|St Colman's Cathedral, Cobh Bay, Ireland|
Stan Laurel and Oliver "Babe" Hardy. Who can fail to be charmed, amused and uplifted by their unique comedies. They were our kindly, bumbling uncles always getting the worst of whatever enterprise they were engaged in. We loved them because we saw real people in their performances, people we knew and loved. They were able to lift our spirits no matter how dark and ugly the world around us was becoming. In their small, unassuming way they were truly a gift to suffering mankind.
In the mid-1950s when they were getting old and their best films were behind them they were induced to make a series of personal appearances in Europe, not only as a sort of vacation they had long put off but as a way of wondering if anyone still remembered them. One of their first stops was Ireland, and this is what happened when they arrived:
“The docks were swarming with many hundreds of people. ‘It’s strange, a strange thing,’ Stan says in recalling that day, ‘our popularity has lasted so long. Our last good pictures were made in the thirties, and you’d think people would forget, but they don’t. The love and affection we found that day at Cobh was simply unbelievable. There were hundreds of boats blowing whistles and mobs and mobs of people screaming on the docks. We just couldn’t understand what it was all about. And then something happened that I can never forget. All the church bells in Cobh started to ring out our theme song, and Babe looked at me, and we cried. Maybe people loved us and our pictures because we put so much love in them. I don’t know. I’ll never forget that day. Never”.