Travel Tales with Fergal – Patrick Monahan

The Travel Tales with Fergal Podcast returns with an interview with the hilarious English comedian Patrick Monahan.

Patrick is half Irish/half Iranian which Monahan jokes lead to his family most of their holidays in customs. This is a great episode to beat the January blues as Patrick is a big bundle of energy who has performed all over the world and is full of very funny travel stories.


Monahan’s father moved to England from Roscommon at the age of 18. Work as a welder took him to the Middle East, where he met Monahan’s mother. Monahan, who is the youngest of three children, was born in Ahvaz, an Iranian city on the banks of the Karun River, in 1976.

By 1979, Iran was in a revolution. The Shah was overthrown and the Ayatollah Khomeini declared an Islamic republic. A year later, Iran was at war with Iraq. It was risky for Monahan’s family.

“Where we were living, in Ahvaz, was close to the Iraqi border,” says Monahan. “You had Iraqis coming over and back, attacking. There were loads of people fleeing, but families with more than one son weren’t allowed to leave, because of conscription. The Iranians’ main objective was to have a massive army.

“My mum and dad took my brother out. I was with my nana and granddad. They acted as my parents and I was their ‘kid’. We were lucky, because of the Irish connection. Our uncle had three sons, so they had to stay there until later in the ’80s and ’90s, and go the long way around by land, around the bottom of Iran, and ended up driving through Turkey and on into Europe, and stuff. It was a lot trickier for them.”

Monahan’s father settled the family in Middlesbrough, in the north of England, where steel work was plentiful. They haven’t been back to Iran since. Monahan says his mother “would have a heart attack” if he returned to visit. While in his 20s, he was still at risk of being conscripted.

“Growing up on Teeside was hilarious, with my background,” he says of his upbringing in Yorkshire. “Even Irish was quite exotic. As a child, I didn’t realise my mum and dad had accents. When friends used to come around, they used to say, ‘why does your dad talk like that?’ All people knew about Iran or Ireland, during the ’80s, was what they saw in the news about the Iraqi war and the Irish blowing up things. People were a bit confused. Anytime there was a war in the Middle East, people would assume that was where we were from. I learned to make a joke about it. You could either fight it or go with it. I think that’s where the comedy comes from with me.”

Monahan catapulted to fame on ITV’s Show Me the Funny contest in 2011. He was the winner of 10 contestants in a comedy ‘decathlon’. The jury included established comics such as Alan Davies, Johnny Vegas and Jo Brand.

The Travel Tales with Fergal Podcast will have some great episodes coming up over the next few weeks including a very special episode on the legendary food and travel writer Anthony Bourdain next week.

Fergal O’Keeffe has a lifelong love of travel and has visited over 40 countries. He brings his natural curiosity and passion for travel when interviewing a wide range of guests from the arts, sport, journalism, travel business and expats.

The Travel Tales with Fergal Podcast drops every Tuesday here and people can follow all his updates on @traveltaleswithfergal on Instagram.