Stan and Ollie and Declan Murray from Ashbourne

Parents got Laurel and Hardy autograph for son 65 years ago

Louise Walsh

A Meath man has recalled how his parents got the autographs of comic legends Laurel and Hardy for him while staying in a Dublin hotel over 65 years ago.

As cinema-lovers flock to the new Stan & Ollie film, Declan Murray  from Ashbourne relayed how his mother even managed to persuade Stan Laurel to go back up to his hotel room and get Oliver Hardy to add his moniker too.

The cherished autographs were obtained on October 7th, 1953 at the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire where Cormac and Catherine Murray were staying

"My father was very interested in photography and film and used to have a 16mm Bell and Howell film projector.  We regularly had film showings of family events that my dad had taken and occasionally commercial films at our home in Ardsallagh, Navan," said Declan

"The then Parish Priest of Skryne, Fr Gerry Cooney, asked dad would he be able to show films on Sunday evenings in the local parish hall with a small entrance fee to boost parish funds.

"The films were usually cowboy ones like the Lone Ranger or Hopalong Cassidy and usually had a ten minute film of Laurel and Hardy beforehand.

"The films had to be collected from the National Film Institute on a Saturday and left back on a Monday so we were very lucky in that my four siblings and I had a preview at home on Saturday night and we just loved watching and laughing along to Laurel and Hardy."

It was in 1953 during a tour of Ireland that Laurel and Hardy stayed at the Royal Marine Hotel.

"My mam and dad were visiting the Royal Marine Hotel and word was going around the hotel that Laurel and Hardy were staying there.

"At the time, the word was that the duo were quite reclusive, particularly Oliver Hardy but then mum spotted Laurel walking about the hotel and approached him to ask for an autograph for her youngest son, which was me.

"He agreed straight away so mum got a postcard of the hotel and a sheet of the Royal Marine Hotel headed notepaper and Stan authenticated the autograph by placing a sticker of the pair above his signature, dedicated to me.

"Mum wrote Declan on top of the card so Stan had the right spelling

"My mum cheekily inquired where was Oliver Hardy and when Stan said he was upstairs, she asked if he would go upstairs to get his autograph and he said yes!

"As the youngest of the family, I remember getting it as I was so excited but I can't remember what my siblings thought about it," he laughed.

"I'm not an expert on Laurel and Hardy but I have always loved their slapstick comedy and will be going to see the new film," he concluded.