- Ross O'Carroll-Kelly
name = Ross O'Carroll-Kelly
country = Ireland
language = English
genre = Humour,
The O'Brien Press, Penguin
Ross O'Carroll-Kelly is a fictional Irish rugby jock created by journalist
Paul Howard. The character of Ross is a satiricaldepiction of a wealthy, self-obsessed, "D4", rugby unionplayer. Howard distances himself from his protagonist's viewpoint by describing himself as being "as working classas currysauce, processed cheeseslices and borrowing money from the credit union."
The character first appeared in a January 1998 column within the "
Sunday Tribune" newspaper and now appears in " The Irish Times". It is written in the first person from Ross's perspective. The columns (which have been adapted into a series of novels) chronicle the events of Ross's life, beginning at the age of 17.
The Ross O'Carroll-Kelly series have been phenomenonally successful, regularly appearing in the Irish bestseller lists.
Seven Ross O'Carroll-Kelly novels have been published, the first four by [http://www.obrien.ie The O'Brien Press] and the last three by
# "The Miseducation of Ross O'Carroll Kelly", covering Ross's last two years at Castlerock College and his Leinster Senior Cup victory (later editions are titled "The Miseducation Years")
# "Roysh Here, Roysh Now... The Teenage Dirtbag Years", covering Ross's first year at UCD and holiday in the U.S. (later editions are titled "The Teenage Dirtbag Years")
# "The Orange Mocha-Chip Frappuccino Years", in which Ross's parents force him to fend for himself as an estate agent
#"PS, I Scored The Bridesmaids", in which Ross marries Sorcha
# "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightdress", in which Ross discovers he is a father
# "Should Have Got Off at Sydney Parade", in which Ross gets Sorcha pregnant
# "This Champagne Mojito Is The Last Thing I Own", in which Ross's father is imprisoned and his assets seized
# "Mr S and the Secrets of Andorra's Box", out in October 2008 [ [http://www.docstoc.com/docs/609962/Penguin-Ireland ] ]
The titles reference "
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill", " Teenage Dirtbag", "", " PS, I Love You" and " The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" respectively. The reference to Sydney Parade refers to alighting from the DART at the last stop before Sandymount (where Ross lives): a reference to coitus interruptus. "Andorra's Box" puns on Pandora's Box.
"Ross O'Carroll-Kelly's Guide to (South) Dublin: How To Get By On, Like, €10,000 A Day", a mock
travel guideto "SoCoDu", has also been published by Penguin.
The series is written entirely in Ross' first-person perspective, written in an
eye dialectrepresentation of the intonation peculiar to affluent areas of South Dublin, commonly called "Dortspeak". This accent is one of the primary targets of satire in the columns and novels. Due to the wide variety of esoteric slang used in the novels, a glossary("ThesauRoss") appears as an appendix to "Ross O'Carroll-Kelly's Guide to (South) Dublin: How to Get by On, Like, €10,000 A Day". Though the basic idioms are derived largely from standard Hiberno-English, the South Dublinaccent as represented by Howard has distinctive features:
* 'Car' is written as 'cor', 'Arts' as 'Orts', 'star' as 'stor', and 'fuck' as 'fock'.
* The "soft T" prevails: 'Right' becomes 'Roysh', 'DART' becomes 'Dorsh'.
* A form of
rhyming slangexists: A taxi is a 'Jo Maxi' (or simply a 'Jo'), a face is a "boat race", breasts are "top tens" (Top Ten hits - tits) and a love-biteis a 'Denis' ( Denis Hickie). Ross often refers to having an Allied Irish (Allied Irish Bank: wank). This can be confusing to overseas readers, especially when overused - "the pen is Pádraig" meaning "the stink is fierce" ("pen ink" meaning "stink" and " Padraig Pearse", "fierce").
*Other forms of wordplay (occasionally employing equally obscure references) are also common. For example, a girl who has "fallen to the communists", has "Munster playing at home" or has won a "starring role in a period costume drama" is (or is speculated to be) having her period.
* Sentences are often punctuated with frequent use of the words 'loike' or 'roysh'.
