Tadhg Fleming has taken the social media world by storm.
The Kerry native is the latest cover star for our Goss.ie Spotlight On feature, and in this interview he opens up about how his life changed overnight thanks to a viral video.
He also discusses online trolling, his upcoming wedding, and addresses those Dancing with the Stars rumours…
Tadhg first started taking videos of his family ten years ago, and in 2017 the Flemings became internet sensations thanks to the viral ‘Catch Him Derry!’ bat video.
Their lives changed drastically overnight, as they were invited on TV shows such as The Late Late Show and The Jimmy Kimmel Show in the US.
A host of famous faces also started resharing the video onto their own social media accounts, including footballer Gary Lineker and singer Dua Lipa.
Tadhg now has a whopping 2.9 million followers on TikTok and a further 707k Instagram followers, and regularly shares funny videos of his dad Derry, mum Maureen, and sisters Sadhbh and Maryanne online.
Last year, Tadhg proposed to his longtime girlfriend Alannah, and the couple are planning on tying the knot next year.
The content creator recently appeared on RTÉ’s Ultimate Hell Week, and he has since teased more exciting TV projects in the coming weeks.
Most recently, Tadhg and his father Derry were linked to the line-up for Dancing with the Stars…
Amid a very exciting time in both his professional and personal life, check out our exclusive chat with Tadhg below:
When did you first start creating content for social media?
I first started I’d say over ten years ago. I’ve always had a passion for creating videos, and just documenting things at home. I moved out to the countryside when I was about 13 and there was nothing to do, so I ended up just videoing things and learning how to edit. I remember I used to use Windows Movie Maker which is very basic now. But I absolutely loved it.
It was always a hobby of mine and I never thought I could make a living out of it or do it as my job. It’s just mental now having such a massive following, but we’ve always just made our own content that’s been the same the whole time. That’s what people love, they’re like, ‘Jesus they remind me of my own family.’
I’ve always had a passion for it. I remember I worked in Lifestyle Sports for a couple of years and I was creating content inside there as well. It was my own thing, I used to do sketches inside there on Vine… I remember saying to HR at the time, ‘Oh can we do videos?’ and they were like, ‘No, just keep it simple.’ But what’s meant for you won’t pass you. I ended up leaving there and doing a course in Digital Media which I loved.
While I was working in Lifestyle, I remember my fiancée Alannah was like, ‘Why don’t you set up a Facebook page for your videos?’ So I did, and I put up a few videos. And I remember a lecturer in DIT came up to me and was like, ‘What are you doing in here? Go off and do something with videography… You have the creativity to be an editor.’ So I took her advice and I went off and did a course, and that was probably the best thing for me.
Do you remember when your first video went viral? What was that experience like?
The first one that went viral wasn’t even supposed to go anywhere! It was on Snapchat so it was supposed to only last 24 hours, and it was the bat video. It just took off and to be honest with you, I couldn’t grasp it. To this day, I don’t know how many views its got because it’s been on so many channels all over the world. But at the time, it was pure chaos.
How it happened was my mom was in the kitchen one evening and she was doing the ironing, and I was just documenting like I did for years, and this was the one that just took off. The reaction was just mental, we were getting photos of people getting tattoos that read, ‘Catch Him Derry!” That was back in a time that things didn’t really take off so much like they do now. There wasn’t really viral videos back then. Now there’s TikTok and stuff.
I was working as a social media manager at the time, and I remember my phone just started hopping. I was getting phone calls – Ray D’Arcy was the first one onto me so I went onto his show and had a chat with him. The next thing I was on BBC talking to a bat expert about how to get rid of a bat from your kitchen. Then we got invited up to The Late Late Show, and then the day after we got on Jimmy Kimmel.
It was mental, and it was a great thing to do with my family. It was pure and utter pandemonium! Even when I got the email about going onto Jimmy Kimmel, I thought it was one of uncles messing with me. I just thought, ‘This can’t be real.’ We were actually on the phone for about five hours to see if the connection was grand because we’re living out in the country and the connection can be awful! It was gas, I had family in America getting onto me saying, ‘What are you doing on my TV here?’
The video just went all over the world. Famous people were retweeting it like Gary Lineker and Dua Lipa. It was just mad. Since then, we’ve been putting stuff up here and there, and our videos are like a virtual invitation into our home.
It’s been a wild ride. We just take it day by day and keep it simple. You can get carried away with these things, but you need to remind yourself, ‘What’s your original content?’
