]

In June 2009, O'Connor wrote an article blaming the governor of the Irish Central Bank, John Hurley, and his "cronies" for being responsible for "excessive lending" and for O'Connor and others being in negative equity.[22] In January 2010 O'Connor wrote of the media's role in the Irish property market when he said "we curse the politicians, the banks and the media that encouraged the madness".[23]


O'Connor supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the United States government.[4]

He wrote frequent articles about the model Katy French, who died on 6 December 2007. French publicly announced her disdain for O'Connor, deeming him a "gutter journalist."[citation needed].

In early 2004, O'Connor enraged some of his colleagues by strongly supporting management during an industrial relations crisis over forced redundancy.[4]

The Saturday Night Show[edit]

In 2010, O'Connor began hosting TV chat programme The Saturday Night Show on RTÉ One. His controversial interview with Michael Barrymore brought him to the attention of the British press.[24][25] His interview with Oliver Callan, during which the impressionist announced he was gay, brought him to the attention of the international press.[26][27][28][29][30]

On 14 March 2015, O'Connor announced without warning live on air his resignation as host of The Saturday Night Show and that the show would finish for good at the end of that series on 30 May 2015.[31]

Personal life[edit]

O'Connor married Sarah Caden in 1999.[3] She is also a journalist with the Sunday Independent and she is the daughter of John Caden, an independent television producer.[4] The couple have two children, a daughter, born in early 2008, Anna and a daughter born in August 2010, Mary.[32][33] O'Connor wrote about her diagnosis with Down syndrome in his Sunday Independent column in September 2010, drawing a warm response from readers.[34][35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ O'Connor, Brendan (18 September 2005). "Yes, I'm going to take my business up, up and away". Sunday Independent. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2008. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Biography for Brendan O'Connor". The Internet Movie Database Website. Retrieved 19 May 2008. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Millar, Scott; Maggie Kenneally; Chekov Feeney (10 August 2006). "Making a living from being a boor...His bark is as bad as his bite". Village. Archived from the original on 20 November 2007. Retrieved 19 May 2008. 
  5. ^ O'Connor, Brendan (29 July 2007). "The smart, ballsy guys are buying up property right now". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 22 February 2011. 
  6. ^ "PAPER PROPHET Brendan O'Connor". Sunday Independent. 25 February 2007. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2008. 
  7. ^ O'Connell, Hugh (27 March 2013). "RTÉ reveals stars' salaries: Ryan Tubridy was paid €723,000 in 2011, according to figures released by the State broadcaster this evening". Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  8. ^ O'Connor, Brendan (15 October 2006). "‘We end up in a gay bar, clearly a man's gay bar, because there were no lesbians, and I realise that now that women are allowed into the golf clubs, these places are the last bastions of masculinity'". Sunday Independent. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2008. 
  9. ^ O'Connor, Brendan (9 October 2005). "‘I’m surprised that Dita Von Teese, who provided the entertainment, didn't come over to me, and say, "My Granny is here and she'd really love to meet you."'". Sunday Independent. Archived from the original on 18 February 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2008. 
  10. ^ a b "You're a Star – Judges: Brendan O'Connor". Raidió Teilifís Éireann. Retrieved 19 May 2008. 
  11. ^ "Video of Brendan O'Connor singing 'Who's In The House?'". YouTube Website ( Retrieved 21 May 2008. 
  12. ^ "How I became a manic street preacher". Sunday Independent. 30 April 2000. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2008. 
  13. ^ O'Connor, Brendan (8 November 2009). "Willingness to sacrifice jobs shows what's important to union barons". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 3 August 2012. 
  14. ^ O'Connor, Brendan (13 April 2008). "Tearing down a leader is an event to dwell on". Sunday Independent. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2008. 
  15. ^ "Pillars of Society: Brendan O'Connor" (PDF). The Phoenix. 29 January 2010. pp. pg16. Retrieved 16 June 2010. 
  16. ^ a b c O'Connor, Brendan (9 May 2004). "It's a sad day for politics when Bev is hunted out". Sunday Independent. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2008. 
  17. ^ O'Connor, Brendan (9 March 2008). "Time's up Mahon, it is getting tedious". Sunday Independent. Archived from the original on 18 February 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2008. 
  18. ^ "Kenny calls for fresh election after Taoiseach resigns". Irish Independent. 2 April 2008. Archived from the original on 18 February 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2008. 
  19. ^ O'Connor, Brendan (21 February 2010). "So who elected Flouncer Boyle to run the country?". Sunday Independent. Archived from the original on 25 February 2011. Retrieved 21 February 2010. 
  20. ^ O'Connor, Brendan (29 July 2007). "The Smart Ballsy Guys Are Buying Up Property Right Now". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 22 February 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2009. 
  21. ^ "Anyone can be like Fintan O'Toole and follow the consensus: be for the poor and against the rich". Sunday Tribune. 24 January 2010. Archived from the original on 27 January 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2010. 
  22. ^ "Hurley and his banker cronies have ruined this country. Fire him now". Irish Independent. 14 June 2007. Archived from the original on 18 October 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2009. 
  23. ^ O'Connor, Brendan (10 January 2010). "No use cursing day we mounted property ladder". Sunday Independent. Archived from the original on 18 October 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2010. 
  24. ^ "Barrymore Behaves Bizarrely On Irish TV". Sky News. 9 February 2010. Archived from the original on 12 February 2010. Retrieved 9 February 2010. 
  25. ^ "Michael Barrymore pretends to be Jedward's dad in excruciating live TV appearance". Daily Mirror. 9 February 2010. Retrieved 9 February 2010. 
  26. ^ Horan, Niamh (30 October 2011). "I'm not homophobic I'm a homosexual, reveals comic Oliver Callan". Sunday Independent. Archived from the original on 3 September 2012. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  27. ^ Michelson, Noah (31 October 2011). "Oliver Callan, Comedian On Ireland's 'Nob Nation' And 'Green Tea' Radio Shows, Denies Homophobia, Comes Out On Live Television". Huffington Post. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  28. ^ Tevlin, Rory (31 October 2011). "Comic accused of being homophobic admits he's gay on live TV". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  29. ^ "Comic Oliver Callan Says He's Gay And Doesn't Give A Sh*t". On Top Magazine. 31 October 2011. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  30. ^ Gray, Stephen (31 October 2011). "Homophobia question prompts Irish radio comedian to come out". Pink News. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  31. ^ "Brendan O'Connor bids emotional farewell to The Saturday Night Show". 1 June 2015. 
  32. ^ The Late Late Show. (RTÉ One), Friday, 18 January 2008. Here it was stated during his appearance on the program that his wife was expecting a baby soon - Click here to watch the video on RTÉ's Website (Scroll down to 'YOU'RE A STAR HOPEFULS & JUDGES' and click on the link). Retrieved 21 May 2008.
  33. ^ O'Connor, Brendan (6 April 2008). "‘Funny, the things you call babies. I call mine a different one each time I see her: it could be the name of an African tyrant, a cake mix brand, whatever’". Sunday Independent. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2008. 
  34. ^ "'A prayer for my daughter' touches the hearts of people all over the country". Sunday Independent. 19 September 2010. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 19 September 2010. 
  35. ^ "Thank you for slaying our ignorance". Sunday Independent. 19 September 2010. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 19 September 2010. 

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