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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019
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Late Late crowd joins in as Christy Dignam sings a stunning version of Waltzing Matilda

Dignam talked about his parents, his teeth and his nerves for the Dubs match on last night’s show.

Source: The Late Late Show/YouTube

SINGER CHRISTY DIGNAM received a rapturous reception on RTÉ’s The Late Late Show last night, as the crowd joined in as he sang the ballad Waltzing Matilda. 

The veteran Aslan star also performed Gilbert O’Sullivan’s Alone Again Naturally before sitting down to chat with Ryan Tubridy about his parents, grandparents and his own health. 

Speaking about Waltzing Matilda, Dignam said that it had an extra significance for him given his grandfather had fought in World War One.

When I learned that song years ago, it really resonated with me and I didn’t know why,” he said. “[My grandfather] went over with an Irish regiment to Gallipoli. I think there were around 2,000 of them, and only 11 came back… When I hear 1916, it fills me with pride because I’m Irish.

My grandad used to get dressed up for memorial day with the poppy and he’d walk from Dominic Street to the Garden of Remembrance in Inchicore and he’d be covered in spit. He was seen as a traitor.

Dignam described how his parents had both had alcoholic fathers and, as a result, were teetotalers themselves. He also discussed his father’s own love for classical music, before turning to a recent bout of poor health the elderly man has had.

My da’s hands were callous,” he said. “He was an upholsterer. You know ‘these are the hands of a tired man…’.”

Several months ago, his dad was diagnosed with pneumonia from which he hasn’t fully recovered, and is now living in a home where he requires round-the-clock care. 

Dignam said: “If I got a video of him today and went back in time six months and showed him that, he’d say ‘don’t put me in there’.”

“It’s horrific looking at him,” he said. “There’s still flashes… His voice is gone now. It’s very, very sad.”

The singer spoke fondly of his mother, and described her as living a “hard life” looking after siblings from a young age after her mother went to England. 

“She sold the house back to the corporation just before the crash in 2007,” he said. “For the first time, they had money… Everything they done was around Ireland. She had 10 years of a great life.”

Dignam also discussed his teeth which he said had deteriorated through a combination of recent chemotherapy and “from years ago not looking after [himself]“.

He has now gotten crowns put in, but there’s also a green diamond there after he promised he’d get one put in when watching an Old Firm game in Glasgow if Celtic beat Rangers.

He’s also very nervous for the Dublin match today, but won’t be able to make it to Croke Park as he has a gig to perform at. 

At the recent tense All-Ireland Final between Dublin and Kerry, which ended in a draw, Dignam said it was a tough watch given the effect his recent health problems have had on him.

“My heart is working at two-thirds capacity,” he said. “I thought I was going to have a heart attack.”

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Sean Murray

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