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Revealed: How Willie O'Dea almost got rid of his famous 'tache

Surely not?

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

WILLIE O’DEA IS undoubtedly the owner of the most famous facial hair in Irish politics.

In fact, it’s probably one of the most famous ‘taches in Irish public life having been described as one that “would make even Tom Selleck jealous”.

It has adorned his upper lip for decades:

08/10/2013. Fianna Fail - Social Welfare Amendment Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

So it was with some shock that the Fianna Fáil TD made a stunning revelation when he spoke to TheJournal.ie last month:

I gave thought to shaving it off.


1/10/2013 Willie O Dea Poverty Traps Source: samboal

Surely not. What on earth could have possessed him to even consider such a thing?

Well, thankfully, it was all intended to be for a good cause. O’Dea told us he was approached by a number of charities representing “worthy causes” who wondered if he would deploy the razor to raise money for them last year.

Unfortunately for them the offer wasn’t good enough:

I would have shaved it off if I’d have been offered enough money for charity of course to do it, but the price wasn’t high enough.

So what would it cost for O’Dea to shave it off? He’s saying nothing, insisting it’s “sensitive commercial information”.


There’s a good reason for that. The ‘tache is all part of a persona that has made O’Dea a bit of a cult figure in recent years.

Earlier this year an Ógra Fianna Fáil recruitment drive featured a cartoon version of the deputy and a ‘Where’s Willie?’ game modelled on the famous ‘Where’s Wally?’ series.

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Then there was this rather creepy knitted version of Willie which we saw on TV3 recently:

original Source: TV3

And of course there is his long-standing association with The Rubberbandits, the Limerick hip-hop duo who made a song about the former cabinet minister in 2010:

Source: Rubberbandits/YouTube

O’Dea is a fan:

I was pleasantly surprised and it came at the right time, before the last election, when we had to appeal to all sections of the electorate. My association with The Rubberbandits certainly did me a lot of good and helped me get votes that I mightn’t have otherwise got.

Of course it’s not the real O’Dea in the video and though the ‘Bandits spend much of their time in the States these days he would “certainly consider” any offer to appear in a future music video.

So are his parliamentary colleagues jealous of his cult status? O’Dea doesn’t know, but wouldn’t be bothered if they were:

They’ve said nothing to my face anyway… I am not going for the leadership, [so] I don’t mind!

Read: Willie O’Dea told us about his radical plan to abolish all social welfare

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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