The day started with Martin (PLDN Director) throwing his ukulele into the back of the van as we packed up the PLDN lounge to head over to the London Irish Centre…
It’s hard to put yourself in the shoes of one of the world biggest musical artists. But, for the sake of this journal entry, I will try.
Or… at the very least set a bit of context as to how big this event is. Not just for PLDN as the highest-profile commission to date for the agency. But, also and more importantly how special and poignant the event is for the London Irish Centre.
Ed Sheeran, fresh off of his sold-out #Divideworldtour he had only played his last Wembley date on Sunday, where he was joined by the likes of Stormzy and Andrea Bocelli. Skip ahead to Tuesday 9th June this week – He’s now about to play an intimate party at the London Irish Centre for about 350 invited guests. Tucked away on Camden Square, It wasn’t just a ‘gig’, instead, it was a party. In fact, it was (repeatedly) referred to as just that. And what a party. It. Was.
It is easy to see why Dermot O’Leary is considered a bit of a national treasure – spending time with him, I’ve got to say he’s a decent guy and you can tell his reason for being there and putting his name to the event, was nothing other than because he believes in the London Irish Centre. This was his way of helping and you could tell from his entrance at 4 pm to the centre, he was excited about it too! He wasn’t alone in that. My friend had Debs even flew all the way in from Canada for it as a surprise! Not sure who she was more excited for either, Dermot or Ed. We will never know.
During the day you couldn’t tell whether the huge Saville Productions rig was going to be powered by the giant generators outside, or the energy and excitement in the place!
In a special conversation set up for Tourism Ireland after Ed’s VVIP meet and greet, he joined Dermot on stage to discuss their memories, favourite places and what Ireland means to them.
During the main show, they talked again about their favourite places, gigs and venues in Ireland and the reason why we were all there in the first place – to raise well-needed funds for the London Irish Centre £6M venue refurbishment plans.
Naturally, Ed wasn’t alone on stage for long before he was joined by various artists who had inspired him over the years. Having grown up in Ireland, Wexford in particular (same place as my girlfriend actually) it was obvious why Ed is a perfect patron for the London Irish Centre.
Before the show, Ed and Dermot joined me on the PLDN Lounge sofa tucked away in the chapel at the top of the venue for a more informal chat.
With the Metro, RTE (BBC Ireland) and other press teams watching our film, I sat down and chatted with Ed and Dermot. Our creative team including Nicky (Head of Film), Jonny (Production Manager), Nick (Creative Director), and Luke (Social Media Manager) behind the cameras we explored what made LIC special and what they were most excited about ahead of the party downstairs later in the evening.
It was already the biggest event the venue had ever put on and it was to set to be a truly unique and intimate evening celebrating Ireland and its musical influences on Ed’s music. To Martins delight, we then found out whether or not Dermot could, in fact, play the Ukulele better than Ed ( but you’ll have to watch our official backstage content to find out the answer to that).
Before we wrapped the interview we also discussed what (as LIC patrons) their plans were for the future regarding the new concept; ‘Dermot & Friends: An Evening With’. As we talked about who was joining Ed and Dermot that night we joked about our joint appreciation for the Irish tv show LOVE/HATE before speaking of how the LIC will be considered the future go-to destination for celebrating Irish Culture. Both the guys were on good form and even on the verge of the obligatory post-tour cold/flu, Ed went downstairs and smashed through about 12 songs.
Sitting here writing this, it feels mad that PLDN have now worked with and I was lucky enough to be invited to interview Ed Sheeran on behalf of the London Irish Centre.
There seems to be a theme to June for us at PLDN… #IRELAND
Especially, having just come off of a tour across Northern Ireland directing our film crew as we joined with Gemita and Lupa for Jack Wills summer campaign #hittheroadjack. Skip forward a week and we are then sat in production meetings and chatting with Tourism Ireland, Saville Productions, and LIC about all things Irish (including Tayto Crisps). I’d only been to Ireland once before all this, and now within a month I had been there two more times, worked with the London Irish Centre, met the whole of my girlfriends Irish Family, heard the name Wexford more times than ever before in the space of just ten minutes and now, looking back at footage of a show celebrating the place. There are worse things to do for work that’s for sure.
The coast of Belfast has some of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. I can see why so many familiar faces showed up to support the launch of the redevelopment of the London Irish Centre.
With the funds, the London Irish community will have a continued place to go to celebrate all things Ireland. And as Maive (the longest-serving volunteer) said to us “…You’ll never be alone walking through that door and you’ll always have a friend in the London Irish Centre don’t you worry”.
Dara O’Brien certainly had a few things to say about it, as did Alan Carr and you can see what guests were saying about it in the official LIC show content (coming soon).
All of the official event content will be available via the London Irish Centre channels over the coming weeks with our own backstage content living across our own channels including Instagram @paradiselondonofficial and on our youtube channel HERE.
This truly was a milestone moment for PLDN and for the London Irish Centre. We are proud to have supported and been involved with the event. Congratulations to everyone involved and well done all the people working with and volunteering at the London Irish Centre for raising a huge amount of money. It is clear it is an important place and should be celebrated.
Safe to say it was also a career highlight for me to have landed us the opportunity and also as a presenter! What a day and well done to all my PLDN brothers and Joyce (photographer extraordinaire) that made it possible for us to capture the special event.
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