NIALL O’MEAR A ON TIPP’S BIG WINNING YEAR + FULL NEW GAA SEASON PREVIEW
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M Y FAV O U R I T E TR A I N JOU R N EY
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MORE THAN RACING, MORE THAN A FESTIVAL
SAT IRISH CHAMPION HURDLE LIVE MUSIC DUBLIN FOOD LIVE RUGBY
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STREET PERFORMERS CHEF DEMOâ€™S
2020 VOLU M E 0 9 ISSU E 04
T H E S C R I P T PAG E 2 4
06 / Go For It A look at some of the biggest events happening up and down the country. 16 / Train News All the latest happenings in the world of the Irish Rail Network. 22 / Lesley Manville The acclaimed actress discusses her powerful new film Ordinary Love, in which she stars opposite Liam Neeson. 24 / The Script Danny O'Donoghue tells why the Irish rockers' new album finds them re-embracing stadi-
about his glittering career and his superb new ELO record.
um-filling anthems. 30 / Niall O'Meara We chat to the Tipp hurling star about winning last year's All Ireland, and also take a look ahead to the new GAA season.
42 /Emma Donoghue The celebrated author discusses her new novel, Akin, a gripping exploration of a family's secret history.
34 / My Favourite Train Journey Pat Shortt on why he enjoys taking the Dublin-to-Thurles route.
44 / Bruce Springsteen Stuart Clark joins the iconic rocker in London for a special screening of his stunning new film, Western Stars.
36 / Celebrity Table Lucy O'Toole enjoys a lunchtime chat with presenter and podcast host Laura Whitmore.
48 / Go Travel A look at why San Diego is one of the true gems of the US west coast.
40 / Jeff Lynne The legendary musician talks 3
50 / Fashion Roe McDermott on the top Irish designers to check out in the New Year. 55 /Reviews We select the must-watch new movies on Netflix, as well as dipping into the latest book and album releases.
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THE FUTURE OF THE PL ANET IS AT STAKE Here, amid the darkness of winter, we are already thinking of spring. Meanwhile in Australia, the bush-fires are raging...
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e are in the middle of winter. Days go from crisp and cold to wild and wet in a jiffy. When rain threatens, the darkness seems deeper than usual. Or is that just an illusion? We are all inclined to hark back to some imagined time when things were better. In reality that is seldom true. Certainly in Ireland, the seasonal darkness notwithstanding, there is a lightness in the air that feels almost unique. No matter where we turn right now, the old phrase springs to mind: the world is in a state of chassis. Sitting on a train that crosses the country, or runs down along the beautiful east coast of Ireland, and looking out the window at the landscape passing by, all of that seems a million miles away. Nowhere is perfect. Certainly Ireland is not. But in relative terms, at the moment it feels like we are in a good place. That doesn’t mean that we are free of the responsibility to do better. The winter darkness here contrasts with the scenes being beamed to us from Australia, where it is mid-Summer now. There, fearsome bush fires have been raging for weeks, scalding to the ground hundreds of thousands of plants and trees. The scale of the devastation is so immense that it defies understanding. Australia is a huge place, a continent unto itself, that is sparsely populated, except for the main cities dotted hundreds or even thousands of miles apart around the coast. There are always bush fires there. But the 2019 conflagrations are already the worst since 1974 – and may well exceed the enormous damage caused 45 years ago by the end of the year. Not only this: experts agree that the conditions for the fires today are far more threatening than they were in the past. The 1974 fires raged through mainly uninhabited areas. The emergency response was slower and less sophisticated. Had those same fires occurred this year, they’d have inflicted less damage. Perversely, the 1974 fires were caused by relatively high rainfall, which produced an abundance of flammable, non-
woody herbaceous plants. In contrast, this year’s have been caused by drought conditions, which have made dry ‘fuel’ available. Rainfall has been at a historic low. The fires are unprecedented in New South Wales, where they have been occurring. Vital heritage wildernesses have been razed. Places that have not burned for over 1,000 years have been engulfed. Air quality in towns and cities has suffered. More people have been forced to seek emergency treatment for respiratory problems. The peril in 2019 is more immediate, more imminent. Underlying all of this is a very large elephant in the room. Scientists and fire-fighters agree that climate change has made bush fires more likely (and not just in Australia); and also that the fires, when they do erupt, will be more severe and harder to control. The television images we see on the nightly news here show people on Aussie beaches sweltering in record temperatures of an average of 41°C. This may not be armageddon itself, but it feels like a foreshadowing of potentially worse times ahead. This, then, is a story that is not going to go away. That we need to address the climate crisis globally is self-evident, except to the most entrenched climate change deniers. But as part of that drive to counter the ongoing rise in temperatures, every individual country will have to play its part, including Ireland. And in a relatively wealthy and stable country like ours, we should be able to achieve consensus in relation to it – and ultimately to do more, and quicker. Travelling by train, you are already playing your part: it is by far the most environmentally friendly way to make any sort of medium to long journey. But there is so much more that we have to do. The time to start is now. When spring begins to show those wonderful first signs of new life to us, it would be good to be able to say: we have started on what may well be the most important journey we will ever undertake. The future of the planet is at stake. MÁIRIN SHEEHY
GO FOR IT
A R U N D O W N O F W H AT ' S H O T & H A P P E N I N G BY P E T E R M c N A L LY PHOTO: DANI FRO
GAVIN IT LARGE GAVIN JAMES LIVE How does an artist better three sold out shows at the Olympia Theatre? For Dublin singersongwriter Gavin James – who achieved that feat last April – the only option was to book the biggest venue in town. Since releasing his platinum-
certified debut album, Bitter Pill, four years ago, James has sold out seven Irish dates and reached over one billion online streams. His latest release, Only Ticket Home, dropped in October 2018 and climbed to the number two spot on the Irish charts. After ringing in
2019 with a live concert and TV broadcast from Dublin’s Custom House Quay, Gavin embarked on a world tour. Early 2020 finds him again hitting the road for a European excursion, culminating in this hotly anticipated 3Arena date.
NEED TO KNOW WHEN: FEB 29 WHERE: 3ARENA , DUBLIN
F O R B E S T VA L U E FA R E S O N A L L I N T E R C I T Y S E RV I C E S C H E C K O U T I R I S H R A I L . I E 6
RACE FOR THE PRIZE Leopardstown Racecourse, Dublin, February 1 & 2 Now entering its 3rd year, the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown Racecourse has proven to be a fantastic showcase for National Hunt heroes. With eight Grade 1 Races and ¤2.1 million in prize money, the festival will feature the best of Dublin culture, music, food and jumps racing over two days that will simply take your breath away. Off the track, music lovers can checkin to DJ sets provided by guest DJs between racing and enjoy live music on both days in the Big Tent Festival Marquee after racing each day. Topping it all off is the added bonus of an exciting Six Nations Ireland vs Scotland rugby clash in Dublin after racing on Saturday, which will be shown live on all the big screens at Leopardstown. This is a weekend not to be missed!
EVE, THE APPLE OF OUR EYE NYF DUBLIN Various Venues, Dublin, December 31 & January 1 Returning for its eighth year, this New Year’s spectacular is back with another fantastic line-up. Walking On Cars’ headline slot comes at the end of a landmark year for the Dingle band, which saw the release of their acclaimed album Colours, and stand-out concerts at Irish Independent Park and the 3Arena. They play alongside Northern Irish pop-rock legends Ash. This year, NYF Dublin boasts two action-packed days of New Year celebrations, including the Liffey Lights Midnight Moment Matinee, the Countdown Concert and the Liffey Lights Midnight Moment – all taking places at the iconic Custom House on New Year’s Eve. On January 1, the celebrations are set to continue with a New Year’s Day Concert in Temple Bar.
Open from May 26TH to August 23RD
WOWIE, BOWIE DAVID BOWIE FESTIVAL Various Venues, Dublin, January 8–12 The fifth outing of this celebration of all things Ziggy will also commemorate the 50th anniversary of the icon’s seminal album, The Man Who Sold The World. The festival will be headlined by Holy Holy, a supergroup consisting of Bowie’s treasured and trusted producer Tony Visconti, Spider From Mars drummer Woody Woodmansey and Heaven 17 main-man Glenn Gregory on lead vocals. Other highlights include The Birth of Bowie in The Sugar Club on Friday, January 10, which sees a Q&A with Phil Lancaster (Bowie’s drummer with 60s mod group The Lower Third); and a live set from The London Boys, who play material exclusively from Bowies ‘60s period. Lancaster’s recent book At The Birth Of Bowie will be profiled on the night by guest host, Hot Press’ Pat Carty.
SHORTT AND TO THE POINT PAT SHORTT Hey! delivers a peculiar take on modern life that only the unique imagination of Pat Shortt could conjure up. The show is an hilarious and quirky look at Ireland, brought to you by one of the country’s best loved comedians. It boasts a rogue’s gallery of odd-ball characters, bizarre situations and, as one would expect from the man behind ‘Jumbo Breakfast Roll’, there is even a brand new song or two! After three sold-out nights at the Olympia Theatre at the beginning of this year, 2020 marks the last time that Pat Shortt will perform Hey!, meaning that it’s your final opportunity to catch the show.
S W I N E A N D DA N DY FOIL ARMS & HOG Vicar Street, Dublin, January 9–17 (& IRISH TOUR) Ireland’s top sketch trio are back on tour with their new show Swines. With over 100 million hits, the group are best known for their online sketches, but it’s the live show where they really shine. The trio achieved critical acclaim this year with the best reviewed show at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, and are now hitting the road around the Island of Ireland in an over-packed car. The new show promises an hour of scripted nonsense, twisted characters, music and uproarious improvisation.
NEED TO KNOW WHEN: JAN 3–FEB 28 W H E R E : VA R I O U S V E N U E S
I T EMMA LANGFORD
PA D DY C A S E Y
FIDDLE ME THIS TRADFEST Various Venues, Temple Bar, January 22–26 From modest beginnings, this celebration of all things trad has gone from strength to strength. The past decade has seen the festival grow in terms of size, ambition and musical breadth, with a line-up that now appeals to the purist and the casual punter alike. This year, TradFest will usher in the light and energy of spring with performances by Irish heroes Paddy Casey, Maria Doyle Kennedy and The Hothouse Flowers; and up-andcoming stars of the future Lisa Lambe, Emma Langford and Susan O’Neill (SON). One of the most exciting headliners of 2020 are sure to be Afro Celt Sound System, the homegrown outfit celebrated for their energetic, uplifting shows.
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WILD, WILD WEST THE LIEUTENANT OF INISHMORE With a cast that includes Young Offenders star Alex Murphy, Darklands’ Aisling Kearns and Sing Street’s Don Wycherly – amongst an array of other famous faces from stage and screen – Martin McDonagh’s Tony-nominated play is sure to draw crowds out of their post-Christmas hibernation. Set in the 1990s, The Lieutenant of Inishmore is a clever satire on the beautification of violence in contemporary culture, and a hilarious farce in true McDonagh fashion. With a mad lieutenant at the centre of the mayhem, The Lieutenant Of Inishmore is not for the faint of heart!
NEED TO KNOW W H E N : J A N 2 7 – M A R 14 W H E R E : G A I E T Y T H E AT R E , DUBLIN
A L E X M c D O N AG H
S TA C E Y D O O L E Y
B R O T H E R S B E YO N D
T O H O O F I T M AY C O N C E R N
JONAS BROTHERS 3Arena, Dublin, January 31 Since 2005, the former Disney channel boys have been setting hearts racing with their iconic pop hits. From ‘S.O.S.’ to ‘Burnin’ Up’, they’ve bewitched a generation. After calling it a day in 2013, the brothers had been enjoying success in their separate endeavours, with Nick starring in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle and topping charts as a solo artist; and Joe leading DNCE to pop pre-eminence. Now that they’re back and better than ever, the Grammy nominated, multi-platinum Jonas Brothers are gearing up for their first European headline tour in almost 10 years. The tour is in support of their platinum-selling album, Happiness Begins, which was released in the summer of 2019.
STRICTLY COME DANCING: THE LIVE TOUR 3Arena, Dublin, January 28 Hosted by 2018 winner Stacey Dooley, this high-kicking spectacular will feature a selection of celebrities and professional dancers from this year’s series of Strictly Come Dancing. Audiences can expect an evening of entertainment filled with colour, excitement and humour. Showcasing all the amazing choreography and live music that Strictly is known for, there will be a host of breathtaking dance routines guaranteed to leave you reeling and roaring for more. Recreating the glitz, glamour and magic seen on the TV, this show is undoubtedly a must-see spectacle for fans and families.
I T JOHNNY SEXTON
S T R I C T LY S C R U M DAN CIN G IRELAND V SCOTLAND GUINNESS SIX NATIONS 2020 This opening Six Nations clash against our Celtic cousins also marks the first competitive outing for the national side’s new coaching staff. Keen to put the disappointments of the World Cup in the rearview, and to make a name for himself in the wake of the great Joe Schmidt, Andy Farrell and Co. will be expecting a strong performance from the boys in green. Farrell has earned plaudits as Ireland’s defensive coach since joining the team for the South African summer tour FEATURE SNOW PATROL in 2016, but this clash against the Scots will mark his first match at the helm and he can expect to have the eyes of the nation on him.
