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  • Northside West

No seriously, joking inside!

Friday, 10th November, 2017 8:00am
No seriously, joking inside!

Willa White had a powerful message for his audience.

No seriously, joking inside!

Willa White had a powerful message for his audience.

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HAVE you heard the one about the prisoner, the comedian and the football club? The inmates in Mountjoy certainly did at a recent comedy show held behind bars inside the Northside jail.

The prisoners in Mountjoy West wing were treated to a great night of entertainment that included a hilarious performance from one of Ireland’s funniest acts, Tommy Tiernan.

The show was organised by another top comedian, John Colleary, who donates his talent and time through the Bohemian Foundation to improve the lives of Dublin’s forgotten communities.

The Foundation is Bohemian FC’s independent, non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the health and well-being of North Dublin communities, including those on the fringes of society.

Naturally, most of its work is done through soccer but Colleary’s involvement has helped the Foundation reach out in another, rather unusual way.

A self-confessed Sligo Rovers fan, Colleary has put aside any footballing differences to deliver comedy workshops to the homeless and inmates in Mountjoy.

Not exactly comedy gold you might think, but he’s passionate about raising self-awareness and confidence through stand-up, and the Mountjoy show proved that it works.

Two of the performers were inmates who attended Colleary’s workshops and, oozing confidence, neither looked out of place performing alongside Tiernan and host for the evening, Willa White.

This was a night where White really could say he knew his audience.

That’s because he’s a former inmate who used his time in prison as a springboard to turn his life around, and he instantly connected with the men in Mountjoy West.

“Are there any couples in here tonight?” he joked during his non-PC act.

Mountjoy West is home to inmates who are generally considered well behaved. The majority are on day release programmes that allows them attend college, go to work and engage in monitored re-socialisation activities.

These are prisoners that have shown a willingness to change, and deputy governor of the ‘Joy, Donnacha Walsh, believes in giving them an opportunity to do just that.

“Willa White performing and giving the message that you can turn your life around is priceless because it’s an ex-prisoner talking to current prisoners and they listen to him,” he said.

Tommy Tiernan agrees with the sentiment. His performance in Mountjoy West was the comedian’s third in the prison and he was impressed with his audience.

“One of the things that struck me was that if you’d have met these men and were told they were on an adult education programme, you would have believd it,” he said.

“They just seemed very far removed from the crimes that brought them in there.

“If somebody had come to you after the show and pointed out that this fellah had killed somebody or that fellah had stabbed somebody, it might have been hard to believe.

“I suppose you got to see a side of them, or even the reality of them, away from the context that landed them in there.

“I thought it was great. I thought there was a great kind of energy in the room.

“I sensed that the men there were delighted to have some kind of interaction with stuff from the outside.”

NO LAUGHING MATTER: Pictured after the show in Moutjoy were (l-r) Tommy Tiernan, Chris Brien (Bohemian Foundation), Willa White, Thomas Hynes (Bohemian Foundation) and John Colleary.

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here