How did your family and fiancée react when your video blew up and you became so well known overnight?
I remember my dad was working in the Credit Union and he didn’t realise that when I was posting these videos, the whole world was watching. There was one woman who came into the credit union and said to him, ‘Jesus Derry, I didn’t recognise you. You look so different with pants on!’ He was absolutely mortified… Now he’s mad for the selfies.
My mom is a hairdresser so she’s well able to talk, she’d talk to anyone. She loves the craic. And the reaction to the video was really good and positive which was great, so she was delighted.
Alannah, my fiancée, she’s very private which I respect. But she was brilliant. She is so supportive, and sure she was the one who told me to go for it and do what I want to do.
And then with my younger sisters, I do feel responsible for them in a way, because they were in school when everything blew up so I was worried about people slagging them about being my sister. But I think they’re well used to it and they’re well able to talk.
How do you deal with online trolling and negative comments online?
Growing up, I had a good friend group and I had eight uncles on my mom’s side, and they were all well able to humble me. So I was always able to cope with a bit of slagging, I’d have quite thick skin. But online is just another level. I used to go back and forth with trolls, but you get nowhere. These people are just hiding behind screens and fake accounts.
You eventually come to the realisation that you can’t please everyone. If you don’t like something you see online, there’s a scroll feature that you can always use to scroll past it.
The hardest thing for me is protecting my family from the trolling. Mom and Dad were getting a bit tech-savvy and they were going into my comment sections. And the thing is, 99% of it is good, but Mom will see one bad comment and be like, ‘Why are they saying that?’
Trolling is a big part of social media now, and it’s sad but it’s just something I’ve had to learn to cope with and deal with. You just have to get on with it and keep doing what you want to do because you can’t let them get you down. There’s always going to be people who don’t like your stuff, and that’s ok. You can’t convince them otherwise.
Some days it does get to you and you have to take a break for your own head. A social media detox is brilliant, and getting some exercise. I always chat to my dad, and Alannah is brilliant as well. A problem shared is a problem halved.
You just have to take the bad comments on the chin and move on. You don’t get bogged down. But it took a while for me to learn that.
People would love to see a show on your family. Is that something you’d ever consider doing?
We’ve got offers about one. But for me, I’ve always been creating the content. My family are so used to me just being there and all of a sudden taking the phone out and they wouldn’t have a clue. I think if you get in a camera crew, it takes away from the authentic fly-on-the-wall kind of stuff.
We have had cameras come in before, and the minute the huge camera comes out people go in on themselves. But with a mobile phone, you have so much access. It’s just so quick, everything I do is edited on the phone.
A lot of people do say, ‘Oh you need your own TV show,’ and we are better craic then the Kardashians alright! But I think it would take away from the authentic feel of the stuff that goes on at home. But we do have some exciting projects coming up…
Speaking of exciting projects, you and your father Derry have both been linked to the Dancing with the Stars line-up. Can you confirm these rumours?
I can tell you now that we haven’t had any contact from them. My dad is absolutely sickened, because he’d love it! He was only saying to me there, ‘Will you check your emails and see if there’s anything from Dancing with the Stars?’ But no, we’ve had no contact from them. There has been speculation alright, but no.
Maybe next year! I don’t know how long his hips will last though, he’s getting old now. He’s nearly 80.
Someone who did express interest in having you on her show was Lucy Kennedy. She previously told us she would love to have you on Living with Lucy…
Yeah I remember that over lockdown! I would love for Lucy to come out. Jesus, she is welcome anytime. She’d have to bring her dancing shoes alright. That would be amazing. Where we live is literally the back arse of nowhere though!
Myself and Alannah live about two minutes away from my family house which is lovely. Everything is a stone’s throw away.
You mentioned that you’re heading onto a show with your dad, can you tell us any more about that?
So we were part of a show, and it will be out around Christmas time. I can’t say much more on it yet, but it’s exciting. But he’ll probably be retiring soon enough, so there’s talks about the two of us going around the place in a caravan. A little travel show with myself and Derry, visiting hidden gems.
There’s a couple of things in the pipeline anyway. I won’t say nothing though because I’ll give it away!
You recently appeared on Ultimate Hell Week. What was that experience like?
It was a great experience but to be honest with you, I was disappointed in myself afterwards for not making it to the end… It was so full-on. I didn’t sleep, I find it hard to sleep anyway, but inside there it was just so physically and mentally challenging. It was definitely one of the best things I’ve ever done, but coming out of there I was rocked. I think about it every day, just what would’ve happened if I said nothing and kept going. It was just too much, but everything happens for a reason.