NEED TO KNOW WHEN: FEB 1 W H E R E : AV I VA S TA D I U M , D U B L I N
Following eight years of conflict in Syria, World Vision’s humanitarian programmes have helped more than 2.5 million people in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Serbia and within Syria itself. Actor Liam Cunningham, who is ambassador for World Vision, recently reflected on the 8-year anniversary of the Syrian War, and the important work his charity does. In 2018 alone, World Visions reached 1.2 million people, 695,000 of them children, through World Vision programmes in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Game of Thrones actor Liam Cunningham, Ambassador for World Vision Ireland, joined a panel of international experts, commentators and activists recently to speak at The Good Summit in Trinity College Dublin. The event aimed to put the spotlight on some of the biggest issues facing the world through candid debate and thoughtprovoking discussion. Liam Cunningham spoke about his well-documented work as a World Vision ambassador, and the organisation’s charitable work with Syrian refugees which he witnessed on his trips to Jordan, to the Azraq and Za’atari
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refugee camps. He also reflected on his trip to South Sudan last year, where he visited a ‘Child Friendly Space’. Liam spoke passionately about the plight of children and their families forced to flee their homes due to civil war and conflict; and the human stories and stark reality facing children and their families. He also highlighted the positive impacts brought about by World Vision Ireland with a range of humanitarian programmes including education and protection, water and sanitation, health and housing - all of which are delivering hope to these regions.
If you would like to support World Vision Ireland’s work, you can text RESPOND to 50300 to donate €4 to World Vision Ireland. Texts cost €4. World Vision Ireland will receive a minimum of €3.60 per text. Service Provider: Like Charity. Helpline: 0766805278.
BILLIONAIRE BOY CLUB Olympia Theatre, Dublin, February 5–9 Bestselling children’s author and Little Britain legend David Walliams (pictured above), has once again teamed up with the award-winning West End producers of Gangsta Granny and Horrible Histories for an amazing new production of his best-selling story, Billionaire Boy. Released in 2010, the story follows Joe Spud, who is the richest boy in the country and has everything he could ever want, other than a friend. The book was adapted for television by the BBC in 2016, and this musical musical production comes from the award-winning Birmingham Stage Company, with music by Miranda Cooper and Nick Coler.
OLYMPIA PANTO: CINDERELLA Olympia Theatre, Dublin, December 20–28 A Christmas tradition like no other, the Olympia Panto offers another unmissable production this holiday season. Directed by acclaimed Irish actor Simon Delaney and featuring an all-star cast of famous faces from the nation’s favourite television shows, Fair City and Dancing With The Stars, 2019’s outing is Cinderella: The Story Of Cinders & Her Fella. The title role will be played by Riverdance star Zoe Talbot, while her Prince Charming comes in the shape of Dublin comedian, Al Foran. The cast is rounded out by Fair City’s Ryan Andrews and Maclean Burke, Xposé star Nadine Reid and West End star Rob Vickers.
The perfect Christmas gift for GAA fans – one that will be treasured for years to come
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THE LAST GOODBYE CLANNAD Cork Opera House, Cork, March 2 Another one of the greats is saying goodbye. Legendary Donegal folk band Clannad are celebrating an exceptional 50-year career with a farewell world tour which includes some eagerly anticipated Irish shows. The Grammy and BAFTA award-winning quartet have sold 15 million records worldwide and have eight Top 10 UK. albums to their name. Additionally, Clannad have plans to release In a Lifetime, a multi-format, career-spanning anthology. Grab tickets and make sure you properly say goodbye to the group whoâ€™ve done so much for Irish culture!
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O U R FAVO U R I T E M A R T I N
HARRY STYLES 3Arena, Dublin, April 19 After keeping it on the down low for the past one and a half years, Harry Styles finally returned to the spotlight last month with his new single ‘Lights Up’. The song showed the ex-One Direction singer moving in a different direction than on his previous releases and its accompanying video, shot in Mexico, sees Styles shirtless, getting fawned over by males and females, driving on a moped and getting soaked in water. So yeah, pretty steamy. His accompanying sophomore album, Fine Line, followed on December 13. Styles’ 2020 world tour, ‘Love On Tour, will feature support from rising pop star King Princess in Europe, singer/songwriter Jenny Lewis in US & Canada, and Jamaican reggae singer Koffee in Mexico.
STEVE MARTIN & MARTIN SHORT 3Arena, Dublin, March 11 Comedy legends of stage and screen for nearly 50 years, Martin and Short have been enjoying their later years by taking to the road together. Their 2018 Netflix special An Evening You Will Forget For The Rest Of Your Life was a huge hit, earning rave reviews and four Emmy nominations. As with that tour, the dynamic duo will be joined by bluegrass band The Steep Canyon, who are frequent collaborators of Steve Martin (himself an accomplished banjo player). The jokes come at you at a rapidfire pace with little set-up and big punch lines as they mock Hollywood and the fickle nature of celebrity, but the comedy truly soars when they lovingly (and relentlessly) roast each other.
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FORTY-ONE NEW CARRIAGES ORDERED FOR RAIL CUSTOMERS he Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross T.D., has announced Government approval for the proposed purchase of 41 additional rail carriages to increase capacity across the Greater Dublin Area rail network. Government approval to purchase the additional rail cars, at a cost of €150m, will see the carriages arrive from late 2021, providing 34% increased Dublin Commuter capacity at peak times. Minister Ross stated: “This project is hugely significant and will deliver real benefits to rail commuters in the Greater Dublin Area. In terms of rail, this Government is making major investments, including the National Train Control Centre, the improved programme of network maintenance and renewal and of course the DART Expansion Programme. We want more and more people to make the switch to sustainable mobility, and to do that we need projects like this to expand the network and make it more attractive to use.” The proposed expansion of the GDA commuter rail fleet will increase capacity by approximately 34% in the AM peak time across the Kildare Line, Maynooth Line and Northern Line. The additional carriages will be used with the existing InterCity Railcar (ICR) fleet, resulting in longer train sets which can be used across the GDA commuter network, as well as providing additional services on the Maynooth and Northern Lines. The project will be delivered by Iarnród Éireann and overseen by the National Transport Authority, with funding provided as part of Project Ireland 2040. Additionally, Iarnród Éireann, supported by the NTA, commenced the tender process to order the largest and greenest fleet in Irish public transport history in May 2019 for up to 600 electric / battery-electric powered carriages over a
10-year timescale. This contract is expected to be awarded in 2020, with the first carriages under the framework entering service in 2024. The framework will allow Iarnród Éireann to order in batches as we require them during the 10-year term. This fleet is part of the €2 billion DART Expansion programme, which will double capacity in the Greater Dublin Area, and free up Intercity carriages currently used on Commuter routes for Intercity capacity. Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority, said: “The decision by the Government to give the green light to the purchase of 41 intercity railcars is to be welcomed. Public transport in Ireland is a success story, with the numbers of Iarnród Éireann passengers increasing every year since 2013. However, this has led to capacity becoming a real issue, particularly on commuter services. While it will take two years before any of these carriages enter service, customers will be reassured by the very fact that they are on the way.” Jim Meade, Chief Executive of Iarnród Éireann said: “At a time when more and more commuters are switching to rail, this order of 41 additional carriages will bring a welcome boost in capacity for some of our busiest commuter routes. We are set to break the 50 million passenger journey barrier for the first time ever in 2019, and I welcome the commitment from Government, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and his Department, and the National Transport Authority to enable Iarnród Éireann to play the fullest role possible in meeting the transport needs of the communities we serve. In addition, we continue to progress a major tender for the largest and greenest fleet in Irish public transport history, to allow us order up to 600 carriages over a ten-year period, under Project Ireland 2040.”
INTRODUCING JAM CARDS
DART EXPANSION WHAT IT MEANS FOR YOU ith record numbers travelling by rail, there are major plans under way to increase the capacity of our rail network. At the heart of these plans is DART Expansion: a transformative railway package to modernise and improve the existing rail network. It will provide a sustainable, electrified, faster, reliable and userfriendly rail system. It will create a full metropolitan area DART network for Dublin, with all of the lines linked and connected. This will transform the rail system in the Greater Dublin Area, delivering new DART services between the City Centre – Drogheda, Maynooth – M3 Parkway and Hazelhatch – Celbridge. Iarnród Éireann's ambition is to increase train frequency from the current 10-minute frequency to a five-minute allday frequency, and to lengthen all trains to eight carriages. It will also increase Intercity capacity by freeing up trains for use on national services. The cumulative network effect of DART Expansion, subject to Government authorisation and funding, will increase customer capacity from circa 26,000 customers per hour per direction to circa 52,000 passengers per hour per direction by 2027. DART Expansion is a key element of the National Transport Authority’s Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2016 to 2035 and a corner stone of Project Ireland 2040. As part of an integrated transport system, DART Expansion will provide options to citizens and encourage a move away from private cars to public transport. DART Expansion delivers on each of the three pillars of sustainable development: • Economy: Permits good linkage between high density land-use development and public transport corridors, permitting access for people to housing, jobs and services. DART
Expansion is estimated to generate €4.8 billion of user benefits from reductions in journey time, greater transport efficiency and increased economic development. • Society: DART Expansion is consistent with government strategy and regional planning objectives. It will improve the quality of life for people and allows long-term forecast lifestyle choices by providing a long-term integrated public transport system. Efficient public transport will also positively contribute to the national objective of transitioning away from fossil fuels. • Environment: Higher use of public transport, especially during AM & PM peak hours, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, alleviate road congestion and free up city centre space currently used for all-day car parking. Iarnród Éireann is now progressing with the preliminary design for DART Expansion. An Environmental Impact Assessment will be conducted and environmental information will be integrated into the design process. The culmination of the preliminary design and the environmental impact assessment studies will be the submission of a Railway Order Application to An Bord Pleanála for the railway works along each line. A Railway Order Application is a planning application for railway development works and must be accompanied by plans and particulars for the works and an Environmental Impact Assessment Report. Iarnród Éireann will conduct consultations with Statutory Bodies, interest groups and the general public to gather comments and suggestions for consideration in development of an optimised design. The submission of Railway Order Applications will be advertised in the press and all information will be available for review. It’s the beginning of an exciting journey which will deliver for customers right around Ireland’s rail network.
JAM (Just a Minute) Card allows people with a communication barrier tell others they need ‘Just A Minute’ discreetly and easily. The JAM Card was created by NOW Group, a social enterprise that supports people with learning difficulties and autism into jobs with a future, and their service users told them that they would like a way to relay to people that they need a little extra time or patience. Find out more about NOW Group at nowgroup.org and JAM Card at jamcard.org. For those with a learning difficulty, autism, Asperger’s or any condition where there can be a communication barrier, the JAM Card allows users to relay to others that they may need a little extra time in a simple, effective, non-verbal manner. The JAM Card is useful when on public transport, in a retail or any other customer-facing environment. There are 3 message options to choose from: 1. 'Please be patient, I have autism or Asperger’s' 2. 'Please be patient, I have a learning disability or difficulty' 3. 'Please be patient, I have a condition' Where can I get one? You can pick up an JAM Card at one of the following stations; Connolly Station, Dublin Pearse Station, Dublin Heuston Station, Dublin Kent Station, Cork Ceannt Station, Galway Colbert Station, Limerick Plunkett Station, Waterford MacDiarmada Station, Sligo You can also request one directly from NOW Group by visiting the JAM Card website and filling out the request form. If you prefer not to use a physical card, there is a JAM Card app available for Android and iOS. The app allows you to choose your message option, leave reviews and find other JAM friendly businesses.
FIGHTING HOMELESSNESS AT CHRISTMAS This Christmas season, we are very proud to be working once again with Focus Ireland in its bid to help fight homelessness. And when you book online at irishrail.ie you can help too by choosing to donate ¤4 to Focus Ireland’s work to help more people make it #HomeForChristmas you head home on the train from a regular day at work or perhaps doing a bit of Christmas shopping in town, you are making a journey you have made many times. The journey home. All of us can sometimes take our own home for granted. Not everyone has this security. Sadly, a record total of 10,397 people are homeless nationwide right now. This is an increase of 7% since last year. Shockingly, nearly 4,000 are children. Iarnród Eireann are proud to be raising vital funds for Focus Ireland to help in the delivery of the charity’s frontline services, while helping to raise awareness about homelessness in Ireland. This support is vital in providing assistance to the work to prevent homelessness, and to immediate and longterm supports for people who are currently homeless. The charity’s Life President Sister Stan said: “We need donations now more than
ever to raise funds so our services can cope with the constantly rising demand and to make sure we can be there when people need our help the most. I am asking rail users to please give what they can afford to support our urgent Christmas appeal.” Sr. Stan also spoke passionately of the terrible impact being homeless has on children as she said: “Being homeless causes terrible trauma to any family or individual, but it is hurting children the most. We are seeing this through our own work supporting these families. Babies are living in tiny hotel rooms where they don’t even have enough room to learn how to crawl properly. It really breaks my heart to know that some of these children have been born into homelessness. Some of them will spend their first Christmas with their family forced to live in one little room together. They are our children too and we have a duty as a society to provide a safe home for them. We have a duty to protect
the childhoods of these children and to make sure they do not suffer from being homeless.” However, the good news is Focus Ireland has helped more than 1,200 families to escape homelessness in the last two years. The charity also helps over 15,500 people nationwide who are homeless or at risk, but they cannot do this without your help. For the month of December, choirs will perform in some of our main stations around Ireland to help collect vital and much needed funds. Donations can also be made through the Iarnród Éireann website, irishrail.ie with an option to make a small donation as you book your journey – while you travel home, you can help fight homelessness for the Focus Ireland #HomeforChristmas campaign.
