Ross O'Carroll-Kelly: Wikis


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Ross O'Carroll-Kelly  
Author Paul Howard
Country Ireland
Language English
Genre(s) Humour
Publisher The O'Brien Press, Penguin
Media type Paperback and audiobook

Ross O'Carroll-Kelly is a fictional Irish rugby jock created by journalist Paul Howard.[1] The character of Ross is a satirical depiction of a wealthy, self-obsessed, "D4", rugby union player. Howard distances himself from his protagonist's viewpoint by describing himself as being "as working class as curry sauce, processed cheese slices and borrowing money from the credit union."[2]

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 regularly appeared in the Irish bestseller lists.


Works in the series

Type Title Title reference Publication Synopsis
Novel The Miseducation of Ross O'Carroll-Kelly
(revised edition titled The Miseducation Years)
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill The O'Brien Press Ross's last two years at Castlerock College and his Leinster Senior Cup victory
Novel Roysh Here, Roysh Now... The Teenage Dirtbag Years
(revised edition titled The Teenage Dirtbag Years)
"Teenage Dirtbag" The O'Brien Press Ross's first year at UCD and holiday in the U.S.
Novel The Orange Mocha-Chip Frappuccino Years Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years as well as a line from Zoolander The O'Brien Press, March 2003 Ross's parents force him to fend for himself as an estate agent
Novel PS, I Scored The Bridesmaids PS, I Love You The O'Brien Press, April 2005 Ross and Sorcha get married
CD The Twelve Days of Christmas "The Twelve Days of Christmas" Magpie Productions Ltd., November 2005 A comedy album about the leadup to Ross's Christmas.
Novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightdress The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time Penguin Books, June 2006 Ross discovers that he is a father
Novel Should Have Got Off at Sydney Parade A reference to alighting from the DART at the last stop before Sandymount: a reference to coitus interruptus. Penguin Books, May 2007 Sorcha falls pregnant
Stage play The Last Days of the Celtic Tiger "Celtic Tiger" refers to a period of prosperity in the Republic of Ireland between about 1992 and 2006 Premiered at the Olympia Theatre, November 2007 Plot is similar to that of This Champagne Mojito Is The Last Thing I Own
Mock travel guide Ross O'Carroll-Kelly's Guide to (South) Dublin: How To Get By On, Like, €10,000 A Day Common travel guide title, "How to get by on [amount] a day" (where [amount] is usually a relatively small sum, such as $50 or €50) Penguin Books, May 2008 A mock-travel guide to "SoCoDu."
Novel This Champagne Mojito Is The Last Thing I Own "This Bloody Mary Is The Last Thing I Own" Penguin Books, June 2008 Ross's father is imprisoned and his assets seized.
Novel Mr S and the Secrets of Andorra's Box Pun on Pandora's Box Penguin Books, October 2008 Ross becomes manager of the Andorra national rugby union team, and discovers that Erika is actually his sister.
Compilation Ross O'Carroll-Kelly and the Temple of Academe Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Penguin Books, February 2009 Contains The Miseducation Years and The Teenage Dirtbag Years.
Book of mock interviews We Need To Talk About Ross: A True History of the O'Carroll-Kelly Gang We Need To Talk About Kevin and True History of the Kelly Gang Penguin Books, June 2009 A book of mock-interviews in which characters from the series discuss the protagonist.
Novel Rhino What You Did Last Summer I Know What You Did Last Summer Penguin Books, September 2009 Ross goes Stateside in order to win Sorcha back. While there, he ends up becoming the star of his own reality TV show.


The series is written entirely in Ross' first-person perspective, written in an eye dialect representation of the intonation attributed 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 Dublin accent as represented by Howard has distinctive features:

  • 'Car' is written as 'cor', 'Arts' as 'Orts', 'star' as 'stor', and 'fuck' as 'fock', 'right' as 'roysh'. (The latter two are used frequently.)
  • The "soft T" prevails: 'Right' becomes 'Roysh', 'DART' becomes 'Dorsh'.
  • A form of rhyming slang exists: 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-bite is 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.
  • 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 scanger 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", "Anitas" (written as Anee-eh) 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 and later books were borrowed from Bret Easton Ellis's satirical novel, American Psycho. For example:

  • Ross describes in exacting detail the clothes those around him are wearing, and their physical appearance only as far as commenting on their attractiveness and in women the case of women describing their posterior and breast size.
  • Characters deliver detailed vignettes about aspects of popular culture. For example in an early scene the character Christian discusses the incestuous undertones of Star Wars.
  • One of Bateman's friends mocks a homeless man by holding out a $1 bill, then putting it back in his wallet. Ross and his friends drive to poor areas of Dublin and throw money out of the car, laughing at the locals who scramble for it.

Male and female characters in both Ellis' novel and the ROCK stories exhibit near-identical behaviour for their gender, Ross distinguishing the females only by the posh private school they attended, a post they held at that school (hockey captain, Head Girl, etc.) and resemblance to a celebrity. According to Howard, the major influence on his style in the series is actually Ellis's Less than Zero, which is set in California and about a group of privileged 16-18 year olds.[citation needed]


Ross's family

Ross Kyle Gibson McBride O'Carroll-Kelly - The protagonist and 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 portmanteau of Castleknock College and 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 an intense hatred for "scangers" 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's 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's 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's 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 Gibson and 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.

