The Governess Chaser reveals her Irish background with howling banshee story

Anne Hegerty

The popular quiz show The Chase is developing something of an Irish flavour these days.

It recently introduced the Irish wonder quizzer Darragh Ennis as the new chaser, nicknamed The Menace after the famously naughty cartoon character from the Beano comic…well, at least it’s better that The Beast, the name given to poor Mark Labbett.

But while Darragh The Menace Ennis’ Irish connection was obvious from his lilting accent, the only hint we had of Anne Hegerty’s link to Ireland was her surname. Anne, otherwise known as The Governess, revealed her family connection to Ireland while on the Chaser spin off programme, Beat the Chasers.

The contestant on the show was given the question:

“In Irish folklore, which fairy often takes the form of a tiny old man, often with a cocked hat and a leather apron?”

The three possible answers were A) Banshee B) Kelpie and C) Leprechaun.

The contestant got the question right, leprechaun of course, but then Anne went on to explain the origin of the other two words. She said: “Kelpies are technically Scottish, they are mystical beings who take the form of horses.

“But banshees are Irish and they’re supposed to wail if someone in the house has died or is about to die. My family in County Laois had a banshee that lived in the apple tree – and somebody one day chopped the apple tree down and the banshee was simply furious!

“She flew three times around the farmhouse and then perched herself on top of the farmhouse and announced that within three generations there wouldn’t be any of us left in Ireland.

“And there aren’t – we all went somewhere else!”

Well, Anne’s family and millions of others too…given the level of emigration from Ireland to America and the UK over the last 150 years.

Anne had previously revealed that she had family links to Co Cork and to Co Down.

Meanwhile, Darragh Ennis has revealed the story behind his nickname. He works at Oxford University and so the producers thought it would be a good idea to call him the professor. However, Darragh was uneasy with that.

Darragh Ennis

Darragh said: “They did say that to me, but I work in the university here in Oxford and professor is a title that you really have to earn. I think people would be very annoyed if I started calling myself The Professor.

“So I said I didn’t want that, but they didn’t tell me what my name would be until I was on set. I was on stage, waiting to go on when I first heard.”

So, the they called him The Menace instead, which met with Darragh’s approval. He said: “I like it, it’s good. I can’t wait for the merchandise.”

Well, who wouldn’t like be named after a naughty cartoon character?

Despite his great success as a Chaser, Darragh remains modest and says there are many people who are far better quizzers than he is. He takes part in the quiz leagues in Oxford where he lives and says he often gets beaten.

The difference, he says, is that many of the people who beat him in the leagues are unable to hold their cool under the hot lights of the TV studios when the pressure is on, which perhaps also explains why so many contestants say they do really well when watching on their sofa at home but tend to freeze when they get on the show and do it for real.

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Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcallingJoin our community