As he prepares for a new challenge, Meath comedian Rory O’Connor tells
Denise Smith he’s fighting fit
Rory O’Connor was the runaway success story on RTÉ’s Ultimate Hell Week, sparking a conversation around men’s mental health, all while capturing the hearts of the nation as he was put through a gruelling Special Forces selection course. Now the comedian who is better known by his social media handle, Rory’s Stories, is back for some more punishment in the form of Hell & Back, the yearly assault course that puts the public through their paces — and he’s calling up the big guns. “If I could pair up with anyone it would have to be Rambo and Chuck Norris. Theycould pick me up and throw me around the course,” laughs the Facebook star. “I definitely wouldn’t consider myself a blogger or an influencer. I don’t post that many stories, my page is mainly around exercise and mental wellbeing — that’s why Hell & Back was so ideal. “At the end of the day you are just building mental resilience, and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I am not saying I am Superman, but I will give it a lash and get through it.”
Carving out a well-established career in comedy, the 35-year-old has become a household name thanks to his satirical sketches. But the larger-than-life comic admits he felt out of his depth while braving the military bootcamp last year.
“There was a moment on the first morning when we were stripped down to our boxers. And I am looking over at Peter Stringer, an Irish rugby legend, and double Olympian Melanie Nocher, and then there’s Rory O’Connor who played midfield Junior B for his club two weeks ago with a belly and arse hanging out, and thinking: ‘What am I doing here?’” jokes the Meath man.
“I just relied on my mental strength to get me through. I don’t think I would do it again.”
It’s the same mental endurance that helped the dad-of-three bounce back after the family almost became homeless three years ago.
“It’s horrible, we moved into my mam and dad’s house during the first lockdown and we count our blessings every day when we sit down on the couch.
“Like everyone, we’d love a bigger house and a bigger back garden. But at the end of the day, we have a roof over our heads, and we are very thankful for that.
“In April 2020, I was sitting in my parents’ front room having a cup of tea, and my job was a comedian on stage. Nobody was allowed look at each other, nevermind sit together.
“I couldn’t have been further away from getting a mortgage, but we got in there and got it. So keep the positive vibes going and just do your best,” he urges.
“I know that’s easy to say when I have my house, but I have been that soldier, sitting in my mam’s feeling useless with kids upstairs not having a house for them — but you will get there.”
Hell & Back, sponsored by Londis, takes place at Killruddery Estate, Wicklow, throughout June-October, 2022. Register at hellandback.ie