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Wednesday 3 September 2014

Celebrity Diary: Lord Henry Mountcharles

I'm in America just now, with no idea if I'll be able to make it home this weekend.

I've got to make it to Boston for my connecting flight but there have been terrible snow storms hitting the east coast, so fingers crossed it takes off.

I love coming over to America, it's like a second home to me at this stage, especially because so many significant American artists have performed at Slane.

I'm a graduate of Harvard University and I've got lots of American friends, so it's a place I'm very comfortable with.

We've been flying around all over the place promoting Slane Castle Whiskey, so I was in Atlanta, Georgia, on Tuesday and Wednesday, going to various functions, and then flew to Palm Beach last night for an event.

I've been over this side of the country while my son Alex has spent the past week in Boston promoting the brand.

Last weekend I thought was going to be particularly tough as I was addressing a sales conference in Miami just days before the Super Bowl.

Dream

Everyone came in wearing jeans and their team T-shirts and I thought to myself, 'Uh-oh, what am I going do do here'. So I put on my Slane Castle Whiskey shirt and told them I couldn't claim to support any one particular team.

But I recounted how the earliest recorded GAA match in history was actually played in Slane Castle, and that definitely got their attention.

Slane Castle Irish Whiskey has always been a dream of mine, so we've been busy burning a bit of a trail over here. It's distilled by Cooley and has been given a four-star rating.

Alex used to work for Irish distillers in Australia, so it's a joint venture between us which we launched back in September. I've got the firm support of my wife Iona who used to work for Moet and Chandon Champagne.

These days, whiskey is my only tipple because I have developed type 1 diabetes, so I can't really drink anything else as it doesn't agree with me. The trip has been going great and we've been getting a super reception over the past few days.

On the home front, I recently learned that I'm due to receive the Industry Award at this year's Meteors, which I'm naturally over the moon about. It's a huge honour.

It's hard to believe that we started Slane nearly 30 years ago with Thin Lizzy and the late, great Phil Lynott, followed by an up-and-coming band called U2.

I've worked with great people such as Denis Desmond, Eamon McCann and the late Jim Aiken, who were all involved with the very first show and of course, we've had some incredible artists at the venue. At the moment, I'm putting a concert together with Denis for this August. It will be an international artist, but I have a reputation for being very secretive.

Unless I'm convinced that the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed, I'm not saying anything, and that's been my policy for 30 years.

There have been plenty of ups and downs throughout the years.

I have taken a serious review of the situation since last year's Oasis gig and I am very much focused on improving things. A lot of thought has gone into avoiding problems that have arisen.

Smoothly

I have made some adjustments to the site itself to make sure things run more smoothly and I have publicly acknowledged there was a systems failure in relation to the Dublin entrance. Steps have been taken to make sure certain things don't happen again, as it was not something I felt at all comfortable with, especially when it hit the airwaves on Joe Duffy's show.

Things did go wrong and they affected a lot of people, but I'm in the business of making things right. The Slane shows are important for Co Meath, lots of people come in for the shows and make an economic contribution locally.

That's why I want to put on this show in August, because in these times people are in need of a lift. You have to keep on trucking and that's spiritually important as well as everything else.

I consider myself very lucky to do something commercially successful that I also really enjoy. If it wasn't for the buzz I get out of it, I wouldn't have been able to persevere.

Henry Mountcharles will receive the Industry Award at the Meteor Ireland Music Awards on February 19

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