‘He was extraordinary’: Ronan Collins sings Joe Dolan at Limerick’s UCH

Alan Owens


Alan Owens

He was extraordinary: Ronan Collins on Joe Dolan, whose songs he performs at the UCH this Sunday

He was extraordinary: Ronan Collins on Joe Dolan, whose songs he performs at the UCH this Sunday

RONAN Collins speaks of Joe Dolan with both awe and feeling, a fan as well as a colleague and friend.

The veteran broadcaster was lucky, he says, to have known the Mullingar legend and sums him up in one word: “extraordinary”.

“The energy of the man was quite extraordinary. He was a very physical performer and it is not easy to do a two hour show and stand up there the way that Joe did it, but he delivered every time, his consistency was extraordinary,” says Ronan, veteran radio and television presenter who brings his own show about Dolan to the University Concert Hall this weekend.

“He was a wonderful, warm, witty guy. The only time he was serious was the way he performed - he was very serious about his performance and the getting the best out of the people around him.

“His enjoyment and his humour always came out in every performance. He was a lovely guy, smashing.”

Ronan Collins sings Joe Dolan is the show and it is not a pastiche - Collins, now 66, is one of the few performers capable of, if not matching, but emulating the unique vocal range and match the falsetto quality of Dolan’s voice

“That is very important,” he explains of the show’s title, “it is me singing Joe rather than me - I am not doing an impression, it is not a tribute show in the sense that the focus is on the songs that Joe used to do in live performance.

“It is a tribute to Joe in as much as he recorded some terrific songs,” adds Collins, whose nostalgia tour Reeling in The Showband Years sells out every year at the UCH.

Collins is joined by a ten piece band to perform the songs that Joe made his own and the inspiration came from the compilation albums the broadcaster assembled over the years.

“There was a demand for live shows,” he says.

“I just found there was a great gra for the Joe Dolan songs - I enjoyed singing them. So what we do is not try to create an illusion, but do the songs, the way Joe did them.

“I am very lucky that a lot of people know who I am - it is still a surprise for a lot of people that I do this, that I sing - but I am hoping that surprise is a happy one.

“I don’t do it lightly, it is a great privilege to it and it is very rewarding when people react they way they have done to the show and I am looking forward to doing it again,” he adds.

Ronan Collins plays the UCH this Sunday night. See www.uch.ie