*Ross, in particular, describes women by comparing them to female celebrities. For example "A total
Ali Landry", "A bit of a girl-next-door vibe, if your next door neighbour happens to be Cheryl Tweedy."
*Ugly women are often referred to as "moonpigs", "swamp donkeys" and "weapons [of mass destruction] "
A typical statement from one of Ross' columns is "So there I was, roysh, class legend, schools rugby legend, basically all-round legend, when someone decides you can't, like, sit the Leaving Cert four times. Well that put a focking spanner in the works."
Although the main satirical targets of the columns are affluent South Dublin dwellers, elements of working class culture (sometimes called culture) are also parodied, again, primarily through language.
* Common exclamations include "Ah Jaysus!", and "(Wat's de) Story, bud?" (which is taken to mean "How are you, my friend?").
* The 'th' sound becomes a 'd' sound: "Wudja looka dat young fella over dare" ("(Would you) Look at that young man over there").
* "The Herald" becomes "The Heddild", "aren't" becomes "arden't", and crime figure "The General" becomes "de gennidel".
* Working class people are sometimes referred to by Ross as "Howiyas" (based on the Dublin accent rendering of "How are you?"), and the women as "Jacintas" or "Natalies" (names perceived to be common among working class Dublin women).
*The term "steamer" is a phrase used by Ross referring to a guy who 'bats for the other team or drives on the wrong side of the road' i.e: is homosexual.
Eye dialect is also used to portray the accents of Northern Irish people, "
culchies" (rural dwellers) and foreigners.
Several stylistic traits from "The Mis-Education Of Ross O'Carroll-Kelly" were borrowed in homage from
Bret Easton Ellis's similarly satirical novel, " American Psycho". For example:
* Ross describes in exacting detail the clothes (specifically the labels thereof) those around him are wearing
* Ross describes their physical appearance only as far as commenting on their attractiveness (and, in women, posterior and breast size)
* Ross exaggerates the behavioural traits of those around him, suggesting he may be an
* Also suggesting the above, Ross acts in an extremely rude fashion to some of those around him (in particular his father, to whom he continually hurls abuse) in a fashion similar to Patrick Bateman repeatedly telling his close friends about his acts of violence. Despite this, none of them seem to take any notice.
* Characters deliver detailed vignettes about aspects of
popular culture(the character Christian discusses the incestuous undertones of Star Warsin an early scene)
* Dialogue extensively uses italics and capitals for extreme emphases
Indeed, a conversation in the first chapter of the book, in which Ross is asked for advice regarding wearing
Dubarryshoes in a formal context, almost exactly mirrors a conversation in "American Psycho" (in which Patrick Bateman is asked for similar advice regarding tasselled loafers).
Ross Kyle Gibson McBride O'Carroll-Kelly - The
protagonistand narrator. His initials, given to him by Tribune journalist Gerard Siggins, are ROCK. This is a double reference - Ross attended the fictional school "Castlerock College" (a portmanteauof Castleknock Collegeand Blackrock College. Ross is dimwitted, vain and a heartless womaniser. Though Ross performed well in schools rugby, his natural laziness meant that he never progressed in the game as an adult. Ross has a near psychotic contempt for "s" or "skobies" (as he refers to a particular group of people in Dublin, the majority of whom reside north of the River Liffey; and " boggers" or " culchies" (as he refers to people from outside the Dublin area). His marriage to Sorcha has done little to hinder his prolific womanising (at least, if his account is to be believed). Once he has had his way with a girl, he rarely replies to her calls or messages, unless he needs to use her for some ulterior purpose.
The reason for Ross' relative economic affluence is the fact that when he was a young boy, his father came into a fortune in a suspiciously short period of time. Criminal links were rumoured, and Charles O'Carroll-Kelly was eventually arrested and convicted of tax evasion and bribing public representatives, and also of accepting bribes while serving as a County Councillor himself. With his millions in tow, his father bought a large estate in the leafy, gilded suburbs of South Dublin from which Ross' D4 lifestyle began. During his early years in
secondary school, Ross was regularly bullied for having once lived in Sallynoggin, prior to his father making his fortune.
