Feeling My Age

Getting older has its drawbacks – but it's a lot better than the alternative.

One of the more memorable TV advertising slogans of the last 20 years came from Murphy’s Irish Stout – whose main rival back in the 1990s was the hugely popular, though more bitter-tasting, Guinness brand.

Murphys brewery in Cork had been taken over by the Dutch giant Heineken, whose own lager famously “refreshes the parts that other beers cannot reach”. Heineken commissioned a series of 30 second vignettes set in Irish pubs starring a handsome young actor recovering from a series of humorous misfortunes with a comforting pint.

“Like the Murphys,” he would say, “I’m not bitter.” Take that, Guinness! The ads were launched during Channel Four’s Father Ted Christmas Special in 1996.But just who was this suave, twinkly-eyed star of all three ads, and why haven’t we seen more of him since then? It’s been extraordinarily hard to find out…

Wikipedia alleges that they were “voiced” by the actor Tony Clarkin – whose face isn’t remotely similar. Surely the actor in the video above is speaking his own lines, rather than miming to a voiceover? Or is he…

On Twitter @EdLorman and @Farce1111 plausibly reported that the central character was played the Northern Irish actor John Lynch – him out of Sliding Doors and In The Name Of The Father.

And there we would have left it, except that @nibortrauts (the singer Stuart Robin) flatly contradicted them. “It isn’t. Apparently he’s called Gerard Rooney. Looks similar though.” Google led down a blind alley to The Wrong Gerard Rooney (@GedRoon76) before finally leading to The Man Himself on IMDB.

Although IMDB shows no photos of him, Mr Rooney’s acting debut turns out to have been in a 1994 film called The Secret Of Roan Inish which – incredibly – also stars John Lynch. What are the chances, eh? And since some kind soul has thoughtfully posted that movie on YouTube in its entirety, we can now compare both men with the 1996 Murphys ad….

Murphys I'm Not Bitter Ad, John Lynch and Gerard Rooney

Surely it’s got to be Gerard Rooney. Hasn’t it?


  1. Steve Barker on November 15, 2014 7:46 pm

    It’s Gerard Rooney in the ads. And definitely not voiced over. I knew him at uni’

  2. kate on May 8, 2015 3:56 pm

    Neither am I, but Love stout…

  3. Rich on November 12, 2015 3:08 pm

    He played bhoran in an Irish duo ‘Quare Craic’ (?) that played at the Flea and Firkin (now Film and Firkin) in Manchester. Dated one of the bar maids. Had some great, drunken nights there. Nice guy.

  4. Sinead Rooney Tovey on February 2, 2016 7:01 pm

    The Murphys Irish Stout actor is my brother Gerard Rooney originally from Newry, Co Down, Northern Ireland. This is his real voice. I know it well. He is from the same town as John Lynch and he new him well. They should make a come back.xx

  5. feelingmyage on March 18, 2016 1:55 am

    Ah brilliant Sinead – thanks so much for confirming that. Always thought he was great in those ads :-)

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