Celtic Nations Quizzing Championships 2014

The 2014 Celtic Nations Quizzing Championship took place in the West County Hotel in Chapelizod, west Dublin, on the weekend of April 26th and April 27th 2014. It was the second year of the tournament and the first time that Ireland had played host.

The event saw quizzers from Wales and Scotland fly in to join their Irish brethren for a weekend of quizzing. In attendance were such quiz luminaries as Barry Simmons from BBC’s Eggheads, and no less than two Chasers from ITV’s The Chase: Anne “The Governess” Hegerty and Mark “The Beast” Labbett.

The bulk of the weekend was comprised of the “nations cup” team matches between Ireland, Scotland and Wales, with each country fielding A, B and C teams, each consisting of four people. There were also a range of quizzes open to the general public, including an individual quiz, fun team quiz and “Fifteen to One” style quiz.

Although Ireland finished third behind Scotland and Wales, the tournament was notable for Ireland recording their first-ever victory in the team matches.

Read on for a full account of the weekend, including results and photos.

The Battle of Chapelizod: The 2014 Celtic Nations Quiz

In 1014, a large force of Vikings raiders, including many from Orkney and the legendary Brodir from the Isle of Man, landed in Dublin to join up with those already here, led by Sitric Silkenbeard, to take on the army of Brian Boru. Although Boru himself met with death, supposedly at prayer in his tent on Good Friday, the Battle was a resounding success for his army and the native Irish and it succeeded in greatly reducing Viking influence here.

One thousand years to the very week another army of marauding raiders, including Scots under the leadership of Andy “Silkenmoustache” Tucker and Welsh under the steerage of Gareth “Maelstrom” Kingston, landed in Dublin to again take on the massed ranks of the Irish defenders. As well as Silkenmoustache and Maelstrom, the Welsh and Scots brought warriors such as the Governess, the Beast, the Egghead and the Brain with them to the battlefield – The West County Hotel in Chapelizod. As William G oft said, “Let battle commence”.

Celtic Quizzing

While I would love to continue the Battle of Clontarf comparison, the dates were about the only similarities as, far from being warlike, the Second Celtic Nations Quiz was “fought” in most cordial terms. Having enjoyed a wonderful weekend in Edinburgh in April 2013, it was a pleasure for the Irish Quiz Organisation (IQO) to welcome the top quizzers of Scotland and Wales to Dublin and it was great to see most of Ireland’s top quizzers lined up to face them.

The Scots were raging hot favourites to regain the Celtic Nations crown which they won in style on home ground in 2013 and, with such household names (well they are in my household anyway!) as Barry “Egghead” Simmons and “The Governess” Anne Hegerty, they had every right to be confident.

The Welsh also fancied their chances. Their A-team was bolstered by recent Brain of Britain winner Mark Grant and their B-team boasted another “Chaser” in “The Beast” Mark Labbett.

The Irish just wanted to avoid a repeat of 2013’s whitewash! Using their patented ranking system, they had found the best quizzers in Ireland to don the green jersey and do us proud.

Individual Quiz

The individual quiz, very kindly written by a veritable who’s who of World Quizzing and edited by Rob Hannah, kicked the weekend off. This is actually a lie – the weekend kicked off for many of us in the hotel bar on Friday night, where Colm O’Sullivan managed to distract Wales and Scotland’s finest away from their Beamish long enough to ask a few quiz questions. Ireland’s main tactic of the weekend appeared to be to encourage the Welsh and Scots to drink too much and stay up late in the hope that they would be tired. What we found out is, much like gremlins, feeding them Beamish after midnight actually turns them into professional quizzers.

And so, with the individual quiz, they proceeded to beat us!

Mark Grant top-scored with an outstanding 83/100 – a superb score and a massive nine clear of the field. The next five spots were occupied by Scots, Barry on 74, Andrew Frazer and Anne on 71, Andy “Silkenmoustache” on 70 and Iain Thoms on 69.

It wasn’t until 7th and 8th place that you stumbled across the first green jerseys, Kevin Jones top scoring for Ireland on 69, with Dave McBryan scoring 68.

Using the complicated scoring system (don’t ask!), this left Scotland on 267, Wales on 176 and Ireland close behind on 160. The Irish were starting to dream and could scent blood (or at least a nice carvery lunch anyway).

Fun Team Quiz

The Team Quiz came after lunch as a bit of light relief between the International matches – it was like a Rabo Pro-12 weekend in the middle of the Six Nations. With questions ranging from the sublime (“conscious uncoupling”) to the ridiculous (“columns in an excel spreadsheet”) a team lead by Anne Hegerty and including Daniel O’Malley and Stuart Redmond led most of the way but were caught by a strongly finishing David Lea led side, including Mark Rae and Christine Mooney. A win for a 66% Irish team!

15 to 1 competition winner David Lea receiving his prize from John Groarke of the IQO

15 to 1 (or more like 43 to 1)

Then came the marathon session that was 15 to 1. With quizmasters Derek “G” Cray and John “Sandi” Groarke, we tried to whittle 40-plus quizzers down to just 16 initially and then a final three. It was the Iron Man of 15 to 1’s, taking what seemed like days to finish as the collective brains just couldn’t miss! Still, eventually, miss they did and we were left with a Grand Final of Mark Grant, The Beast and that man David Lea again.

Under the improvised buzzer system (first one to shout your name out), The Beast got in early but missed a couple and was under pressure. He and Grant traded blows, Lea weighed in, Grant parried, The Beast fell, Grant relaxed, Lea didn’t and landed the finishing blow. Victory for David Lea again (to be honest I’m not really sure if any of that happened I was so exhausted from asking questions, but David did win!).

In true 15 to 1 tradition, David picked up a 5th-century, bog-oak cross as used by St Patrick to convert the Offalymen. He generously donated it to the National Museum.