Charles O'Carroll-Kelly - Ross' father. Ross treats him with contempt, often while obtaining large amounts of money from him. Charles is very proud of his son's rugby skills (Ross' middle names derive from Irish rugby greats
Jack Kyle, Mike Gibsonand Willie John McBride), and demands the utmost respect for him from sports columnists. Ross' nicknames for him, possibly suggested by his initials, include "Dick-features" and "Knob-head".
Mr O'Carroll-Kelly is portrayed as an extreme right winger, with little respect for trade unions, the environment and state intervention in the economy. He was elected a councillor for Dun Laoghaire in the 2004 local elections. In 2006 he is jailed on corruption charges and currently in Mountjoy jail (following revelations about the "fictional" events depicted in his wife's novel "Criminal Assets"), where he then manages to turn the prisoners into a rugby team. Mr O Carroll Kelly has an inflated sense of self importance, repeatedly writing to the Irish Times on various issues, convinced that people think of him as a "major captain of industry" and man with his "finger on the pulse of the nation". As well as this, at various times, he has attempted (usually unsuccessfully) to make political statements about what he considers to be important social issues, which usually go completely unnoticed by the public.
Interestingly, during the time the senior O'Carroll-Kelly spends in prison, Ross's contempt for him diminishes somewhat. This corresponds with his father's inability to provide him with seemingly endless resources of finance and Charles's new-found respect for the less fortunate. In essence, this is the first period in their relationship when Ross is unable to prevail upon his father for his every desire to be satisfied. It appears, somewhat counter-intuitively, that Ross respect for his father grows as a result of this.
Fionnuala O'Carroll-Kelly - Ross' mother. Often gets involved in campaigns (such as "Halting Sites Where They're Appropriate") to keep
working classand disadvantaged elements out of Foxrock. Much to Ross's horror, she has become a successful author of " chick-lit", with a decidedly steamier approach than Cecilia Ahern. The initials of her name form a lewd joke in Ross-speak. After sending Charles to prison by revealing all their secrets in her novel, Fionnula becomes an extremely successful public figure on foot of her writing. She becomes the new face of crème de la mer Ireland and falls in love with her book agent Lance, causing Ross to despise her even more.
Sorcha Eidemar Françoise O'Carroll-Kelly (née Lalor) - Ross' recurring love interest, and eventually his wife. She is a benevolent character and is concerned with issues such as poverty and various endangered species. Her main interests are shopping and watching "
Friends", " Dawson's Creek" and " The O.C." Ross repeatedly cheats on her but is possessive of her nonetheless. Her signature scent is " Issey Miyake" perfume. Sorcha worked for a short period, for Ross's father as a cut-throat human resources manager, helping him to "rationalise" the work-force. She now runs her own boutique in the Powerscourt Centre in Dublin City. She split up with Ross after he slept with their nanny and is currently living with Cillian, an old flame of hers.
Ronan Masters - Ross' illegitimate son, who, to Ross' eternal shame, is a prime example of the
skangersubculture. Though only a child, he has many criminal connections, and is tipped by his neighbours to become "the next Genoddle", i.e., The General, Martin Cahill. Surprisingly he is the only character in the series who has been able to make Erika smile and - despite the vast social gap between them - she has grown quite fond of him also. In the more recent books with Ronan becoming a sustained character and being widely accepted as the humour of the stories, his adventures have started to take him overseas generally dragging Ross alongside him. The first of these comes as a result of a school trip after Ronan joins Castlerock and becomes Fr. Fehily's bright hope for there rugby future. The trip takes them to France where Ronan vanishes into the Red light district of Pigalle in France forcing Ross to act as a parent and bring him home. While there Ronan calls Ross "Da" for the first time and not something offensive while Ross was thinking about Ronan's earlier statement of becoming a Pimp after uttering the sentence "I think I should get meself a string a' bitches".
Honor O'Carroll-Kelly-Lalor - Ross and Sorcha's first child together. Sorcha went into labour at Fionnuala's book party at the end of the last book. Honor initially hated Ross and cried whenever she saw him but now they have a better relationship, even though, due to the split with Sorcha, Ross only sees her on Sundays.
