This week, I chatted with authors Sarah Cassidy and Kunak McGann about their most recent book, Ah … That’s Gas! – The ads, fads and mad happenings that swept the Irish nation. I wanted to know about their favourite ads and fads as well as the ones they had never heard of before writing this book together!
Sarah and I had such a good time wandering down memory lane while writing this book, re-visiting favourite feelgood moments from our own childhoods as well as those from more recent times. There are so many events and experiences that we have shared as a nation, they give us a collective memory and a sense of who we are and where we come from, and it was a real joy to put those down in a book. Here are my three favourites.
I can still remember the rush of watching Riverdance for the first time. From those first haunting vocals from Anúna to the gazelle-like Jean Butler in the first solo dance, then Michael Flatley bounding onto stage with his bouffant hair and batwing-sleeve shirt, and Irish dancers flooding the stage in synchronised beats. Who knew Irish dancing could actually be cool?? Our hearts were full.
It is an undeniable fact that Ireland has the best butter in the world. It’s always been a prime export for us and Kerrygold were tapping into that with these crossover ads featuring our French friends. Made before anyone really knew the phrase ‘lactose intolerant’ and possibly the most iconic Irish ads of all time. Surely I’m not the only person who still walks into a room and asks ‘Zere is sumzing I can ‘elp?’.
Free a Nipper!
A promotional campaign fronted by Brendan Grace that drove the kids of Ireland into a frenzy. I remember nagging my parents to top up their tanks so that I could collect the tokens to claim not just a nipper but a digital watch (which were all the rage back in the mid 80s) in bright canary yellow. Stop! Nipper time.
My three favourite ones are so hard to choose but I’ll go with these three:
Nadine Coyle’s Passport
I chose this one because I just think it was hilarious. I watched the show Popstars when it was on TV when I was younger and it just made great television.
The Iodine Tablets
I just think it’s hilarious that we all got these through the door and people put them in a press or a drawer never to be looked at again. I think it’s so funny.
Their songs remind me so much of the summer of 1998 when, after my leaving cert, me and all my friends went to stay in a caravan in La Rochelle in France for a few weeks and we had so much fun. B*Witched were just huge at the time and listening to them always brings me back to that holiday.
Ads and Fads never heard of before
One entry I hadn’t heard of was the ‘Who’s in the House?’ song – I had never heard of it, I don’t know how I hadn’t heard of it but I had never heard of it!
There are a couple of entries about events in the 1980s that I didn’t remember at all, but which I absolutely love. The first is the plane that made an emergency landing at Mallow Racecourse in the early 1980s. Can you imagine the excitement of the locals? It sounds like the crew were treated to a proper Irish welcome during their stay too. Céad mile fáilte!
The second is the two young Darndale lads who managed to blag their way from home to London and then onto a flight to New York – all to try and meet B.A. Baracus from the A-Team, a bona fide 80s legend and, ironically, famous for not ‘gettin’ on no plane’.
Thank you for sharing ladies!
Sarah Cassidy and Kunak McGann, January 2022
Ah… That’s Gas! by Sarah Cassidy and Kunak McGann is out now and available from your local bookshop or here.