• You can also donate today at focusireland.ie or call 1850 204 205.
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F E AT U R E
COLE LOTTA LOVE He’s one of the bestselling artists of all time, and has appeared in blockbusters like Independence Day and When Harry Met Sally, but Harry Connick Jr’s latest project sees him celebrate the music of ‘the complete entertainer’, Cole Porter. He talks singing, acting, performing and more. I N T E RV I E W: P E T E R M c G O R A N
HARRY CONNICK JR
arry Connick Jr lounges back in the room of his south Dublin hotel. He’s just gotten in from Paris, will be performing on The Late Late Show a few hours after our interview, and will spend most of his brief time in Dublin fielding questions from journalists. Yet, the 52-year-old jazz singer is as pleasant an interviewee as you could ask for. There’s no mention of a time limit for our chat, and, as we get into his latest album True Love: A Celebration Of Cole Porter, Harry seems to relish the opportunity to talk for long as possible about his passion project. As he explains, talking in his deep, commanding Louisiana drawl, the album sees Connick Jr selecting some classic compositions from The Great American Songbook and rearranging them to suit his own unique voice. “I was signed with Columbia Records for a long time,” he says. “I figured it was time to sign a new deal, so I went to Verve because they were a group I’d admired for a while, and it just seemed a really good fit. I was talking to them early on in the process about what kind of album they thought I should make, and one of the things we kept talking about was a Cole Porter Songbook. I’d never done a Songbook album which is just one composer. I’d also done a few Cole Porter songs, but I’d obviously never done a full album. They said they loved that idea, so that’s how we all settled on that.” He’s known for his voice and his chiselled good looks, but it’s not widely known that Harry writes all the parts for all the music he makes… “It’s funny, because when I was about 23, I did my first orchestral arranging and orchestrating. And I’ve done every album since, writing all the string parts… It’s just what I do. But I never really talked about it because I thought, ‘People don’t really care, they just want to hear the music and they’ll like it or not. They don’t care who’s writing the notes down.’ Then my wife turned to me one day and said, ‘Why don’t you tell people that you’re the guy that conducts the orchestra? Tell people.’ So I’ve told people on this one and I think some people have been surprised by that. But I go out on every record. It’s a lot of work, but it’s my passion.” With legendary songs like ‘Paris’, ‘Night And Day’ and ‘I Get A Kick Out Of You’, as well as his success on Broadway and film, Cole Porter is often considered as ‘the complete songwriter’. Does Harry see himself as something similar? “I see us as having similar skillsets,” he reflects. “I would by no means compare myself to him, other than that we both write music and lyrics and know about orchestration.
“My music will hopefully make people feel better than they did when they came in.”
But I have to draw the line there, because he’s a legend, and it would be presumptuous and inaccurate of me to place myself anywhere near his level.” Harry Connick Jr doesn’t tend to talk about his politics, but I put it to him that Cole Porter was particularly revered because he provided people with entertainment during a difficult juncture in American history – notably during the Depression Era and in the lead-up to World War II. What does it mean to be an entertainer during times of national difficulty? “Man that’s such a great question,” Harry nods fervently. “And you’re absolutely right, he did write music like that – he probably got people through really difficult times. I think that’s something I have in common with him too.” He pauses to think. “You know, it is a particularly difficult time in the United States right now and all over the world. And I take the idea that I’m an entertainer very seriously. I thought it was maybe arrogant to think about that, but I’ve had enough time to digest that fact. If people are going to come and see me play, the bottom line is – my music will hopefully make people feel better than they did when they came in. That’s a big responsibility.” Connick Jr has previously been part of events of national unity in his country, such the Concert For Hurricane Relief, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in his hometown of New Orleans. Has this persuaded him against talking about politics? “Here’s how I see it. When I’m on stage, I see – for example in the United States – that half of those people might fall on one side on the political fence, and the other half might fall on the other side. But yet, they’re all laughing or enjoying something together. And me being a performer, you almost by default celebrate something to do with our common humanity, which is really important. We’re in a very divisive time in our culture, especially in the United States. So that’s something we can’t take lightly. The person you’re sitting next to at a show might have a different set of beliefs to you, yet we’re still breaking bread together with this entertainment.” As well as his new album, Harry Connick Jr is still as busy as ever on the filming front. He’s set to star alongside Katherine Heigl in upcoming crime thriller Fear Of Rain. How does he keep on top of it all? He laughs. “Man, it’s exactly the same as what you’re doing right now. You came to this interview clearly very prepared, seemingly interested, and you’re taking each thing you do today as it comes. When I do a film? The last thing I’m thinking about is playing piano or writing an orchestration, it’s all about that film, that moment. That obviously comes as a result of really complex scheduling on the part of my management. I’ll be honest, if it were left to me I wouldn’t have a career. They keep me on track and keep me focused. I love it all. I have a short attention span. It’s almost like, when I’m in that movie – I’ve forgotten how to play piano. Or when I’m on Broadway, it’s like experiencing everything again for the first time.” • Harry Connick’s new album, True Love: A Celebration Of Cole Porter, is out now.
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A LOVE SUPREME Lesley Manville discusses her new film Ordinary Love, a powerful and emotional drama in which she stars opposite Liam Neeson. I N T E RV I E W R O E McDERMOTT
e haven’t even spoken yet and actress Lesley Manville has already landed me in trouble. Not intentionally, nor recently, to be fair. In 2011, when the nominees for the 83rd Academy Awards were announced, I was asked to speak about the nominations on the radio. I spent so long angrily ranting that Manville hadn’t received a nomination for her sublime performance as a lonely, desperate divorcee in Mike Leigh’s quiet drama Another Year that I barely discussed the actual nominations, annoying the producers – but I stand by my rage. Manville was finally nominated for an Oscar last year for her brilliantly scalding performance in Phantom Thread – but in my heart, she will always be “Two-time Oscar nominee Lesley Manville.” Manville laughs appreciatively when I tell her this. “Thank you!” she says, with the modest air of someone who values the compliment – while also agreeing that her performance deserved a nod. “Who knows what goes through the voters’ minds, but I know it was a complicated one for Sony Classic Pictures who were distributing it. It was looking promising that year that I was going 22
to end up with a nomination, but no-one knew whether to put me as a Supporting Actress or a Leading Actress. I’m an Academy member myself now, and you can put anybody in whatever category you think. I kind of feel maybe that’s where I came unstuck – you can get a split vote where a number of people put you in Supporting and others put you in Leading, and that’s it, you’re done for!” “But listen,” she says conspiratorially, “I got the nomination for Phantom Thread – payback time!” This introduction is Manville in a nutshell: warm, mischievous, assured, humble, and always authentically herself. “It was a great film to make,” she enthuses. “Paul Thomas Anderson is heralded as one of the world’s great film directors, and quite rightly, he’s wonderful. I had 14 glorious weeks of filming that with Daniel Day Lewis and Paul, so it was one of the stand-out experiences of my career. The Oscar nomination was just the icing on the cake. I didn’t grow up in a culture that expected Oscar nominations, so to get one was just thrilling!” Manville may not have grown up in a culture of awards, but she’s growing into it beautifully. The Brighton-born actress started acting as a teenager, was married to Gary Oldman, and has long been respected for her incredible work in theatre,
“Directors just have to put out the offers and hope that the chemistry is going to be there, because you can’t predict that.”
television and film – including her career-long collaborations with acclaimed director Mike Leigh. “I’m so indebted to him,” Manville gushes. “I met him when I was 22 and I don’t know if I would be the actor I am today without him having been such a force of good in my career. He taught me fundamentally that I could play characters that are unlike me, which up until that point, I didn’t think I could do. I didn’t have a breadth of understanding about my own capabilities, so he brought that to my table. “Every job with him has been glorious, whether it’s a big role like in Another Year, or a smaller supporting role in something like Secrets & Lies. I’ve had the most amazing experiences because he’s never asked me to play the same character twice. It’s really been the most brilliant creative influence throughout my career, and I hope we do something else together in the future.” Though Manville has always been an in-demand performer, she is now enjoying what she refers to as a “golden period”, receiving acclaim both in the UK and internationally. As well as Phantom Thread, she has recently starred in the BBC sitcom Mum, appeared in Disney’s Maleficent and its sequel, and starred in an international touring production of Eugene O’Neill’s magnum opus, Long Day’s Journey Into Night. “I’m working too much, I’ve got too much work on!” she laughs. “One can only be grateful.” Manville’s latest film, Ordinary Love, is a beautifully quiet drama in which she and Liam Neeson star as a married couple, who are left reeling when Manville’s character is diagnosed with 23
breast cancer. Neeson and Manville share the warm, teasing chemistry of a couple who not only love each other, but like each other immensely – though the weight of the diagnosis destabilises their easy routine. Written by Belfast playwright Owen McCafferty and loosely based on the experiences of McCafferty and his wife Peggy who survived breast cancer, the film feels realistic, grounded and emotional, which is exactly what attracted Manville to the role. “Then there’s the Liam Neeson element, which is not be sniffed at!” Manville laughs. “I was asked did I want to do a twohander with Liam Neeson, and my hand shot up immediately – yes please! But it’s a beautiful film and I think it very delicately and accurately conveys what it’s like to go through this experience. You don’t want to make a film about such a difficult subject and get the factual stuff wrong, or have the procedural stuff be inaccurate. But we had real technicians and nurses when my character is having her biopsy and chemo, so they could really talk me through what it would be like, to help me to play it. And there’s hardly anyone who isn’t affected by cancer in some way in their lives, so it’s important.” Neeson and Manville are lovely onscreen together, showcasing the quiet, ordinary joys of life – the jokes, the dinners, the affection, the contentment – and how their characters try to keep valuing their everyday life together, even when going through something as devastating as cancer. Manville is proud of and grateful for the intimacy she and Neeson conveyed onscreen. “Directors just have to put out the offers and hope that the chemistry is going to be there, because you can’t predict that,” she notes. “I think they knew Liam and I were both nice, easygoing people and neither of us have a reputation for being difficult, but we didn’t know each other beforehand. Liam lives in New York and I was doing a play in New York a few months before we started shooting the film, so we met up and had some time together. But it was – and I think Liam would say the same – just easy to be with each other, the chemistry was there. Which is lucky, because we have to do such intimate scenes, and I felt very easy in his company.” Hollywood is not a kind industry to women, particularly to actresses over 30, and Manville has been determined to seek out interesting roles for women her age. She has found them – but acknowledges they are few and far between. “I’m having a golden time at the moment, but I do know a lot of my peers are fed up being offered The Wife or The Mother,” shares Manville. “These characters have no dimension and aren’t the driving force of the piece; they’re just serving the male characters. But I do think it’s slowly getting better because the film industry is realising that if you put an interesting story with a woman over 40 on the screen, people will want to go and see it – they’ve proven that, in their droves. And it can be any kind of film, from Mamma Mia to Ordinary Love. They’re films that are properly representing my generation, and aren’t just pigeonholing them into uninteresting roles. It is getting better, but there needs to be more progress.
