Earlier this year, I was contacted by the BBC and asked to participate in a new two-part television series about the moon for Channel 5. They told me the series would be presented by Dara Ó Briain and that they would like me to appear on the programme to discuss ancient megalithic art at Knowth which may represent early calculations of lunar cycles.
I said yes, of course, and was thrilled to have an opportunity to work with Dara Ó Briain, a famous comedian and TV star from Ireland.
Fast-forward to 23rd March, the day of my birthday, and myself and Ann and Tara and Finn, along with my good friend Richard Moore, found ourselves in a pub in County Wicklow called The Little Moon, for filming of my conversation with Dara about the enigmatic carvings at Knowth which seem to astronomers to be depictions of the Metonic Cycle of the Moon.
Dara Ó Briain and Anthony Murphy filming in The Little Moon pub for Channel 5.
It was entirely coincidental that filming took place on my birthday. That part was not contrived!
Filming took about two hours, during which Dara and I discussed the interpretation of the crescent and circle symbols on kerb stone 52 at Knowth, which we viewed on a computer screen as we chatted. The film crew were lovely, and the whole thing was very professional and yet thoroughly enjoyable.
Dara Ó Briain chatting with Richard Moore during a break in filming.
My good friend Tom King, ‘An Gobha’, was also there. Dara conversed with my family, and Richard, and Tom, and seemed very laid back and was clearly enjoying his day in Wicklow.
After filming, Dara was presented with a spiral pendant by Tom King 'An Gobha'.
We took a break from filming to enjoy some lunch, laid on by the staff of The Little Moon, which was delicious.
And then the surprise came. As we finished lunch, in walked Dara Ó Briain with a birthday cake, singing happy birthday. You can watch a video of that moment below, and you may well notice that I was speechless – a rare occurrence as my wife constantly reminds me and others that “Anthony can talk”!
I blew out the candles and complimented Dara on his singing. It was a memorable day, not just because we all got to meet the famous Dara Ó Briain, but because of his warmth and the fact that he took time to chat with everyone who was there.
Dara poses for a photograph with the Murphy family!
After filming was finished, Dara posed for photographs with us all, and even signed some autographs. What a gent!
I presented Dara with a copy of my Mythical Ireland book after filming.
The Channel 5 series, called ‘Secrets of Our Moon’, will be aired in late autumn/early winter. Read more details about the show here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/bbcstudios/2023/bbc-studios-science-unit-to-produce-dara-o-briain-secrets-of-our-moon-for-channel-5
Dara Ó Briain signing autographs for us in The Little Moon pub.
March 23rd 2023 will live long in my memory as the day the famous Dara Ó Briain gave me a birthday cake and sang happy birthday. It was without doubt one of my best birthdays ever, and I was so grateful to have the company of Ann, Tara, Finn, Richard and Tom.
You can see another video of the birthday cake presentation on YouTube here.