Christian Forde - Ross' oldest friend. An obsessive "
Star Wars" fan, he talks of little else and often merges movie scenes and quotes in to his day-to-day life. He married Hennessy's daughter, Lauren, in 2005. Even though Ross was instrumental in the failure of his parents' marriage by sleeping with his mother, Christian is unshakeably loyal to Ross and is the first to stand by him when trouble starts. However, Christian left for Skywalker Ranch near Nicasio,California, along with Lauren, to join George Lucas's writing team in early 2007.
JP Conroy - A friend of Ross' who prior to 2005 spoke "fluent morkeshing", i.e. marketing. He talked entirely in business
slogansand catch phrases. (For example, "Sounds like there's a highly resourced, precisely targeted results drive going down here."). JP harbours an intense superiority complex towards members of the working class and common activities include driving through impoverished areas of Dublin shouting "Affluence", "The breadline" and, "The poverty trap". According to Ross, he is doing an MDB (Managing Daddy's Business) at the fictional estate agent Hook, Lyon and Sinker. However, this all changed during a trip abroad with the other 'goys', when JP embraced Christianityand rejected materialism. He entered the seminary, and was in training for the priesthood. Nicknames currently include JP III. He subsequently had a crisis of faith, partly fuelled by his father's refusal to allow him any religious material, but appears to be recovering and becoming his old self again. He will not be returning to the seminary.
Oisinn Wallace - "One of the goys", a mountain of a man with the stomach of an elephant, as proved following his victory at the annual UCD Iron Stomach eating competition. Deliberately goes out with the ugliest girls. An aspiring perfume creator, he is able to tell exactly what aftershave or perfume his friends are wearing. His "old dear" is a "". He has had huge success marketing his own range of scented holy water. Was recently supposed to be getting married, but his fiancee left him after she discovered he had maintained an internet gambing addiction (they had met at a support group meeting). Oisinn has admitted this to Ross, who was to be his best-man. Ross is now supporting Oisinn through his troubles, and progress is being made.
Fionn de Barra - The only one of Ross' friends with academic ability. Though they respect each other as rugby players from their time on "the 'S'" (Schools senior cup team) together, Ross and Fionn are almost polar opposites of one another, and as a result the pair have often fallen out with one another. Their antipathy is compounded by the fact that Fionn harbours romantic feelings for Sorcha. He is widely rumoured, via the medium of toilet-wall graffiti, to have had an affair with Sorcha and indeed in some rumours to be the father of Ross' second child, Honor. Ross's jealousy about Fionn's infatuation was the catalyst for his marriage proposal to Sorcha. Fionn is now a successful teacher at Castlerock College where he teaches English and History to students including (to Ross's disapproval) Ronan. Fionn's recent heartache at the end of the last book stems from the death of his fiancée Aoife who dies from the eating disorder she suffered from for years bringing the feud between the two men to a close, as both had lost their partners in recent months.
Frank Awder, alias Hennessy Coghlan-O'Hara - Charles' solicitor and friend. He shares Charles' concerns about the working class, and is in trouble with the law for
tax evasion. It transpires that "Hennessy" is merely an alias, and his real name is "Frank Awder". This comes as a shock to his daughter Lauren, who is now "Lauren Awder", something that "her old man is not too keen on", as Ross puts it. Hennessy is quite fond of the female natives of South East Asia. Along with Charles, Hennessy is a parody of the mildly corrupt past of Irish life as exposed in the long-running tribunals of Inquiry.
Erika - Femme fatale and Sorcha's closest friend during college even though she cannot stand Sorcha's caring nature. Hobbies include horse riding and dating super-rich men. Totally uninterested with the predictable topics her girlfriends talk about (favourite moment in Dawson's Creek,
Weight Watcherspoints etc). Can put down a man with one lash of her tongue and thus became something of a forbidden fruit in Ross' eyes. She repeatedly toys with the idea of seducing Ross (who knows he would be unable to resist), with the sole apparent intention of hurting Sorcha. Erika has been in love with Ross's best friend Christian Forde since she was 15.
