If you heard a loud bang around Castlepollard before Christmas, that could well have been comedian Neil Delamere setting off 11 kilos of gunpowder in a remote field in the area.
Have no worries: it was all legal, and it was all scientific, and all in aid of his new TV series going out on RTÉ 2 from March.
“It’s called ‘Eureka – The Big Bang Query’ and it consists of 10 episodes that demonstrate various scientific principles,” says the Edenderry man.
While there are all sorts of experts from the fields of the sciences on each week, and some comedians as well, including PJ Gallagher, it’s Neil who got to do the real fun stuff.
“I went bob sledding, and I was in a centrifuge, going at 9-10 times G-force; and I did a parabolic flight – in Angela Merkel’s old plane!”
Racing through the detail with the ease of a scientific expert, he reveals that it was an episode relating to seismology that led to the Castlepollard blast.
“An Irishman, Robert Mallet, is considered the ‘father of seismology’; he invented the term ‘epicentre’ – and also ‘seismology’,” says Neil. As part of his seismological researches, Dublin-born Mallet detonated 11kg of gunpowder on Killiney Beach, and it was in order to replicate that particular experiment that Neil, the gunpowder, and the Castlepollard field all became acquainted.
It was, apparently, quite a blast – and Neil is now hoping that things will go with a blast on his next visit to this area, which takes place on March 11, when he brings his new show, Control+Alt+Delamere to The Greville Arms.
The Greville Arms and Mullingar generally are familiar territory to Neil: his father, John Delamere, is a native of Belvedere Terrace, and he is in town from time to time to catch up with his cousins in Springfield, Killucan and Rochfortbridge.
He also had a maternal aunt, the late Monica Reynolds, living in Mount Street.
Settled in Dublin, Neil is discreet about his personal life, saying there is an other half, but not disclosing whether she is also in the world of entertainment.
Busy with his regular Sunday morning slot, ‘Neil Delamere’s Sunday Best’, which airs every Sunday from 11am to 1pm on Today FM, as well as the recent filming for ‘Eureka’, Neil tours each year from Christmas to May, with a new show each time.
Of Control+Alt+Delamere, he says there’s “the usual craic of messing with the audiences”, together with his take on various things happening at the moment – as well as plenty of material gained during the filming of the ‘Eureka’ segments, which, rather nicely, took him even as far as Puerto Rico, a trip undertaken to see the world’s largest radio telescope. “Most of the programmes feature an Irish connection, so in that one, we do Boyle’s Law.”
Interesting as it all was, Neil, whose own background is in computer applications, has no interest in returning to education to deepen further his scientific knowledge.
“My curiosity is sated by people who are much more expert in the field,” he laughs, listing Professors Luke O’Neill and Aoife McLysaght, both of Trinity, as being among those professional scientists who have contributed to the series.
He senses a bit of a “rebounding” in Ireland, from the gloomy days of the depths of the economic crash.
“Maybe not for everybody, but there is definitely more of an air of optimism – a slight rebound anyway!”
You can hear his full thoughts on the subject live at The Greville during his March 11 show.
• Follow Neil on neildelamere.com, FB: Neil Delamere, Twitter @neildelamere. For ticket and tour info for CTRL+ALT+DELAMERE visit neildelamere.com/gigs or contact the Greville Arms at 044 934 8563.