They Say Don't Meet Your Heroes
80’s Baby, 90’s T.V.
Many Irish people my age watched ‘The Den’ each day after school. If you’re not familiar with ‘The Den’ it was a children’s TV show in the 80s and 90s that was on Monday to Friday on RTÉ the national broadcaster.
It featured a presenter and cheeky puppets which introduced cartoons, held gameshows and competitions. There were also guests on the show that had special regular segments like Don Conroy an artist that thought children how to draw various animals and people.
Many of us drew pictures of Zig and Zag, Socky, Dustin and Snotzer in the hopes we’d get featured on the show, win a Den t-shirt or maybe a mug. A true trophy for our artistic efforts in the 1990’s.
Like many children I was given Don Conroy’s books when I was a child. I learned how to draw witches, Frankenstein, ghosts and of course owls from my favourite book of his, ‘Cartoon Fun’. I even remember painting some of the characters on school windows for art class. These types of memories and experiences shape us as adults. Art was something I did everyday and was an interest my parents supported. As an adult design is the way I have turned my love for art and creative problem solving into a career.
Of course, when I discovered Don Conroy was a special guest at in the local arts centre I bought a ticket in the hope he would sign my childhood books and he did! Don is exactly how you expect him to be; warm, smiley and just really lovely. He was delighted to have a chat with me and he even drew a seal and what he’s known for an owl on both the books I brought. He also invited us to his workshop which was on later on in the day.
Lots of children sat up the front at his workshop and many adults lingered at the back looking for that nostalgia buzz like myself. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only grown, adult to bring my old books with me as I spotted one or two others with copies of ‘Wildlife Fun’ waiting for a moment for him to sign theirs too.
During his workshop Don grabbed the children’s attention and spoke about cave drawings and their discovery then showed the audience how to draw a wizard, a heron and other wildlife.
All in all, it was a truly wholesome day which brought me back to my childhood. Some days we need to connect with how and why we began our journey as creatives. This was one of those days for me. They say don’t meet your heroes but that day I was glad I met a childhood hero of mine.