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On your Marks, Sunset, Go! The Script’s frontman Danny O’Donoghue tells us why the band’s latest album, the chart-topping Sunsets & Full Moons, finds them re-embracing stadium-filling anthems. I N T E RV I E W: P E T E R M c G O RA N
anny O’Donoghue has a spring in his step. He bounces into the listening room in Dublin’s Windmill Lane Studios, greeting the select few who’ve been offered the first chance to hear The Script’s new album, Sunsets & Full Moons, with a grin. Wearing his trademark uniform of baggy black tee and skinny jeans, the frontman is in characteristically talkative form. It’s the first time that anyone outside the band, and their close-knit team of producers, has heard their new music. “No better A&R people than the Irish, because they know a good song when they hear it,” quips O’Donoghue. The Script’s sixth album is being blasted at near full volume from the impeccable soundsystem. Journalists – both new and longer in the tooth – are bopping along to the band’s instantly recognisable brand of anthemic power-pop. But they’ve nothing on Danny himself, who stands at the side of the room dancing and miming to his own lyrics like he’s The Script’s biggest fan. Clearly, he’s confident about these songs. The album started taking shape in South Africa. There, sans mobile phone, Danny unwound in a way he hadn’t done in about 12 years. More specifically, the title stemmed from a particular twilight evening on the beach, where he witnessed a sunset from one end of the shore, and turned his head to see a full moon hanging over the other. It felt like a metaphor, threw up notions of endings, darkness, lunacy and the reassurance of daylight coming at the end of it all. “I think as a theme, sunsets are the ending of something, full moons the beginning,” he tells Go Rail. “In the immediate context, a full moon can also 24
be about the descent into lunacy. It’s about how crazy a night can be. If you break up with someone, what’s the first thing you’re going to do that night? You’re going to go radio rental. You’re going to cut loose. But it’s also about knowing that however dark the night gets, you’re always going to see dawn.” This initial idea was ironed out with the help of Mark Sheehan, who remains the lynchpin of the band in terms of lyrics and production. “It all fitted together when we sat down,” says Danny. “Mark has this thing for day and night concepts. Polar opposites. Ying and yang. The more he talked about it, the more my head was running away with things. I was thinking, ‘The gigs! The live shows! We could have a sun stage and a moon stage!’ This was all running through my head. So concept-wise, we started to thread it all through.” The first song, ‘Something Unreal’, thwacks with a pummelling bassline and acts as a rallying call for people not to rely on their online selves in order to feel something ‘real’. Danny already has this pinned as their new show opener. Similarly, ‘If You Don’t Love Yourself ’ is produced in a way that captures the EDM hooks of The Chainsmokers, with a drop chorus that will go down a storm when performed live. Danny is animated as he says proudly: “I’ve never been as excited about a group of songs. Not to put down what we’ve
“That was the catalyst to us saying, ‘We need to get back to James Street. Two of us out the back of our shed doing it on our own.’” done in the past, but I’m really fired up for these ones.” Rewind two years. Autumn 2017. The Script were fresh from releasing their fifth album, Freedom Child. A mish-mash of R&B, dance, pop and rock, it was the sound of The Script trying to find a fresh direction in a rapidly-changing musical landscape. “There were some great songs,” reflects Danny. “‘Arms Open’ came out of that record. And ‘Rain’ was one of the most successful songs in the UK and Europe that year.” According to Danny, making that album led to “an elastic band springing back to its centre. And the centre for us was emotionallycharged music that people can sing their hearts out to at festivals.” In contrast, Sunsets & Full Moons is very much about going back to basics. “Freedom Child was a massive experiment for us,” Danny admits. “It could’ve gone really wrong, because we kind of left what we knew, we left the security of our studio, to basically go to everyone else’s studio.” It’s the oldest cliché in the book, but Danny says that by taking that plunge, the trio rediscovered the value of each other as artists. “Every single producer or writer we were working with was turning to Mark and saying, ‘What do you think of this? What do you make of this lyric?’ Or else he’d say something and I’d see them hanging on to his every word. Now, I’ve known Mark since I was 12, and I’m not saying I got used to being around a genius, but I think it was a case of ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ (laughs). Seeing their reaction to him, I had this realisation. Like, ‘What are we doing here?’ Melodies, production-wise, lyrics – we’ve got a genius here in terms of all that. We can do this ourselves. “That was the catalyst to us saying, ‘We need to get back to James Street. Two of us out the back of our shed doing it on our own’. We have that ethos now. To be fair, we still had a great team. Jimbo Barry, who did the likes of ‘Hall Of Fame’ – he’d be like a fourth 25
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CLOCKWISE: The Script; Coldplay’s Chris Martin; and the band’s early days in Mytown.
member of the band. But the nucleus of the album was a few lads in a room. Going to the same pub at night time. Production was the main thing when it came to experiencing the music on Freedom Child, but with this one I’m saying, ‘I want you to listen to the songs, to the lyrics’. The backdrop of these ones has been very acoustically led. We’ve made something that buskers on Grafton Street will enjoy singing.” Does Danny get nervous sitting in a room full of critics playing new music for the first time? Or think about how an album will be received and how it will sell? “We all think about how the songs will resonate with our audience,” the singer admits. “But that’s really where we draw the line. You can ask my managers and the one thing they’ll always say is – you can’t talk to me about money, because I don’t care that much. I really don’t. Of course, be savvy with your stuff, but if you start becoming money-minded, everything else will go.” This, Danny confirms, goes back to his formative years in the music industry, when he was a twenty-something writer and producer living between LA and Ireland, barely getting by and struggling to make a name for himself. “It’s strange, because I was very happy when I was 28 being a broke musician living in LA,” he says. “Even then, I was very happy with my money situation. This? All this? It’s a plus. I don’t take it for granted either. I suppose a lot of people gave up when they were 22/23, then a lot of people stayed on until they were 24/25. These seemed like really pivotal years. It felt like, at 28, it was only me and Mark left, after 10 years of writing and
“Where’s the next place we can play that’s going to make for an emotional, important gig?”
producing. “At that stage you’re nearly 30 and everyone’s telling you, ‘You’re way too old for all of this. You were too old when you were 24.’ And then, miracles happen. We started writing. The first song we wrote together as a band was ‘We Cry’. Then ‘Before The Worst’. Then ‘Break Even’. Songs that, to this day, are still putting a roof over my head. I’ve kept my face out of the clubs and red carpets for a long time, because I know it was the music that made me. So you’re more likely to find me in Sun Studios, or with someone playing guitar thinking, ‘What’s the next song that’s going to make someone cry?’” In 2015, The Script made history after becoming only the third Irish act to headline Croke Park. During the album playback, Danny observes that in Ireland, we can have “our own Coldplay” – an internationally mega-successful stadium act for the 21st century. So what’s The Script’s next step on the live front? “To be honest, I’m emotionally-led,” says Danny. “I’m thinking, ‘Where’s the next place we can play that’s going to make for an emotional, important gig?’ We were just offered a massive tour in America for a lot of money, and I was like, ‘Ehhh… we’ve done that five times, what’s different about this?’ I’m reaching for: ‘Irish band plays Central Park. Irish band takes over New York. You know?’ Or just anything a bit different. Dublin Castle – getting on stage, standing up there where our forefathers fought for the place.. These things speak to me.” Is ‘The Script at Croke Park 2020’ somewhere in the back of his head? “Glen always reminds me to be very careful, because I have a habit of saying too much,” he laughs. “But no, listen, we came offstage at Croke Park when we were supporting U2, and I remember I was annoyed cause I wanted to stay on the stage longer! I said to him, ‘That’s going to be us one day brother’. We were saying to each other, ‘We belong here’. Then four years later, there we were. And yeah, I’m always thinking Croke Park. I love playing there. But where else? Honestly, I’m thinking Etihad Stadium. That’s where I’m thinking. I believe in the energy and the vibe of this music. I believe that we can do the Etihad.” • The Script’s sixth album, Sunsets & Full Moons, is out now on Sony. The band play SSE Arena, Belfast, on March 3; and 3Arena, Dublin (5-7).
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Jackie Hayden (Journalist) Stephen Lindsey (Publisher) Greg Fry (Digital & Social Media Consultant) Gavin Glass (Radio Nova) Donall Scannell (Born Optimistic) Edison Waters (Music Manager) Steve Averill (U2 Designer) (AMP Visual) Nick Seymour (Crowded House) Eileen O’Gorman (Gleeson McGrath Baldwin Solicitors)
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F E AT U R E
BRAVE NEW WORLD Acclaimed singer Sorcha Richardson discusses her stunning debut album, First Prize Bravery, transatlantic living, negotiating friendships and relationships, and why she’s happy to be back home in Dublin. I N T E RV I E W P E T E R M cG O RA N
goes without saying – first albums are tricky. But in Sorcha Richardson’s case, that felt particularly true considering that her musical output to date has consisted of brilliantly evocative singles, which don’t conform to a single genre (there’s lo-fi indie, folk rock, synth-pop – take your pick). Richardson is a bit of an anomaly on the Irish music scene. For most of the time that she spent becoming a successful musician, she was away from these shores (she moved to America after school to study creative writing in Brooklyn, where she lived up until last year). She had a dedicated following back in Ireland, but it was on the digital landscape that her stature grew; singles like ‘Last Train’ and ‘Ruin Your Night’ gained a staggering amount of traction on Spotify, and Sorcha found herself placed on major playlists, where her songs amassed tens of millions of plays. When I spoke to 28
her last year during a public interview, she laughed casually about a surreal moment when she woke up one morning to find her phone ablaze with notifications: Hollywood star Chloe Grace Moretz had shared her song ‘Petrol Station’ with her 3 million+ followers on Twitter. The singles releases were obviously doing well, but making a complete body of work was something that had been on Sorcha’s mind for a while now. “It’s exciting to do this after doing the single thing for a few years,” she says. “It’s exciting to make a more complete picture. This feels like a novel rather than a short story.” The 10 songs on First Prize Bravery are packed with vivid imagery, documenting the minutiae of social interactions: the dramatic early days of a relationship (‘Honey’); the old friend who talks about standing up for your own (‘First Prize Bravery’); and the tail-end of a late night, where the penny drops that a relationship isn’t incompatible (‘Oh Oscillator’). Sorcha’s voice gravitates brilliantly from deeply melodic,
“The way I know how to understand things better is to write about it. Then it ends up in the songs.”
confessional and poetic (“Watched you move around the room / You’re more magnetic than the moon”) to a kind of blunt tongue-in-cheek irony (“Hey, Ok, we don’t have to talk about it / It’s only love”). On top of that, her penchant for telling stories about intensely relatable social situations mean that if this is a ‘novel’, it could well be a Sally Rooney one. “Once I decided that I was going to make this, I started writing differently compared to anything that I’d done before,” says Sorcha, explaining how she sat down in front of the piano in her parents’ house and, still unsure of her ability with the keys, just… started writing. “After a while I stopped and said, ‘Right let me look at everything I’ve done from the past year-and-a-half.’ I spent a few weeks trying to get a clearer direction of how I wanted the album to be. A lot of it came to me when I was driving around LA with one of my friends, listening to the demos in his car. Because I think you hear them in a much different way when you listen to them out in the world, than when you listen to them with headphones on. I can’t listen properly that way. I’m too analytical. So over a couple of weeks, I went through this process of kicking things off the list, until there were maybe 14 or 15 songs. Then taking those ones and saying, ‘These are the ones I think make the most sense. These are the ones I want to work on.’” For the recording process, Sorcha teamed up with Alex Casnoff, who had been her friend and the producer of many of her songs in the past. “Alex and I had worked on ‘4AM’ and ‘Waking Life’ and ‘Can’t We Pretend’. Some of these songs existed back then. I showed him early versions of ‘Oh Oscillator’ and ‘High In The Garden’, so we were talking about these songs for a while, but it didn’t feel like they were ready to be recorded. Then I spent some time in New York, recording some better studio demos. “After that, the bulk of the recording was done between Dublin and LA. Alex got a band of his friends and we recorded a lot of the drums and piano and bass live together. Then we kind of finished it with a lot of swapping of hard drives and Abletons back and forth. Alex has produced most of my music that people would have heard, so it felt easier to let him take the reins than it might have with other producers.” Lyrically, First Prize Bravery is about negotiating friendships and relationships. How did Richardson find herself gravitating towards those themes? She thinks on it. “What happens with songwriting is – the times when things go wrong, I really find 29
myself dwelling on that a lot. The way I know how to understand things better is to write about it. Then it ends up in the songs. And also, friendships and relationships are confusing. The intricacies between yourself and another person – whatever category of relationship it is – they’re so messy and so confusing, and so much goes left unsaid. And if you would just say what you mean, maybe it would be easier. (Laughs) But then, maybe it wouldn’t? Maybe people find that vulnerability hard to deal with. But I always find that interesting, and that’s what I always return to. The quiet intimate moments between two people that are confusing.” Added into the confusion was the fact that Sorcha was spending almost a decade living between Ireland and the US. Was it difficult to even conceive of a relationship with someone when you didn’t know where you’d be in a few months? “Not necessarily,” she says, “but I like being spontaneous. I like being able to leave at the drop of a hat. So that actually suits me fine. So yeah… Not really, and I haven’t been in a serious relationship for a while. So I think, you know, having the freedom to decide ‘I want to go to New York for a month’, or ‘I’m going to live in Dublin for a couple of months’ – I like having the freedom to know I can make those decisions without too many consequences.” Despite this, Sorcha feels comfortable being back in Dublin – for the meantime anyway. “The last six months or so, I’ve loved being here,” she smiles. “I was in New York at the end of the summer and my friends were making fun of me, because I was talking about Dublin so much and telling them about how good it was, but I do love being here. I’m happy to call Dublin home.” With more Irish shows and an appearance at the prestigious Eurosonic Festival on the horizon, the songs from Sorcha’s debut album will get their full live airing soon. We can’t wait. • Sorcha Richardson’s First Prize Bravery is out now, via Faction Records.
in tipp top shape
F E AT U R E
With the new GAA season set to roar into action at the end of January, Tipperary star Niall Oâ€™Meara reflects on a memorable 2019 that saw the Premier County capture a second All Ireland in four years. Plus we preview what the spring has in store for the top teams in hurling and football. INTERVIEW STUART CLARK
“Liam’s a brilliant man manager… he genuinely wants to know what’s going on in your life.”
