The passing of Brendan Grace is one of those moments that feels like a curtain coming down for a softer, gentler Ireland.
We may have rolled our eyes at watching the Christmas special for the ympteenth time because Auntie Mary wouldnt miss it at Christmas, even if you had watched it each of the previous four years but even then there was something in him that spoke to all of us.
Fr Fintan Stack was magic for another generation and in the early 80’s Grace proved to be something of a leader when it came to brand endorsement.
His Bottler was the front man for a petrol stamps promotion run by Maxol.
Free a Nipper became a catchphrase that nobody could avoid and if your parents hadn’t managed to free a Nipper for you then they just weren’t good parents.
He was just an auld yellow glove puppet but he was viral in an age when it didn’t exist in marketing.
Say Maxol to anyone aged over 40 and they will immediately come back with Free a Nipper.
By the end of the campaign they had 400,000 of them redeemed, a massive number for a single promotion.
If you want to relive your youth there is one in the Little Museum in Dublin and here’s one of the ads that they ran.
Rest in Peace Bottler, you made us laugh and brightened up what it was to live in Ireland.