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 that Ross's respect for his father grows as a result of this. In "Mr S and the Secrets of Andorra's Box", Charles declares to Ross that he and Erika are siblings and that this is the reason Fionnuala wrote "Criminal Assets".

Fionnuala O'Carroll-Kelly - Ross's mother. Often gets involved in campaigns (such as "Halting Sites Where They're Appropriate") to keep working class and 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. 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. In 2008, she loses a contract with Penguin and signs a new contract with a new publishing house.

Sorcha Eidemar Françoise O'Carroll-Kelly (née Lalor) - Ross's 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 (who she left Ross for in 2001) and now lives in California with him.

Ronan Masterson - Ross's illegitimate son, who, to Ross's eternal shame, is a prime example of the skanger subculture. 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 their 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". In 2008, at 10 years of age he falls in love for the first time with a "Mountie" named Blaithin. She is very similar to Sorcha, and is a world apart from Ronan.

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 6th 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. Takes her first steps in Starbucks, Dundrum. Currently living in California, USA with Sorcha and Cillian.

Ross's friends

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 slogans and 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 Christianity and 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" (i.e. one of the guys), a large man with the ability to eat just about anything, as proved following his victory at the annual UCD Iron Stomach eating competition. Deliberately goes out with the ugliest girls. He used to work in the duty free perfume department in Dublin Airport on Saturday when he was attending Castlerock College. An aspiring perfume creator, he is able to tell exactly what aftershave or perfume his friends are wearing. His "old dear" is a "yummy mummy". 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. Though he showed initial feelings for Sorcha, the love of his life is probably Aoife, her bulimic best friend. 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 7th book stems from the death of his fiancee 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.

Derek "One F" Foley - Sports Columnist from "The Stor" and head of the "Echo and the Moneymen" consortium, who, along with Ross, Christian, Oisinn, Fionn and JP, bought Lillie's Bordello in 2004. He is obsessed with Tina Turner, Cher and the Vietnam War. Constantly referred to by Ross as a "ledge" (slang for "Legend").


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 puns. Hennessy is quite fond of the female natives of South East Asia. Along with Charles, Hennessy is a parody of the corrupt past of Irish life as exposed in the long-running tribunals of Inquiry.

Erika - Sorcha's closest friend during college even though she cannot stand Sorcha's caring nature. Hobbies include horse riding and dating super-rich men. Currently is pursuing a career in organising 'Divorce Fairs' including divorce parties and cruises. Totally uninterested with the predictable topics her girlfriends talk about (favourite moment in Dawson's Creek, Weight Watchers points 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. It is also found out at the end of Mr S And The Secrets Of Andorras Box that she is Ross's half sister as we find out that Charles O'Carroll Kelly is her real father.

Aoife - A kind, sweet-natured South Dublin princess, and Sorcha's best friend from secondary school. Like Sorcha, her interests include shopping and watching Friends, Dawson's Creek and The O.C. She also worked at Sorcha's boutique for a brief period. She suffered from both anorexia and bulimia nervosa, and is often mentioned as being in and out of hospital. Ross describes her as being like a sister to him, and considered her the love of Fionn's life. Ross says she is beautiful, likening her to Katie Holmes, yet her negative body image and issues with eating disorders lead to her death at the end of the 7th book, and the heartbreak of her husband Fionn.

Claire - One of Sorcha's college friends who is extremely close to her, disliked by Erika as she claimed that she was originally from Dalkey when actually from Bray. Was one of the Bridesmaids at Ross and Sorcha's ill-fated wedding and was chosen over Erika as a bridesmaid due to her plain looks and little chance that she'd be competition for the bride.

Father Denis Fehily - Principal of Castlerock College. Rugby is all-important; students on the Senior 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 propagandist for 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 their 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. It is also revealed after his death that it was he, who had noticed Ross's learning disability of being unable to read until he was 15. It was Father Fehily who stayed back after school to help teach Ross how to read and it is one of the reasons Ross holds so much respect for him.

Cultural impact

Ross O'Carroll-Kelly is something of a craze in Ireland, and his name has become a byword for all that is perceived to be wrong in Celtic Tiger Ireland. Though it is largely viewed as satire, there are those who view Ross O'Carroll-Kelly as a role model or an idol. Paul Howard has claimed some people have imitated Ross'friends pastime of driving through disadvantaged areas in expensive cars, shouting "Affluence!" at passers-by and throwing five-euro notes out the window.[2] Following Ross' move to The Irish Times, the Irish Independent began 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 Independent that Howard had left the newspaper. [1] On 29 August, 2007 The Irish Times carried 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[3]. 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.


  1. ^ Interview with Paul Howard, Robert Ryan,, retrieved 18 January 2010
  2. ^ a b [ Spawning a bundle of 'Rosser' wannabes, top snob takes to stage], Irish Independent, 31 August 2007, retrieved 9 April 2009
  3. ^ Ross O'Carroll-Kelly - The Last Days of the Celtic Tiger

External links

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