PHOTO BY SAM BARNES/SPORTSFILE
he next time you find yourself complaining about an ache or pain – and I’m a Master of the Self-Pitying Grandad Noise – spare a thought for Niall O’Meara who when scoring Tipperary’s first goal in their All-Ireland smiting of Kilkenny last August was in dire need of a hernia operation. It was the latest in a recent list of injuries that also included a busted shoulder, punctured lung (ouch!) and a recurring hamstring problem. Niall admits that but for the season ending on the high of his club side, Kilruane MacDonaghs, winning the North Tipperary Senior Hurling Championship, he might very well have thrown in the towel. “I was beginning to think, ‘What am I getting out of this aside from injuries and constant trips to hospital and being prodded by consultants?’” Niall reflects. “You’re not a professional so it has to work symbiotically with your job – I’m a primary school teacher – and I was wracked with frustration thinking, ‘Is anything ever going to go my way again?’ “Winning that final against Kiladangan was so important because I’d grown up with the Kilruane MacDonaghs lads. You’d have slagged them, they’d have slagged you. The friendships run deep. I listened to Brendan Maher’s interview the other day when he said that winning the Munster Final with Borrisoleigh was better than winning the All Ireland with Tipp. I can totally see where he’s coming from in terms of being able to enjoy it more. You’re straight away back to your family and parish. I only started driving again today following my hernia operation so I didn’t make the game in Cork, but I’m delighted for Brendan who’s a great friend of mine and Borrisoleigh who’d have good representation with Tipp.” In his stirring “This is what we live for” speech afterwards, Maher, who provided Niall with his All-Ireland Final goal assist, spoke of the victory lifting the parish following a spate of recent tragedies involving current and former players 31
and their families.. “Yeah, that’s the power of hurling and football at club level,” Niall nods solemnly. “There’s an extended family giving you all this kindness and support. Winning’s not going to make it go away, but it does ease the pain for a few hours.” North Tipp Senior Hurling Championship medal secured, Niall got his first taste of playing under returning county bainisteoir Liam Sheedy. “Liam’s a brilliant man manager. He understands that first and foremost I’m a teacher and that some of the others work in accountancy or insurance. He’d always ask, ‘How’s your job going?’ because he knows how your wellbeing off the pitch can have an impact on your hurling. Some managers are a bit, ‘Leave your problems on the touchline’ – and to a degree they’re right – but Liam genuinely wants to know what’s going on in your life, which makes it easier to train and play at the weekend. “He’s very good at gauging the different strengths lads have, which is what helped us get over the line this year,” Niall continues. “On a personal level, I came off against Cork in the first game with a hamstring spasm. The following week I was on the mend and getting ready to go out against Clare when I tweaked it badly in training. Brendan Maher and myself jumped for a ball and landed in a tangle of legs. When I went to push off from it I could feel my hamstring straining. Liam Sheedy spoke to me straight away after training saying, ‘Don’t worry, it’s a long season’, which mentally put me in the right place to recover. There wasn’t a hint of negativity.” By the time the All-Ireland Quarter-Final came around in July, Niall was back in the starting lineup feeling fresh and fit. “It’s an amateur sport but, being a teacher who has the whole summer off, I’m able to train the same way as a professional athlete,” he explains. “If we train on a Sunday, I can do as much recovery as I want on a Monday, unlike some of the other lads who are into their jobs at nine o’clock. I’ve time to cook the right food instead of grabbing a breakfast roll. I go back into training on Tuesday feeling totally re-energised. It’s a massive advantage.”
F E AT U R E
“You’d hear everything from Oasis to EDM. Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’ comes up a good bit; it’s really inspiring.”
LOVELY HURLING: Niall O’Meara at the Hot Press / Lyons Tea ‘Now We’re Talking’ event in Dublin. (Opposite) Tipp dressing room favourite Bob Marley.
BOB MARLEY PHOTO BY JUSTIN THOMAS
One of the first names onto the team-sheet for August 18’s Croke Park showdown against The Cats, Niall felt from the get-go that it was going to be Tipp’s year. “To maintain a sense of normality, we stayed in our own homes the night before the final. Being a bit meticulous/ obsessive, I checked my gear bag three times and did all the carb loading recommended by the dietician. There are certain foods you eat at certain times, which gives the day before a bit of structure and stops you getting nervous. There was some back and forth on the group WhatsApp reminding each other to go through the various routines. Travelling up on the bus I felt that, compared to the two previous All-Irelands I was involved in, we were less tense. When we arrived and walked round the pitch there were smiles rather than serious poker faces. The likes of Noel McGrath and Seamus Callanan had been in six or seven All-Irelands, so their experience alone helped the younger lads. We had every box ticked in terms of preparation – the backroom staff is top class – but you still have to do the job on the day.” With Kilkenny three points up at the time, Niall’s 25th minute goal was a decisive moment in what wasn’t the
prettiest of games. “Oh, it was a real war of attrition,” he admits. “Our coach Eamon O’Shea, who’s a brilliant man, always says victory comes from seizing the big moments. We hadn’t been going great, but I was able to sidestep and shoot into the back of the net. I’d started the game off as centre forward and then after 15, 20 minutes came deeper – it was a plan we’d had to change things up a bit – hence me being in the position to make that big play. The goal gave everyone a 10% energy boost. After the break we were definitely the best team.” Who are Tipperary’s big talkers and leaders on the pitch? “There’s a stat that over a ten-year span Padraic Maher missed only 23 minutes of Championship game time, and most of that as a result of blood subs, which automatically makes him somebody you look up to,” Niall says with barely concealed awe. “Then you have Noel McGrath coming back from his cancer battle in 2015. On and off the pitch he’s an inspiration. You have the guys who’d speak consistently and then there are the ones who’d give you that moment of inspiration, probably when you’re least expecting it.” What music soundtracked Tipp’s successful All-Ireland campaign? “We have a playlist on shuffle that each of the lads contributes a couple of songs to,” he smiles. “You’d hear everything from Oasis to EDM. Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’ comes up a good bit; it’s really inspiring. Responsibility for the music ultimately falls to Brian Stakelum, our kit-man, who’ll pull out a lot of worldies. He told us about Sam Fender and Post Malone ages before they were in the charts. Corner-backs aren’t known for their style but Cathal Barrett is another good man for a song.” Before picking a hurley up in anger again, Niall is heading to Mombasa with the Ray Of Sunshine foundation. “A group, which includes myself, a local priest and three or four of the founders, is heading over on December 30th,” he concludes. “Last Christmas we did a sort of summer camp for the kids, this year we’re building an extension to a school in two weeks. I’ve just fallen in love with them and Kenya as a whole. It’s humbling to see what they go through whilst remaining so positive. We had a pub fundraiser the other day that brought in over €6,000, which was amazing, but a lot more is needed. You can donate to the project or sponsor a child at rayofsunshine.ie.”
NIALL O’ MEARA BRIAN FENTON
HURLING AND FOOTBALL 2020
IN A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN Paul Nolan previews what spring has in store for the leading teams in hurling and football.
JJ O OE E C CA AN NN N II N NG G
new format for the 2020 National Hurling League means the country’s top teams will now be competing in Group A and Group B of Division 1. In the former, it’s all change after an eventful winter full of upheaval. For a start, there are new managerial regimes in several counties: Shane O’Neill takes over the reins in Galway; Kieran Kingston returns to the Cork hot-seat; and Liam Cahill assumes control in Waterford. There are many fascinating storylines to monitor over the spring, chief among them whether Niall O’Meara and Tipperary will maintain their blistering 2019 form into the new season. The All Ireland champions kickstart their campaign with a mouthwatering clash against league title holders Limerick at Semple Stadium, Thurles on Saturday, January 25. John Kiely’s charges will be keen to make amends for an ultimately disappointing 2019; at one stage in the summer, they had completed a unique treble of being simultaneously league, Munster and All Ireland champions, only to see their bid to retain Liam MacCarthy come up agonisingly short in a one-point semi-final loss to Kilkenny. Over in Group B, Davy Fitzgerald’s Wexford will be looking to build on an impressive 2019, which saw them reach the All Ireland semi-final – eventually losing out to Tipp – and capture a first Leinster title SÉAMUS CALLANAN in 15 years. They commence their season on Saturday, January 25 with an away tie to Eddie Brennan’s Laois, who themselves enjoyed a terrific 12 months, capturing the Joe McDonagh Cup and landing a historic quarter-final win against Dublin. The Dubs themselves are playing in perhaps the opening weekend highlight of Group B, as on Sunday, January 26 they travel to Kilkenny, where the iconic Brian Cody is still at the wheel. In what is an exceptionally competitive era for hurling, the
action is sure to excite and enthrall throughout the spring once again. In the National Football League, the glamour clash of the opening weekend is undoubtedly the Saturday evening Croke Park encounter between Dublin and Kerry on January 25, a reprisal of last year’s All Ireland final when the Dubs eventually captured a historic five-in-a-row after a replay. Adding to the intrigue is the fact the Dubs are under new management as they commence their Division 1 campaign, with Dessie Farrell replacing the massively successful Jim Gavin, while Peter Keane will be looking to further develop the Kingdom’s prodigious duo of David Clifford and Sean O’Shea. On the same evening, there’s another attractive fixture up in Ballybofey, where Donegal will welcome reigning league champions Mayo. Brimming with young talent such as Odhran McFadden Ferry and Jaime Brennan, Donegal had a hugely positive 2019, winning promotion to Division 1, capturing the Ulster title and playing one of the games of the year against Kerry in the Super 8s. James Horan’s Mayo, meanwhile, will be looking to further nurture outstanding young players such as Matthew Ruane and James Carr, as well as getting generational talents like Lee Keegan and Cillian O’Connor back to peak form. Elsewhere in Division 1, Tyrone will embark on another odyssey under the country’s longest serving manager, Mickey Harte, while a Galway team filled with sublime talents like Shane Walsh and Ian Burke will be looking to kick on under the new management of legendary ex-player Padraic Joyce. There’s also intriguing action on the cards in Division 2, as multiple All Ireland winner Jack O’Connor takes over the managerial reigns in Kildare, and a highly promising young Armagh team continue their development under Kieran McGeeney. Overall, the spring looks set to offer another feast of top class GAA action. Enjoy!
D E S T I N AT I O N
M Y FAV O U R I T E J O U R N E Y
THE LONG & THE SHORTT OF IT One of Irish comedy’s biggest stars, Pat Shortt, on why he enjoys taking the Thurles-to-Dublin route. During his participation in the television programme Who Do You Think You Are?, the comic was “lucky enough to get to drive a steam engine from Dublin to Thurles, so that was a huge buzz.” He enjoyed the unique experience of helping to drive the train, and fuelling the fire in the vintage steam engine. The journey started out at Dublin Connolly, then went on to Heuston and under the Phoenix Park – a tunnel he believes not many local people know about, though it’s “one of the biggest in Ireland”. He reckons the underground part lasted “around 10 minutes”. Pat says that vintage train enthusiasts from the UK seem to
“The noise they make – it’s almost meditative, it’s very relaxing.”
P JOURNEY: THURLES TO DUBLIN VIA LIMERICK
at Shortt is no stranger to visiting most places in Ireland while touring or going fishing, but certain journeys stand out for him especially. Meeting with Go Rail for a chat in Dublin, he recounts how his most regular trip is that between Thurles, near where he lives, and Dublin, via Limerick Junction. He began travelling the route from an early age, both for music lessons and to visiting his brothers and sisters in Dublin. Pat generally drives to gigs nowadays, but when he does take the train, he likes to write on his laptop, in between savouring the picturesque views. “I find the sounds of the tracks very soothing,” he notes. “The noise they make – it’s almost meditative, it’s very relaxing.” Indeed, rail travel is in Pat’s blood. His grandfather was a train driver – literally living in the station! – and so Pat, along with his siblings, “always had an interest in toy train sets as a result.” 34
know about this unusual part of the journey, specifically travelling here to experience it. “It was one of the most amazing parts of the trip,” he enthuses. “I was in the cockpit area, if you want to call it that, and there are very few people who get to say they’ve done that, you know? So that was kind of cool. I didn’t even know it existed.” Pat believes that the DART is also underrated, and he enjoys the trip out to Dalkey along by Sandymount to visit his brother. He is frequently bowled over by the views it offers, which he describes as “absolutely gorgeous. I presume a lot of people in Dublin take it for granted, because it’s there every day, but for someone like – who only does it around five or six times a year – it’s a stunning trip.” Pat’s passion for fly fishing takes him all around the country, and he often brings along friends or his son with him (“he loves it too, which is even better”). Pat also generously discloses his favourite fishing spots, including Tipperary. “Also, we often take a boat up on Lough Derg around the Boyne Bridge part,” he adds. “We do some pike and game fishing, then go elsewhere for trout fishing in the summertime. We try to get to Donegal, down to Kerry and around the country. It’s a lovely thing to do.” Another train trip further afield that stands out for him is the “beautiful journey to Belfast via the coastal run by Skerries and Drogheda, which is stunning.” Pat can look forward to taking in many of these spots and more, as he takes off on his nationwide tour in early 2020.