The Nations Cup

Members of the Wales A team prepare to do battle in a Nations Cup match.
(L-R) Mark Labbett, Gareth Kingston, Mark Grant, Richard Parnell

Back to the serious competition and with Scotland holding a firm lead from the Individual Quiz and opening their account in the Team Quizzes with a clean sweep of A, B and C over the Welsh, the pressure was on Ireland to try to live with the Scots. In short, we didn’t. Despite a gutsy performance from our A-team, the Scots triumphed easily, hammering our B’s and C’s.

Ireland v Wales had all the hallmarks of a relegation 6-pointer. An incredibly tight A-team match went to the final round of questions and the Welsh sneaked it 51-48. Wales C handed a quiz lesson to Ireland C but, history was made as the Ireland B-team, consisting of Padraic Fanning, Mark Henry, Dan O’Malley and Gary Stephens secured Ireland’s first ever Celtic Nations match win, a comprehensive 51-38 win over their Welsh counterparts. Following an open-top bus tour down O’Connell Street, a reception at the Áras and freedom of the city for the four lads, we wound down Saturday with the scores:  Scotland 447, Wales 253, and Ireland 209.

Sunday kicked off with Ireland praying for miracles but receiving not even loaves and fishes from the Scots. Scotland A beat Ireland A and Scotland C beat Ireland C, so heavily, that you wondered about the humanity of the event. Then Ireland B produced another heroic performance, beating their Scottish opponents and restoring more pride for the home side.

Ireland B maintained that form in their match with the Welsh and completed a hat-trick of wins but Wales A and C were much too strong for their Irish opposition and scored easy wins.

By the time the final round of matches came, everyone knew that Scotland had it wrapped up but there was a lot of pride to play for, especially for Wales A and B and boy did they play for it. Wales A inflicted Scotland A’s only defeat of the tournament and Wales B saw how Ireland B had done it and put Scotland B to the sword. Scotland C’s win meant the Scots avoided a slightly embarrassing whitewash.

Nothing embarrassing for the Scots in the overall final standings though as they regained their title in style:

  • Scotland: 539
  • Wales: 401
  • Ireland: 273


So congratulations to the Scots, Celtic Nations Quiz Champions, they have once again set the bar for the rest of us but we’ll keep trying to reach them. A huge thanks from the IQO to the Scots and Welsh for making the trip over, we really do hope you enjoyed yourselves and we greatly enjoyed hosting the event and having you here. Thanks also to the Irish teams and well done to our B-team!

A big thanks to the West County Hotel for all of their help over the three days, for the delicious food and the too-tasty pints. Thanks also to those who helped with the organising and running and all who attended.

Finally, a word in relation to IQO Chairperson, John Nolan, who unfortunately couldn’t make it. John was sadly missed by all there and was certainly in our thoughts and, no doubt, we will see him quizzing again very soon.

Go raibh mile maith agaibh,
The IQO.

Team Lineups

Several members of the Irish Celtic Nations 2014 team.
(L-R) Colm O’Sullivan, John Groarke, Derek Cray, John O’Sullivan, David Lea, Lorcan Duff, Dan O’Malley, Dave McBryan, Padraic Fanning


Lorcan Duff, David Lea, Dave McBryan, Kevin Jones, Mark Henry, Padraic Fanning, Gary Stephens, Dan O’Malley, Derek Cray, John Groarke, Colm O’Sullivan, John O’Sullivan, Eamon McEntee, Paul Hughes & Stuart Redmond.

Also present on the day and taking part were: Karen Crofton, Audrey Maguire, Margaret Brooks, Michael Lyons, Christine Mooney, Una Cray & Shane Butler.


Mark Grant, Richard Parnell, Mark Labbett, Phil Bennion, Ian Orriss, Iwan Thomas, Gareth Kingston, Sean O’Neill, Gary Dermody, Mo Dermody & Mickie O’Neill.


Barry Simmons, Andrew Frazer, Anne Hegerty, Andy Tucker, Iain Thoms, Neil Macaskill, Roderick Cromar, Mark Kerr, Brian Pendreigh, Fraser McNicol, Mark Rae, Grant Catto, Lindsay Mucka, Galen Chung & Ewan McNaught.

Match Results

Saturday 26th April

Ireland A4955Scotland A
Ireland B2951Scotland B
Ireland C2440Scotland C
Wales A5148Ireland A
Wales B3851Ireland B
Wales C5523Ireland C
Scotland A5649Wales A
Scotland B4437Wales B
Scotland C4028Wales C

Sunday 27th April

Ireland A3066Scotland A
Ireland B4847Scotland B
Ireland C1644Scotland C
Wales A5753 Ireland A
Wales B4447 Ireland B
Wales C4023 Ireland C
Scotland A4254 Wales A
Scotland B3746 Wales B
Scotland C3926 Wales C

Individual Quiz top 10

  1. Mark Grant (Wales) 83
  2. Barry Simmons (Scotland) 74
  3. Andrew Frazer (Scotland) 71
  4. Anne Hegerty (Scotland) 71
  5. Andy Tucker (Scotland) 70
  6. Iain Thoms (Scotland) 69
  7. Kevin Jones (Ireland) 69
  8. Dave McBryan (Ireland) 68
  9. Richard Parnell (Wales) 68
  10. Lorcan Duff (Ireland) 65

Overall result

The overall standings were as follows:

  • 1st place – Scotland 539
  • 2nd place – Wales 401
  • 3rd place – Ireland 273

For a more detailed breakdown of the weekend’s results, you can download the following spreadsheet:


The IQO Facebook page has a dedicated photo gallery containing many more photos from the weekend, giving you a chance to put a face to the names above.

Questions from the weekend