It was great to be a part of it, and it was great to have been asked to do it. I burst into tears on the way home because I was just so overcome with the ‘What ifs?’ But it was amazing, and I’m disappointed now that it’s not going to be televised again, they were saying it was the last season of it.
I’ve made friends for life from the show too which is lovely. We have our own little group chat and the banter is flying in it.
You definitely showed a different side of yourself on the show. Do you feel pressure to put on a certain persona when you meet people who follow you on social media?
I’m a very outgoing person anyway, but yeah you do find there’s a pressure alright. People think, ‘He needs to be hopping off the walls’, but I wouldn’t be like that everyday. Everyone has their down days. I do love chatting to people, but some days you could be feeling a bit down and people are coming over to you…
On social media, you only see the odd few minutes from our day. But we’re like anyone else, we have our good and bad days. Sometimes it is nice to not go out and have people roaring catchphrases that you said online at you, like ‘Whose horse is that?’ and ‘Catch him Derry!’ I know there’s usually alcohol involved, and it’s grand but sometimes you just want to chill out and enjoy the night with your friends or fiancée.
We do put ourselves out there, so of course we expect people to come up to us, and we are a very outgoing family who will chat away to people. But I remember even this time last year, my grandad passed away, and you’re not going to be okay in times like that because it’s a sad time. People might expect us to be happy go lucky all the time, but sometimes there are other things going on in our life like we might be grieving or sick.
A lot of content creators end up moving to LA to further their career, is this something you’d ever consider or do you want to stay put in Ireland?
I’d stick out like a sore thumb in LA with a big Kerry accent on me! I’d love the weather, that would be great, but no. What we have here is so great. I love the whole family aspect and being home.
I’d rather travel to Galway or around Ireland before I go abroad. I love creating content in Ireland. There’s so many great places here that would be more appealing to me than LA. You can reach all over the world from Kerry through your phone.
You got engaged to your longtime girlfriend Alannah last year – congratulations! Have you locked in a date for the big day yet?
Yes, we’re so excited. We’re getting married in May next year in Killarney. We’re going out ten years now, and we moved in together over lockdown. Lockdown definitely made us stronger, we didn’t kill each other! She’s definitely one of my best friends and she’s also my biggest critic. If I have any videos she doesn’t like, she’ll tell me straight, there’s no s**t.
She’s brilliant. With anything I do, she pushes me forward. She does her own thing, I do mine, and then we rendez-vous on the couch with a takeaway and talk about what happened in each other’s day. We’re really excited to finally get married.
We’re thinking about getting the dogs involved in the big day, for the best man and that! They’re a big part of our lives. We have three dachshunds and a little Jack Russell as well.
We have family coming over from America for the big day too which will be great. We’re really looking forward to it. It’s going to be really special. I’m looking forward to spending the future with her and all the dogs.
Do you often have people sliding into your DMs? Who’s the most famous person in your contacts?
Nobody really slides into the DMs… Last night I actually got a comment saying that your man Vecna from Stranger Things [played by Jamie Campbell Bower] was following me.
Snoop Dogg has shared a video of us, and Hailey Bieber shared the same thing. When I see these things, I’m like ‘That’s cool’, and then it’s onto the next thing! It’s very cool to see all that though.
(Tadhg later checked his DMs and revealed the most famous people in there are Golden Globe winner Taron Egerton and football legend Paul McGrath.)
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in content creating?
You definitely have to have a passion for it. Just keep doing it and keep learning. It’s such a mad world social media, and it’s constantly changing. So if you love creating content, my advice is to put up as much as you want and make sure you’re creating stuff you love. Find your niche. For me, it’s my family. For you, it might be baking, pottery, whatever. People will follow you because they like the stuff that you’re doing. Do what you love is my advice.
Don’t expect to go viral straight away. There’s no golden formula for taking off and going viral. A random 10 second clip can just blow up out of nowhere, you just never know.
What would you like to tick off on your bucket list, both personally and professionally, in the next few years?
I would love if we could dance on the Great Wall of China, myself and my dad.
Obviously the wedding is coming up and we’re making plans for the future to settle down, so I’d love to get back into doing my own videography and photography maybe on a business level. My own kind of business on the side, a more serious side to me.
But I also want to keep going with what we’re doing with social media, take it day by day. And I want to keep spending time with my family and Alannah, and stay happy.