C E L E B R I T Y
TA B L E
Whitmore & Wisdom One of Ireland’s most successful exports, Laura Whitmore, talks road tripping across America, influencers, the Irish music scene and her acclaimed new podcast series, over a show-stopping meal at Hugo’s in Dublin. Interview: Lucy O’Toole Hugo’s 6 Merrion Row Dublin 2 Tel: (01) 676 5955 hugos.ie
onsidering that we’re sitting in a restaurant famed for its rock royalty clientele and legendary after-show private parties, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Laura Whitmore is excitedly showing us her Foo Fighters tattoo – casually hand-scrawled by frontman Dave Grohl himself. Located just off the northeast corner of St. Stephen’s Green, Hugo’s proves to be the
perfect respite from Friday night’s relentless wind and rain. Behind the iconic blue façade, the restaurant effortlessly exudes both a warm nostalgia and elegance. With fresh, locally sourced ingredients, famously friendly staff and an imaginative menu with a French twist, Hugo’s has become a Dublin institution since opening its doors back in 2007. “Pinot Grigio is always my go-to,” Laura says as we peruse the extensive wine list. “It’s the safest option. I used to rob Blue Nun from my mum’s cabinet and bring it to house parties – and I thought I loved it! Then I tasted other stuff, and I realised I could never drink it again.” Since these early house party escapades, it’s clear the Bray-native-turned-Londoner has developed considerably more sophisticated 36
tastes – though her recent road trip across America brought plenty of weird and wonderful new food experiences. “You feel like you have to try everything when you’re travelling, but the portions in America are so big,” she laughs. “You’d be like, ‘Can I have a small portion of Brussels sprouts?’ – thinking that would be healthy and simple. But everything’s deep-fried and huge. I learned that you can really deep-fry anything!” Heading off with her partner – comedian and Love Island narrator Iain Stirling – Laura’s three-week American road trip was something she had always “wanted to tick off the bucket list”. “I’ve spent a lot of time in LA and New York, but I had never really been to the bit in
C O N V E R S A T I O N S T A R T E R S : Pan-fried fillets of black sole; Laura Whitmore enjoying her meal; and other gastronomic delights...
the middle,” she explains. “You think that you know America, but it’s so big – each state is like its own country. I like LA because I’ve got friends living there, but it’s such a weird place because you can’t really walk anywhere – you’ve got to drive. Then New York is like London – everyone’s looking straight ahead, and if you fall in the street they might step over you. But the smaller places were so welcoming.” Deep-fried Brussel sprouts are a distant memory as the first round of plates arrives: Fivemiletown goat’s cheese served with organic beetroot, fresh pear and clementine dressing; along with chicken liver parfait with plum chutney, watercress and crispy melba toast – all irresistibly presented under the soft lighting of the chandeliers. “We did the trip in 20 days, but I would’ve loved another week,” she continues, as we sample the flavoursome fare. “When you’re freelancing, you feel like you have to say ‘yes’ to everything, and I’d been doing that for a while. But eventually you learn to say ‘no’ to things, and to do some things just for fun.” Living and working in the public eye, is there a constant pressure to stay glued to her social media apps? “I’ve been on Instagram since the start, and back then I never really gave much thought about what I was putting up,” she admits. “I miss that, because Instagram has become a lot more contrived now. Of course there are positives and negatives to social media – and certain responsibilities, too. I don’t like putting too much negativity out there, because there’s so much anyway. We should be using it to spread hopefulness and to try and push things forward, rather than using it to take people down a gear.”
Laura also doesn’t envy the younger generations, who have to learn how to navigate a social media-obsessed world as they grow up. “I feel lucky that I’m in it now, but that I missed growing up with it,” she says. “One of my brothers has just turned 21, and he’s a bit anti-Instagram. He just doesn’t want the stress. I come from a generation where, if I wasn’t invited to the party, I didn’t know about it! But nowadays if you’re not invited to the party as a teen, it’s all online, and you’ll feel left out. “And now ‘influencer’ is a job title,” she adds with a laugh. “It definitely wasn’t in my day. I’ve read interviews with me and they’ve called me a ‘presenter/broadcaster/influencer’. I was like, ‘Oh?’ Then I figured, maybe I am! But the important thing, no matter what you’re doing, is to have a purpose.” Our stunning seafood dishes soon follow: pan-fried fillets of black sole served with baby spinach, Ballymakenny baby potatoes, samphire and langoustine bisque; and Clogherhead crab and torched mackerel, with pickled kohlrabi and dulse seaweed. Doing the rounds on the side is a delicious baked cauliflower gratin. As we tuck in, Laura tells me that this kind of spread is a far cry from her lifestyle when she last lived in Dublin, nearly 12 years ago “It’s so funny – my British friends are always like, ‘Oh, I’m going to Dublin for work, tell me where I should go!’” she says. “But I have to tell them that the last time I went out in Dublin I was a student – so unless Redz still exists and still serves €3 shots on Thursdays, I don’t really know! We had the best times, though. It was around that time that I really fell in love with live music. We’d go to gigs at the Button Factory, Doran’s and Whelan’s. It was
“I really fell in love with live music. We’d go to gigs at the Button Factory, Doran’s and Whelan’s.”
P L A T E E X P E C T A T I O N S : Laura mid-conversation; a chef at work; and the presenter with owner Gina Murphy.
great – but I definitely wasn’t part of any fancier scene.” Does she still make an effort to keep up to date with the Irish music scene? “I have a ‘Track Of The Week’ on my radio show on the BBC, so I always like to know what’s going on,” she nods. “I’ve played some great Irish bands on the show, like Wyvern Lingo – representing Bray – and, of course, Hozier – Bray again! Gavin James and Dermot Kennedy are brilliant too. My producer, who’s British, tells me to stop picking Irish bands all the time, but I don’t think I’m biased – there’s just an incredible array of good music over here. There must be something in the blood. There’s also a universal element to Irish music, which might be because Irish people travel so much and are based all over the world – the music just connects everywhere.” From presenting and interviewing, to flexing her acting chops in major TV series and stage productions, Laura reckons that a love of storytelling is the unifying thread that runs throughout her work. “I wanted to study drama, but then my dad was like, ‘That’s not a real job!’” she recalls, laughing. “Then I thought of journalism. I was obsessed with Lois Lane when I was younger. Everyone loved Superman, but he had powers – Lois Lane was the one really putting her life on the line, and all she had was the power of the pen.” Now she’s putting stories at the centre of her work once more, with her new podcast series, CASTaway. “It was actually something I didn’t really want to do at first, if I’m honest!” she laughs. “I’m doing so many other
projects at the moment, and I thought there were already so many podcasts out there. But then I got approached by a production company, and it’s been incredible. CASTaway is a podcast about podcasts – I’m talking to people about their top five podcasts, and how having all this information out there has affected them. I come from the MTV background, where you’re interviewing people for 10 minutes just to get a sound bite for promo. To have someone for an hour, without a publicist, is lovely. People are able to be more open.” “I’ve had Blindboy on, and I was chuffed because I’m a huge fan,” she continues. “I saw him at Body & Soul last year, doing a talk about toxic masculinity, and he spoke so intelligently and sensitively about the subject from a male perspective. Listening to other people’s stories is so helpful for everyone – it makes you realise that we’re all kind of the same. That’s what I’ve learned from doing this so far.” And if that doesn’t keep her busy enough, she’s also found the time to write and star in an upcoming short film, Sadhbh – showing at the Irish Film Festival London in November. “It was written last year, and we shot it back in January,” Laura explains. “Sometimes you do something like that and you forget about it. Now it’s coming ‘round again, and I don’t know if I want to watch it! I shot another short film during the summer, and I’ve a few other projects on the way as well. Honestly, I’ll always do whatever interests and challenges me.” • Laura Whitmore’s CASTaway podcast series is available to stream now. 38
“To have someone for an hour, without a publicist, is lovely. People are able to be more open.” T H E DA M A G E Fivemiletown Goat’s Cheese: €10.50 Chicken Liver Parfait: €9.95 Pan-fried Fillets of Black Sole: €35.50 Clogherhead Crab & Torched Mackerel: €14.50 Baked Cauliflower Gratin: €5.50 Glass of Pinot Grigio: €7.50
Spice Up Your Life Stuart Clark Brings You The Latest Foodie News
G L AS AC TS One of Dublin’s hottest new tables is Glas, a stylish vegan ‘n’ veggie joint whose menu changes with the season. Residing close to Dáil Éireann at 16 Chatham Street, D2, we feasted recently on White Truffle & Forest Mushroom Pate, Roast Candy Baby Beats (yum!) and Plum Tart Tatin, which comes with a generous scoop of Pistachio & Almond Milk Ice Cream. They get extra marks for having staff who know the menu inside out and are happy to talk you through it. glasrestaurant.ie Also causing quite the stir at 51 Capel Street, D1 is Krewe, which is bringing America’s Deep South to the Northside. Crispy Pork Boudin, Cajun
Blackened Cod and Lamb Belly Po’ Boy are just a few of the Nawleans classics that can be washed down with one of their signature cocktails. The Aged Rum, Maraschino, Pomegranate, Hibiscus, Lime & Muscovado Dixieland is especially tasty. krewe.ie.
THE BEE’S KNEES Fab things we’ve tried recently that you should buy on sight are Olly’s Farm Dublin Honey; Kinsale Head’s Wild Red Mead; Peanut Rayu, a sensory overloading Japanese condiment from Dublin startup White Mausu; and the Slow Roasted Garlic & Thyme sauce made with much love in Wicklow by Porter & Nash. It really is a great time to be an Irish foodie!
I N L I K E F LY N N The winter blues are being well and truly banished at The Tannery in Dungarvan courtesy of the cookery school, overnight stay and shared table dinner packages being offered on Friday and Saturday January 17 & 18 and 24 & 25. Sourdough with Potted Smoked Haddock Cream, Pickled Beetroot & Spiced Sunflower Seeds, and Melting Ox Cheek with Sherry Braised Winter Cabbage are just two of the dishes you’ll get to prep and then demolish. Presided over by celebrity chef Paul Flynn, the per person price of €150 also includes one of their legendary breakfasts. Needless to say, there will be blaas!
(clockwise) Stepping up to the plate at Glas; Krewe’s Crispy Pork Belly Po’ Boy; and we’re peanuts about it!
F E AT U R E
ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES The re-emergence of the Jeff Lynne-led Electric Light Orchestra over the last few years has given any sane pop fan cause to rejoice. He talks about his stunning latest record From Out Of Nowhere, as well as reflecting on a glittering career that’s included producing The Beatles and playing in supergroup The Travelling Wilburys.
I N T E R V I E W : PAT C A R T Y dark glasses. Indeed, it was Lynne The Beatles called when they needed help, but more of that later. Lynne’s From Out Of Nowhere, released under the heading Jeff Lynne’s ELO, to differentiate himself from other versions of the orchestra, is another collection of pop perfection, complete with that patented Lynne sound and requisite UFO on the front. When Go Rail puts it to him that this slab of classic ELO could have come out any time in the last 45 odd years, he takes it as the compliment, which is how it was meant. “That’s great, thank you very much,” says Lynne, down the phone from his LA home. “It’s got the sort of sounds I’ve always made, and the old guitar sound on it I used to like in those days, so you’re probably right. I wanted to
hile in this day and age we might throw the sobriquet of ‘legend’ at any ‘hero’ that makes it back from the bar without spilling the round, Jeff Lynne – the mastermind behind the Electric Light Orchestra, with sales in excess of 50 million records, and more whistleable hits than you could shake a milkman at – surely warrants it. If the point of pop music is to lift the spirits and allow a smile, then he’s one of its masters. But don’t ask me, let’s check with an expert. “Songwriter, singer, drummer, guitarist – you know, he can do it all,” is Paul McCartney’s opinion on the man in the 40
J E F F LY N N E do a more up-tempo album, more optimistic, just more fun, I suppose.” The music of ELO could never be accused of oversimplification, and advances in technology have allowed Lynne to deliver it as it was intended. “Oh yeah it’s much easier, you’ve got enough people in the group to perform it as it should be – we have six harmony vocalists, so I can have always have my three-part harmony in a song, which I could never do in the old days. It’s just perfect, because everyone can cover everything.” ELO originally called it a day back in 1986 after the inessential Balance Of Power album. Lynne had had enough. “I was fed up with the group at that time,” he explains. “I just wanted to disband it and be a producer, be a producer only and not play live gigs. I was lucky enough to start with George Harrison. Then it was Tom Petty, then the Travelling Wilburys, and then Brian Wilson. You know, amazing people. I’d produce them and we’d have great big hits! Platinum albums! I had a marvellous time, and there was no gigs to go with it. You didn’t actually have to go on the road and I just loved making records with great people – and The Beatles!”
