Double celebration for popular fundraiser

There was a double celebration in Dowling’s pub last Sunday night to mark Matt Browne’s 60th birthday and his 40 years in show business, or, as he puts it, “acting the maggot”.

There was a double celebration in Dowling’s pub last Sunday night to mark Matt Browne’s 60th birthday and his 40 years in show business, or, as he puts it, “acting the maggot”.

He’s more enthusiastic about the fun end of things than he is about entering his seventh decade, but he remains as irrepressible as ever.

In 1972, he started with ‘Crazy Nights’ which were essentially themed party nights. This then evolved into ‘Mad Hatters’ and eventually ‘Thorny Rose’ nights.

“It was basically fun on stage, cabaret. It was people entertaining themselves. I had about 250 games made up, basically kids games, but when you get drunk people to have a go it gets very funny,” he explained.

He also played the drums in a number of bands for many years, but it’s charity work that he has become best known for.

“The first three letters in ‘fund-raising’ are ‘fun’. It’s a great way to keep yourself young. What a laugh doesn’t cure, there’s no cure for?”

Finding that it was hard to generate money from the party nights unless they were for charity, and having a background in disability - “my father was in a wheelchair all my life, so I have an affinity with people with disability” - he was a co-founder and chairman of the John Sullivan Centre in Clane.

And it went from there. In 1988 he reversed a bus around Ireland and some years later he reversed it from Cork to Dublin in one day.

Then he jet-skied around the coast of Ireland, and got involved in sheep steeple chases.

Now he is a full-time fund-raiser with Rehab.

“Anything I was involved in, there was fun. Some people play golf and others play tennis – I prefer to have fun.”

Notwithstanding his 60th birthday, he warns: “I’m not finished yet. I don’t want to grow old. I’ve a few ideas lined up yet!”

His conversation with the Leinster Leader ended with the sage advice: “And you can write whatever you like after that. Make it up!”