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Russell Crowe and Ronan Keating bring star power to Muff



Russell Crowe and Ronan Keating bring star power to Muff

By Mike McBrideBBC News NI

BBC Russell Crowe, Ronan Keating and Ryan Tubridy pictured together in front of an artful wall with different coloured designs at the Muff Liquor Company. Keating is one the left, wearing a dark shirt and white t-shirt with short, cropped blonde hair. Crowe is in the middle with a blue hoodie and sunglasses perched on top of his head. Tubridy is on the right wearing a navy suit and light blue shirt. BBC

Russell Crowe, Ronan Keating and Ryan Tubridy visited Muff in County Donegal

The rural Irish village of Muff is an unlikely place for an Oscar-winning actor, a former member of Irish boy band royalty and an award-winning radio host to meet on a rainy Tuesday.

While all eyes were on Dublin last week as global superstar Taylor Swift rolled into the Republic of Ireland’s capital as part of her Eras Tour, it was the turn of this tiny spot in County Donegal to roll out the red carpet (quite literally).

Hopeful locals lined the streets to catch a glimpse of Gladiator star Russell Crowe, Irish singer-songwriter Ronan Keating and Irish TV and radio presenter Ryan Tubridy as they arrived to open a new state-of-the-art distillery, which has been described as a huge boost to local economy.

They, along with pop megastar Ed Sheeran and British comedian Jimmy Carr, are all investors in the Muff Liquor Company.

Russell Crowe being greeted by Laura Bonner as he emerges from a car after arriving at the Muff Liquor Company distillery in County Donegal. He is facing towards the camera, smiling at Ms Bonner while wearing sunglasses. She has her back to the camera and is wearing a bright blue jacket. The are surrounded by photographers taking pictures and dozens of onlookers, many of whom are taking photos on camera phones.

Large crowds gathered to catch a glimpse of Russell Crowe, who was greeted when he arrived by distillery firm founder Laura Bonner

The firm was set up by Laura Bonner back in 2017, and the company has now transformed a former car dealership in the centre of the village into a distillery.

Crowe’s arrival was cheered by a large crowd, including some who had waited for hours in the rain.

He told BBC News NI he had received a phenomenal reception since arriving in Ireland.

The Oscar-winning actor added it was his first visit to County Donegal and that he was delighted to come to this picturesque part of the island.

Alicia O'Kane smiling broadly, while wearing a grey hoodie and a white baseball cap. There are other onlookers in the background smiling and having a good time..

Alicia O’Kane said she wanted to give Ronan Keating and the other celebrities a “proper Donegal welcome”

The star of films such as A Beautiful Mind, The Nice Guys and Robin Hood joked that he didn’t know this many people owned cameras here as he was swarmed by the media and the many locals hoping to get a picture of the movie star.

Crowe added that he and the other celebrities involved in the project wanted the new distillery in Muff to be somewhere that “employs local people and is something that local people in the village can be proud of”.

‘I think I scared Ronan Keating’

Alicia O’Kane, who has lived in Muff for 17 years but is originally from Londonderry, said she wouldn’t miss today for the world.

She waited in the rain for more than two hours in the hope she would meet some of the famous visitors.

Ms O’Kane said she has “never seen such a buzz about the village” and wanted to be there today to give the celebrities a “proper Donegal welcome”.

She confessed she may have frightened Ronan Keating off after shouting ‘welcome to Muff, Ronan’ very loudly at him, but believes he took the “warm welcome” in good spirits as he posed for a quick selfie afterwards.

‘I was allowed out of work early’

Kara Saunders, who is also from Derry, was allowed to leave work early to make the short journey over the border from Northern Ireland to try to catch a glimpse of her idol Ronan Keating.

“All my friends were tagging me in posts on Facebook when they heard he would be coming here,” she told BBC News NI.

Kara Saunders smiling. She is wearing a green cardigan over a green Irish rugby tracksuit tp. She has brown hair pulled back into a ponytail and is standing in front of a road, on which there are two cars - one red and one dark grey.

Kara Saunders says she is a huge fan of Ronan Keating

Kara has been a fan of Ronan since she was a teenager, from his days in Boyzone, and has followed him right through his solo career.

She said she is a huge fan of his music and, despite other well-known names being here, she only has eyes for him.

Ronan Keating wearing a black shirt and with short cropped blonde hair. He has a neutral expression his face and is pictured in front of a white wall.

Ronan Keating said small Irish villages like Muff are the “backbone of Ireland”

Speaking to BBC News NI, Keating, who hails from Dublin, said he enjoyed many family holidays to Donegal as a child and is really excited about being involved in a business on this beautiful spot on the island.

He said hard-working small Irish communities like this one in Muff are the “backbone of Ireland” and he is excited about the potential here.

“It’s nice for us to be a part of this, my Irish heritage is really important to me.

“We used to pass through small villages like this all the time and it’s great to be able to spread the village of Muff all over the world.”

‘Take the village of Muff more seriously’

Grainne McCool, a writer from Muff, said she is delighted that some big names are in the village.

She hoped it will bring a boost to tourism and increase footfall for other local businesses

Grainne McCool, smiling, while wearing sunglasses and a denim top. She has short, wavy red hair and has the strap of a bag slung over her left shoulder.

Grainne McCool said she hopes celebrities investing in the area will help make people take the village of Muff “more seriously”

“Things like this bring the village alive, it brings people out and makes us feel special,” she said.

“The village is known for its name and people sort of laugh about us, but this will make people take the village of Muff a lot more seriously.”

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