“I wanted to do a more up-tempo album, more optimistic, just more fun, I suppose.” Ah yes, The Beatles. John Lennon once called ELO “son of Beatles”, which he meant as a good thing. Lynne first worked with his pal George Harrison on 1987’s smash hit comeback Cloud Nine. When the remaining fabs decided to record some new music for the massive Anthology project in the mid-’90s, they needed a producer after George Martin had to refuse the invitation due to hearing problems. Harrison fought to get Lynne involved, to work up a very basic demo recorded by John at the piano of a song called ‘Free As A Bird’. It must have been some experience for a Beatle maniac like Lynne. “Oh yeah, it was ridiculous,” he says, laughing at the memory. “It was the most nerve-racking thing to start with, because it was called ‘The Beatles’ and all we had was John on a cassette – just his voice and piano in mono, which you couldn’t separate. So I had to build a great big Beatles track to go with it. It had to be kind of impressive or it would be less than we were used to. I had to manufacture all that with those three playing it, and then I had to somehow fit in John, which was very difficult. It was a long process that took me a couple of days to get right. I actually did it around two in the morning, ’cause I didn’t want to look like an idiot if I didn’t get it right. “But anyway, it sounded good and it was in time – the demo was out of time, because when you’re writing a song, you’re just trying to get notes down. To get it in time, I had to do a mathematical equation for all the different phrases and each phrase would be like say three or four words, so I put it into a sampler and flew them into the track, and then left it like that. Paul came in the next day and said, ‘Well done, Jeff! You done it!’ and he gave me a big hug, so I was thrilled.” Paul McCartney is listening back to something you’ve done with John Lennon. Surely you’re thinking, “What am I going to do if he doesn’t like it?” “That was part of the thinking, it was like bliss at some point and...” Fear? “Fear at the other!” 41
While artists like The Beatles and Brian Wilson might look like an obvious fit for Lynne, working with Bob Dylan in late ’80s superstar busman’s holiday, The Travelling Wilburys, appears less so. “The thing is I’d been working with George for a couple of months, and he said, ‘D’you know what? Me and you should have a group.’ I said, ‘What? That’s good. Yeah, I’m in! Who should we have in it?’ And he said ‘Bob Dylan’. Of course, I’m half laughing, but then I realise he’s serious. So I said, ‘Can we have Roy Orbison as well?’ He said ‘Yeah, we’ll have Roy’, ’cause they used to tour together and we both loved Tom Petty. So we said, let’s have him. And of course when it’s George Harrison that’s doing it, it was ‘Do you want to join our group?’ and the answer was ‘Yes’. We did the first album in 10 days, 10 songs in ten days, so that was pretty amazing – the rough tracks, not the finished product.” Alongside the massive success of Travelling Wilburys Vol. 1 (1988), Lynne also worked on Roy Orbison’s fantastic Mystery Girl. There are some songs on the new record one could imagine Orbison tackling. “He could have a go at anything, he had the greatest voice ever,” says Lynne, with obvious affection. “I think I produced three songs on Mystery Girl, and I co-wrote ‘You Got It’ with Roy and Tom, which was his first hit for like 20 years. Roy was thrilled out of his mind, and then there was a phone call early in the morning. ‘Mr. Orbison is dead.’ They hung up before I could get a chance to find out more. It was like six in the morning that call came, so I stayed awake listening to the radio, and sure enough they announced Roy Orbison had died in Tennessee. That was the saddest thing I can remember, but what a wonderful time we had when we recorded together. He was such a lovely guy.” Of all those huge production successes, is it possible for Lynne to point at one as a favourite? “The trouble is that there’s bits of all of them that I love equally, but I think Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever as a whole album,” he reckons. “I have more fun listening to that. There’s so many really good songs, the harmonies are really good, and I love Tom’s voice. I think that’s probably my favourite, but Cloud Nine is right there with it.” • From Out Of Nowhere is out now on RCA.
F E AT U R E
The SECRET HISTORY
Best known as the author of the award-winning Room, Emma Donoghue’s new novel, Akin, tells the story of an elderly man and his wayward grand-nephew, who travel to Nice to explore their family’s past.
I N T E RV I E W: P E T E R M cG O RA N he moment I love is when the first copy turns up,” says Emma Donoghue of the thrill of publication. “Even if it’s just a proof copy, I always hug it, occasionally kiss it. I can’t be contained at that moment. I’m like, ‘Yes, it’s real! They took my words
and made into a book!’” The Dublin-born, Canada-based author – meeting Go Rail today in the cafe of Brooks Hotel – has been publishing bestselling novels for 25 years now. She’s enjoyed phenomenal success in that time, particularly with her 2010 novel Room, which was adapted into an acclaimed film by Lenny Abrahamson (Donoghue herself was Oscar-nominated for the screenplay). However, despite such remarkable achievements, the exhilarating feeling of seeing a finished book has never quite died out for her. “I still get a major thrill,” she continues. “I think it’s because I get so attached to the characters after spending years with them. It sort of feels like I’ve brought them all this way, and now I can let them out into the wild.” We’re talking on the day that Emma’s new novel, Akin, officially gets released in Ireland and the UK. She’s already in publicity mode by this stage, though admits she’ll still have a quick glance at the reviews to see what they say. “I get nervous of them,” she says. “When I saw the first New York Times review, I couldn’t quite bear to open it because I was like, ‘Please don’t lambast me!’ But it was good, so I relaxed. I try not to take reviews too seriously, but certain ones are so influential.” A part of this nervousness comes from the fact that all of Emma Donoghue’s books have been wildly different in terms of setting, genre, tone, and period. Room was a modern-day story told from the perspective of a five-year-old, whereas her last novel, The Wonder, was set in postFamine Ireland. “I’m asking myself, ‘Does anyone have any interest in this story, or that story?’ They’re such an odd collection.” Not that any of this stops Emma when she gets the first real spark of a story in her head. Akin was a novel that had been rattling around ever since she relocated to Nice for two years, where her partner Chris had taken an academic job. “It’s such strange place,” she says. “It’s so pretty and yet it has such a dark history. Multiple invasions. The cannonballs of the Turks are embedded in the walls. The castles were knocked down by the French. The Italians invaded it, then the Germans. All this dark history in such a pretty postcard place. I just thought it would be a great place to set a novel with meaty and dark themes, but with seductive surfaces details.” Akin tells the story of 79-year-old widower Noah, who gets asked to look after his 11-year-old grand-nephew Michael after the boy’s father dies of a suspected drug overdose and his mother serves a
prison sentence. The pair are thrown together just as Noah gets set to embark on a trip to Nice, to explore the history of his grandfather (a famous fictional artist who was a contemporary of Matisse), as well as uncover the truth about his mother, who may have been part of the French Resistance during World War II. Like much of Emma’s best writing, it’s made up of delicate touches and subtle, powerful humour: family members trying to understand each other despite their generational gaps and very different backgrounds. It’s also Emma’s first contemporary novel since Room. “Since about 2000, I’ve alternated between historical and contemporary,” she says. “With historical, I often love drawing on fact, whereas with my contemporary stories, I’m free to make it up and I can do a bit more humour. It’s difficult to make history funny. I like the lightness of touch you can achieve in contemporary novels. Like in this book, you’ve got meaty subject matter, but you can have a chatty, roundabout tone in the writing, so the reader doesn’t realise they’re being pulled into a discussion about ethics, or politics, or their own mortality.” It’s perhaps unsurprising for an author who brought a five-year-old’s world to life so remarkably in Room, but Emma has a striking ability to depict children, and their complex actions and thought processes, in her novels… “But I’m just such a cheat!” she laughs, “because I draw on whatever age my children are. The girl in The Wonder, the boy in Room, they’re all roughly the age that my kids were when I was writing. I was in Nice when my son was seven, then again at 11 – so a lot of conversations with him, any of the ones where he was acting the maggot with me, they ended up in the book.” In Michael’s case, Emma captures the complexity of a youngster in the digital age. “You know they’re a funny generation, because they don’t know much about the world, but because of the internet, they’ve heard of everything. They have this weird, seen-it-all worldliness because of Instagram and things like that. So it’s hard to impress them, because they think they’ve heard it all. But at the same time, they can be shocked by very simple confrontations with the real world. I love exploring that side of children.” Emma has continued to be a hugely prolific writer, dabbling in everything from screenwriting to short stories to plays in recent years. Does she always have the next idea on the go? “I will have my lunch here and start the next thing right after I’m finished,” she smiles. “I just really enjoy writing, so I always have a number of projects on. I’m finishing the next novel as we speak, but I can’t talk about it yet because it hasn’t been sold. I’m always bricking it when I write. To go back to how my books are so different, I always ask ‘Will my publishers want it?’ They don’t fit together in any unique way, but it just makes it more interesting for me. It’s easier to get the words to flow if it’s something that I see as a challenge.”
“I just really enjoy writing, so I always have a number of projects on.”
• Akin is out now, via Picador.
F E AT U R E
THE BOSS WANTS A WORD Stuart Clark joins Bruce Springsteen in London for a special screening of the iconic rocker’s new film Western Stars, in which he once again explores American life to compelling effect.
N 2019, the thing that’s still astonishing
aboutE Bruce Springsteen is his work rate. Since wrapping the E Street Band’s last tour on February 12, 2017 – a globe-straddling 89 date affair that grossed $306.5 million at the box-office – The Boss has published his bestselling Born To Run memoir; performed 160 solo Springsteen On Broadway shows, which spawned a muchwatched Netflix special; scored yet another monster hit with this year’s Western Stars; and turned it into a movie. It’s this “part concert film, part visual album” which finds your humble correspondent sipping a skinny decaf latte in London Soho’s seriously salubrious Ham Yard Hotel at ten o’clock in the morning. Sticking to mineral water is The Boss who’s resplendent in a check shirt, faded jeans, cowboy boots and standard issue James Dean leather jacket. With him is his Western Stars co-director Thom 44
Zimny, a longtime collaborator who cut his teeth editing three seasons of The Wire and also has a Johnny Cash film hurtling down the tracks. The plan of attack is that a motley assortment of European print journalists are going to be treated to a screening of the film followed by a Q+A with Bruce and Thom conducted by broadcaster and über-Boss fan Edith Bowman. Reflecting on his latest creative purple patch, Bruce said recently that, “The book came very organically, and from the book came the play, and from the play came as an extension of tying up the philosophical threads I’ve been working on my whole life, really. As I say in the beginning of the movie, there are two sides to the American character: the solitary side and the side that yearns for connection and community, and I’ve spent a lifetime trying to figure out how to reconcile those two things. “I knew I wasn’t going to go on tour for Western Stars,” he continued, “so I needed another way to connect with fans. I said, ‘Let’s just shoot the whole album from start to finish’,
SLANE 1985: Bruce rocking out with the late Clarence Clemons
which we did.’ So I had the book and then I had the play, and now this film is the completion of that trilogy of work.” Bruce is in ebullient form – is he ever in anything else? – as he greets the chosen media few with a hearty “Hello, early morning movies watchers!” and then takes his seat for what must be his gazillionth gawp at Western Stars. It’s apparent pretty much from the start that the 82-minute film is equal parts Bruce mythologising America’s southwest and demythologising himself. While all of the themes are familiar – “My 19th album and I’m still writing about cars – or the people in them,” he jokes on screen – he’s never spoken with such candour about his relationship with Patti Scialfa who’s rightly credited as the special guest star. As recently rediscovered footage of them honeymooning together in a log cabin plays, Bruce whispers the sweetest of nothings to the woman who’s accompanied him on a massive part of his rock ‘n’ roll adventure. “We’ve been together for a long time, so that’s a lot of experience around the one little microphone,” he tells us after the end credits have rock ‘n’ rolled. “So we bring all of that the minute we lean in. Oh my Lord, there’s the whole 30 years of emotional life together between us. She’s wonderful. If you dig deep down into the centre of the film, she’s there.” The movie performance of ‘Stones’ is notable for not only Bruce and Patti’s swoonsome vocal interplay, but also the tender kiss he plants on the top of her head at the end. “I should have had Patti on the record,” he rues. “That was a big mistake because it’s all about men and women and Patti brings so much.” Quickly followed by his proclamation that, “Love is one of the miracles that God has given us daily proof of ”, it confirms what we already knew, which is that Springsteen is a hopeless romantic. What makes Western Stars different to your average concert movie are the short film introductions to its fourteen songs, which is one more than you’ll find on the original album. Feeling that the ending might otherwise be too downbeat, Bruce came up with the last minute idea of covering ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’, the tune penned
“Love is one of the miracles that God has given us daily proof of.”
by fellow New Jerseyan Larry Weiss and turned into a stonewall American classic by Glen Campbell. It turns out to be a masterstroke worthy of the price of cinema admission alone. “That was just tossed in at the end because, y’know, it was a little on the dark side, which the story was and was not,” Bruce says. “It was a tip of the hat to a lot of my inspiration. ‘Man, we’ve got to do ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’. This isn’t finished until we do ‘Rhinestone Cowboy!’” The original plan to include sound bytes from the 30-piece orchestra and dozen or so other people on stage with him – “They say what a great guy I am and what an honour it is to work with me,” Bruce deadpans – was abandoned after a ‘eureka!’ moment he had whilst sat on the sofa. “One night in front of the television I just started to scribble my thoughts down for each song,” he remembers. “And it was all there. So I ended up with the script that is the voiceover. And then once we had the voiceover, we needed something for it to voiceover. So Thom had some images and we shot a little film during the photo session for the record. We started to play with that: it felt good and then I started to score the voiceover and that got us into this whole other section. Which is really what turned it into a movie rather than just a concert film. It happened very organically and bit by bit. “It was very enjoyable because I got to go inside the songs again, and try to have a deeper understanding of what they were actually about,” he continues. “I was working on a meditation about men and women and love and the difficulty of love and how do you move from being an individual actor into a life that’s filled with people and family and friends and some communal experience. Everybody has to walk that journey. And so the film was a study about what the trip is like. The spoken pieces end up being these little tone poems that lead people into a deeper understanding of the songs.” In keeping with his automotive motif, there are lots of shots of a Stetsoned Bruce behind the wheel. “When in doubt I just get in and drive the car,” he laughs. “‘What are we going to do with this song? Ah, drive the car.’” Among the locations that car gets driven to in Western Stars is the Joshua Tree National Park, a nod of respect, one imagines, to Gram Parsons rather than U2. This might be his first co-directing
“I’ve had a good run over the past ﬁve years as far as feeling really inspired and being really creative. I’ve done things I’ve never done before.”