Derek "One F" Foley - Character based on real-life Irish sports reporter
Derek Foleywho writes for the tabloid " Irish Daily Star", the newspaper variously described by Ross as "The Paper for Peasants" and the "Building Site Gazette". The "One F" refers to his personalised Star column called 'There is Only One 'F' in Foley' (say it quickly). Their friendship goes back to Foley writing about his Schools Cup heroics and there is a framed copy of the Daily Star with Ross's Cup final hanging on the wall of a nightclub in D'Olier St, Dublin. Ross and One F join together with the 'Echo and the Moneymen' consortium to buy famous nightclub Lillies Bordello.
Father Denis Fehily - Principal of Castlerock College. Rugby is all-important; students on the Senoir Team are excused from all discipline. He intersperses his motivational speeches with quotes from Nazi speeches, which apparently goes unnoticed by even the more intelligent students. (Incidentally, Castlerock's school song is "Castlerock über alles", with parts of the "
Home and Away" theme song inexplicably inserted.) It should be noted that St. Marys College, Dublin (a south side private school based in Rathmines) uses the German marching tune "Erika" in its anthem. He is essentially a propagandistfor the students, teaching them that a good education is irrelevant and that they are the elite that will always have the door held open for them no matter what they do in life. Refers to the students and other members of the wealthy ruling class as "Germans". Father Fehily's death causes a ripple throughout Ross's world. At Father Fehily's funeral Ross makes a speech as a man and feels sad over something worthwhile for once. He includes everyone who was on the S in the year they won and makes reference to each of there own personal skills and his lack of any except rugby. While walking out of the church it was the point where each of them knew they were going their own way in life when Ross said "A little bit of us all got buried with that coffin". Father Fehily's final act is the spreading of his ashes in France on the street where he stayed during his time in the war.
Ross O'Carroll-Kelly is something of a cultural phenomenon within Ireland, and his name has become a byword for all that is perceived to be wrong in
Celtic TigerIreland. Though it is largely viewed as satire, there are those who view Ross O'Carroll-Kelly as a role modelor an idol. For example, some people have imitated Ross' pastime of driving through disadvantaged areas in expensive cars, shouting "Affluence!" at passers-by. Following Ross' move to The Irish Times, the Irish Independentbegan a similar column, "OMG!" featuring a female counterpart to Ross, in its "Weekend" supplement on 22 September, 2007.
Change of newspaper
The original "Sunday Tribune" column ended abruptly in July 2007, with the paper simply carrying a notice the issue after it finished, "Ross O'Carroll-Kelly is on holiday". Subsequently it emerged in an interview with Paul Howard in the
Irish Independentthat Howard had left the newspaper. [http://www.independent.ie/national-news/roysh-sorcha-its-really-all-over-1039902.html] On 29 August, 2007 The Irish Timescarried an advertisement for a Ross O'Carroll-Kelly "return" in the "Saturday supplement" as a weekly column, which began on 1 September, 2007.
Ross also starred in a stage show, "
The Last Days of the Celtic Tiger" [ [http://www.rossocarrollkelly.ie/LastDays.aspx Ross O'Carroll-Kelly - The Last Days of the Celtic Tiger ] ] . Ross has to deal with substantially reduced funds as a result of the Revenue having carried out a taxation audit on his Dad (who was his source of funds). The show ran in the Olympia Theatre, Dublin from 8 November – 17 April, 2008.
Cover art references
In the first four books the covers avoid depicting the face of our main protagonist but this approach has changed since the author signed with Penguin. On the cover of both "The Miseducation Years" and "The Orange Mocha-Chip Frappuccino Years" Ross is shown wearing the rugby team jersey of his fictional school, Castlerock College.The various blue and white jerseys Ross is repeatedly depicted as wearing are based on that of the Leinster provincial rugby team while that being worn by his son on the cover of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightdress is based on the
Glasgow Celticsoccer club's strip. On the cover of "This Champagne Mojito Is The Last Thing I Own" is a sawn-off shotgun, a type of weapon commonly associated in Ireland with armed robbery and other criminal activities. Also on this cover his son is shown wearing the Gaelic gamescounty team jersey of Dublin.
* [http://www.rossocarrollkelly.ie Official site]
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