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Byline: Fiona Wynne

HE'S the queen of Telly Bingo, a former alternative Miss Ireland and known for his pigtails and freckles. But where does SHIRLEY TEMPLE BAR end and DECLAN BUCKLEY begin? Fiona Wynne finds out.

Are you very different to Shirley or is it difficult to separate the two?

Shirley is just the same as me, I do it for the fun. It's a mental idea I know but I have a lot of fun as Shirley.

Do you see yourself as a trend-setter for Ireland's gay community?

I'm not the first gay person to be upfront and unashamed of my sexuality. The gay environment has changed in the last few years with more people coming out, it's just because Shirley is drag as well that people see me as a first, but Brendan Courtney and Graham Norton have been on telly for years.

Where did you come up with the name Shirley Temple Bar?

I was getting ready to do a show with a couple of friends and it was the funniest and most suitable name we came up with, it just says I'm young and I'm Dublin.

Why did you choose your character?

Most of what I wanted to say was sort of tongue in cheek humour, it's silly and childish and cheeky and I thought I would best get away with this as a teenage girl.

Leaving Shirley aside for a minute, how is Declan's love life at the minute?

I can only say spectacular, absolute fireworks. I'll not say who, but there is a special someone and I have been in a wonderful relationship for quite a while now.

You have been presenting Telly Bingo for a while now, are you enjoying it?

I am really only getting my head around it now. It is very different to anything I had been doing in the past, I'm used to not having an audience, or having time limits. I am a bit of a rambler, so sometimes people just have to tell me to shut up.

What were you doing before Telly Bingo?

I started presenting Bingo in The George on Sunday nights and I still do that, that is how I really got into RTE. I had my 250th show a couple of weeks ago and it's still great fun.

How did you end up on RTE?

RTE wanted a younger audience to start watching Telly Bingo and at first they thought I would attract a young audience and a gay audience but I might lose the traditional audience, but that hasn't happened, I guess the grannies just love their bingo too much.

Has Dublin's gay community changed much in the last few years?

It has and it hasn't. People are more comfortable about being outwardly gay but at the same time some people can still a bit narrow minded.

Going back to when you first came out, was it difficult to tell your parents and friends?

My parents were always fantastic about it, they always supported me. I was in university before I came to terms with it myself and then I had to leave the country to get my head around it. I came back with the attitude, 'This is who I am, if you don't like it that's fine with me.' The first steps are hard but after that it's not so bad.


TV STAR: Declan as Shirley Temple Bar
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 18, 2002
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