Shannon & Bunratty special feature: The man with two names tells tall tales of how it used to be

Bunratty Seanachaí Mike Glynn. Pic: Cian Reinhardt

MOST people will know him as Tommy-Joe, the proprietor of Corry’s Pub in Bunratty Folk park and teller of tall tales to the visitors to Santa’s Village, including the one about him and Mrs Claus being identical twins.

In real life, although who knows what that is when you wear so many fantasy hats, Tommy-Joe’s alter-ego is Mike Glynn from Sixmilbridge and he’s been captivating young and old alike as the Seanachai who brings Christmas to life thorough songs and stories in the other world that is Santa at Bunratty.

Tommy-Joe will fill visitors in on his life with the sometimes absent Briggie, with whom he had sixteen children, “fifteen of ours and she had one of her own,” he says.

Ask him if his wife missed him on his frequent absences to the UK when work was scarce here and he’s tell you a “very romantic thing”.

“I asked her did she ever miss me and she said, ‘yes, Tommy-Joe – on a Tuesday in March when you were crossing in front of me while I was driving the tractor, I missed you that time”.

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Mike has worn many hats at Bunratty, having been drafted in to perform in different roles for events since 1992 and he has been part of the Bunratty Santa Experience since families first started coming to see the great man in 2002.

During the summer season, Mike trades places and becomes the school principal, showing children what it was like like to attend school in a bygone era.

“It doesn’t matter what problems of our own we have. When you come here, it’s pure fantasy and you leave all those things behind.” Mike told the Limerick Post.

“The fun and enjoyment for me is to see the lovely children and families who come here and this is such a part of their Christmas. We have great craic and the children add to it as much as I do.

“It’s wonderful to see them sitting down and listening to my yarns. I tell them about me having control of Santa’s book with the grey marks for doing naughty things and we wipe them out before the children go. And then there’s the black book with marks for children who have done kind things”.

And Mike is never more delighted than when the children bring their own talents to the table, telling him a joke or a story or performing a song of their own.

“What happens here is magic. It’s people entertaining each other the way we used to to do, long before television or computer devices were ever heard of,” he says.