film credit, but Bruce has spent his entire musical career being cinematic. “When I write in character, it’s a way of exposing your own inner life and struggles,” he proffers. “Whether it’s Nebraska or The Ghost Of Tom Joad or Devils & Dust, those are my little movies that I script out before. Those songs are always suggestive of a visual landscape.” The film’s other special guest star is the century-old barn on Bruce and Patti’s ranch in Colts Neck, New Jersey, where, not for the first time, his family and pals were treated to beers and tunes. “The barn is pretty cool,” he agrees. “It came with the property and we rebuilt the bottom for the horses. The upstairs hasn’t been touched since the late 1800s. It’s just an incredible space. We have our parties and weddings in it and built the little bar that’s up there. It’s not just for the film, that’s actually how we keep it.” There’s a ‘Barn In The USA’ pun to be made, but I shall refrain. Despite visual evidence to the contrary – the odd fleck of grey and fine laughter line aside, he still looks like the young gun that rocked Slane in ’85 – Bruce recently summonsed enough breath to blow out all seventy of his birthday candles. “I’m a man of many talents,” he says of entering his eighth decade. “I write books and Broadway plays and now I’m making movies. I’m going to try and be an astronaut next. I’ll let you know how that goes! I think some of it might have to do with reaching that age where you’re sort of summing up a lot of what you’ve learned and what your life has been. I’ve had a good run over the past five years as far 46
as feeling really inspired and being really creative. I’ve done things I’ve never done before. I feel very lucky because you never know…” Appearing the previous night on a seriously starstudded Graham Norton Show – Robert DeNiro, Sienna Miller, Paul Rudd and, er, James Blunt – Bruce confirmed that next year will be an E Street Band one. “Yeah, yeah, I got to go back to the day job and pay the bills,” he tells Bowman who then asks Bruce what his catalyst is for starting a record. “I just hope I can write something because you always think you’re never gong to write again,” he reveals. “Writing is a mystery. Anything creative remains a mystery. Am I going to ever write another song? Because you often think, ‘I have no ideas.’ I’m wandering around for a year without any ideas or any inspiration and suddenly something comes along and you find another vein in your creative mind that you can tap. For this record it was sort of Southern California/Burt Bacharach/Jimmy Webb. I said, ‘Gee, I’ve never written with major 7th chords. What if I tried to write some songs that had that feeling?’ So you have all these new ideas. Your audience wants you to do two things. They want to feel at home and say, ‘Surprise me.’ You have to do those two things at the same time. I’m lucky to have such a big audience around the world that supports my work. I don’t ever take it for granted. It’s a wonderful thing.” • Western Stars is out now on DVD.
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D E S T I N AT I O N
EGO • A
AN D • S I
Boasting terrific scenery, food and nightlife, San Diego is a true gem of America’s west coast. BY DANE PERSKY
he perfect escape, especially during winter months. San Diego has some of the most agreeable weather in the world. The coldest it gets is only about 15°C, while its hottest temperatures hover around 33°C. Most of the year, it’s somewhere in the middle. The people of Sunny San Diego tend to take life pretty slow as a result of the nice weather, so expect a relaxed atmosphere. In terms of location, San Diego is tucked right in the southwesternmost corner of California, directly
many other places around the world for that matter. Like Los Angeles, San Diego is quite spread out, and though there’s a bus and trolley system, driving will get you to your destination faster every time. If you’re travelling light and looking to save money, there are a host of hostel options available in San Diego, many of which are located along the beach and geared towards the surfer crowd. Airbnb is an option as well – just make sure the place you select isn’t too far from the city. We recommend staying in Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach or Mission Valley: these places are jam-packed with fun
“The people of Sunny San Diego tend to take life pretty slow as a result of the nice weather, so expect a relaxed atmosphere.” bordering Mexico. Tijuana is right across the border and makes a great day trip. If you play your cards right and have a lot of flexibility, you can snag a flight to San Diego from Dublin for as little as €200-250. More typically, though, you’ll be pay around €300 or more, with prices skyrocketing through the €800 mark during the holidays. Luckily, San Diego International Airport is very centrally located, and an Uber, Lyft or taxi will get you to the city in fiveto-10 minutes. To maximise your stay and see as much as possible, you’ll want to rent a car. The unfortunate reality of Southern California is that the public transportation system simply doesn’t hold a candle to Dublin, or
activities. If you’re looking for a hotel, there are some truly stunning options downtown. If you’re looking for spectacular views, La Jolla is also a great place to stay. It’s undoubtedly one of the most gorgeous beachside communities in the city, but be warned: it’s not cheap. Tempting though they may be, try not end up in Encinitas or Carlsbad if you want to fully experience the city. They have beautiful beaches and they’re a joy to visit, but they’re simply too far from all the action. When it comes to food, you certainly won’t go hungry in San Diego! The options are plentiful, and to die for. There are so many hidden gems, most of which won’t 48
D E S T I N AT I O N
“If you’re looking for spectacular views, La Jolla is also a great place to stay.” break the bank, thankfully. Our best advice is to just download Yelp when you arrive and peruse the choices. One essential desination is the Taco Stand – you simply must try Mexican food when you come to San Diego. The Taco Stand is one of the many delicious and inexpensive Mexican joints scattered around the city. There’s one branch in La Jolla and another downtown. Sometimes there’s a bit of a daunting line outside, but trust us, it’s worth the wait. Also well worth worth checking out is Lucky’s Golden Phenix, a breakfast joint in the hip North Park district. They serve a supercheap American breakfast – coffee, juice, pancakes, sausage, bacon, ham, eggs however you want them – and they serve it well. Another great spot is Chez Nous, which given its Scripps Ranch location, might be a little out of your way. But go anyway! It offers one of the best dishes we’ve ever enjoyed: the indescribably delicious Spicy Chicken Melt. Also worth visiting are Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa, which has all the best Asian food in San Diego; TJ Tacos, another great Mexican restaurant up in Escondido; and beloved Californian fast food chain In-N-Out Burger. Turning to nightlife, the Gaslamp Quarter offers a great evening, while Pacific Beach is for those who want to kick back and listen to the waves after a night of drinks and dancing. If you’re looking to see a concert, the Observatory in North Park is a great spot to catch the bigger acts. North Park is one of San Diego’s hippest areas so it’s well worth arriving early and having a walk around if you time allows. To catch some local acts, see if there’s a show at the Ché Café while you’re in town. Situated on UC San Diego’s campus in La Jolla, it’s undoubtedly the best DIY venue in the city. There’s also of plenty of sightseeing to do around the city.
Balboa Park is arguably top of the list – it’s a big, beautiful park with a tonne of museums, gardens and green spaces. If you have kids, go to the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. If you like plants, check out the Botanical Building, and uf you want to centre yourself, go to the Japanese Friendship Garden. As the name suggests, the Old Town is quaint and full of history, and easily accessible via the Old Town Trolley. Also of note is the San Diego Zoo, located right next to Balboa Park. Lesser known though equally cool is the Wild Animal Park. For maritime adventure, head to La Jolla Cove, where there’s swimming, snorkelling, surfing and plenty of other water-based activities on offer. You’ll probably see some seals and sea lions, too! We’d also heartily recommend Little Italy and Torrey Pines State Reserve, the latter offering the city’s best hiking trail. You can hike along the cliffs or take a walk along the beach, or do a mix of the two. It’s great place to visit after a night of gorging on tacos and it offers killer sunsets, too. Torrey Pines also has an awesome glider port, where you can watch hang gliders jet off the cliffs, or strap up with a pro and do it yourself! Don’t miss it. The beach communities of Del Mar, Solana Beach and Encinitas are a bit further north. They all boast great beauty and terrific waves for surfing, and they’re great for picnics. These beach communities are a bit further north. All of them are beautiful. Like almost every beach in San Diego, they offer great waves for surfing, and are perfect for picnics. Finally, the Cabrillo National Monument offers a panoramic view of the city that’s just a stone’s throw from downtown. During low tide, there are also some pretty incredible tide pools along the water in Point Loma. Whatever takes your fancy in San Diego, enjoy to the full! 49
T R A V E L
N E W S Marseille
G O O D A I R D AY S Ryanair has announced that its 2020 summer schedule will include new flights from Dublin to Verona, Marseille, Palanga, a resort town on Lithuania’s Baltic Coast famed for its L-shaped pier, and Podgorica, the Montenegrin capital which is home to some amazing Roman and Ottoman treasures and some Brutalist communistera architecture that’s been positively reappraised in recent years. The carrier is also extending its winter services from Dublin to Toulouse and Billund, the home of Legoland, into the summer months. SWEDE DREAMS Christmas came early for Abba fans on December 6 when Super Troupers: The Exhibition opened in the London O2. The curators are promising “an immersive and at times experiential experience” with a Swedish folk park, full-size Arrival helicopter and a recreation of a superfan’s ‘70s living-room augmenting the vast array of artifacts, photos, videos, interviews, costumes and private letters. theo2.co.uk. PRINCE AMONG MEN Musical theatre fans heading to the Big Apple can feast on In The Company Of Harold Prince: Broadway Producer, Director, Collaborator, a free exhibition running in the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts until March 31. Prince is the much-garlanded man behind such smashes as West Side Story, Fiddler On The Roof, Cabaret, Sweeney Todd and The Phantom Of The Opera. nypl.org. N O F LY Z O N E JMG Cruise’s latest brochure offers an exciting range of “No Fly” cruise itineraries sailing from Dublin, Cobh and new for 2020 - Belfast. Here’s some of our cruising picks from their spring and summer 2020 schedule: 23–Mar ’20 for 14 nights - Azores, Madeira & Portuguese Highlights 13–April ’20 for 11 nights - Treasures Of The British Isles 2–Jul ’20 for 9 nights – Fjordland Splendour 27–Aug ’20 for 7 nights – River Seine Experience.
For our New Year’s resolution, we’re committed to supporting Irish shops and designers in 2020 – and we’re even starting early, by making sure that we buy all our Christmas gifts locally. Here’s a list of some of our favourite Irish designers… BY ROE McDERMOTT
THE FULL IRISH
FA S H I O N
FIONA NUGENT Roscommon born designer Fiona Nugent picked up her love of knitting from her mother and grandmother – a passion and craft passed down through generations. “My parents owned a wool shop in town,” says Nugent. “Both my mother and grandmother were avid knitters, and it’s something I remember having a fascination with from a very young age. I loved knitting in school and was so enthusiastic about it, a primary school teacher once told me I would knit jumpers for a living one day.” Nugent’s lifelong appreciation for textiles, knitting and creating led her to pursue fashion and design in college. “I studied fashion design for my BA in LSAD, Limerick Institute of Technology and after working in industry for several years, I went on to specialise in knitwear. I spent a year in Nottingham Trent University and completed my MA in Fashion Knitwear Design there.” Before Nugent set up her own label, simply called Nugent, she took part in the Santoni Pioneer Programme, a biannual project run by Santoni, a leading seamless knitting machinery manufacturer. “Designers from all over the world are given the opportunity to work one on one with technicians to learn about seamless knitting and to design and produce a capsule collection using this technology,” explains Nugent. “It
was fascinating and gave me a completely fresh insight into other parts of the knitwear industry I hadn’t previously known much about.” When it comes to Nugent’s own work, textile and texture are key, and she aims to create pieces that feel luxurious and comforting, even as their designs remain bold and modern. “I love using really high quality material,” she notes. “So currently, I’m working with 100% merino lambswool. It’s a beautiful yarn with
“With my work, I always try and find a balance of contemporary with traditional.” amazing qualities, from its really soft handle to its ability to regulate the bodies temperature and hypoallergenic nature. When it comes to creating silhouettes, I like to explore texture and see if it can be used to direct the shape and patterns of the design. With my current collection, I worked with blocks of weave and they really lent themselves to creating interesting, staggered hems with some of the pieces.” Nugent is interested in sustainability and creating pieces that will become lasting investment pieces in their wardrobe, so she avoids fast fashion trends in favour of timeless 51
quality. “When it comes to inspiration for textures and colourways, my pieces are more about slow fashion,” she reflects. “So I tend to keep away from trends and just catalogue images that I find interesting. I go into the world and photograph different structures and unusual colour combinations, which I can use as inspiration for textile and future colourway development.” Her most recent collection is bold, modern yet also classic, featuring stunning statement scarves, fitted and long cowls in different weights, colours and reversible designs using 100% merino lambswool; a beautiful yarn renowned for its softness. “The inspiration for my current collection comes from Irish architecture,” says Nugent. “I really love the structure and geometry of these contemporary buildings. I enjoy the duality of the bold, severe shapes against the softness of the knit. With my work, I always try and find a balance of contemporary with traditional. Within this collection, I created bold shapes through hand weave and finished the pieces using crochet hems and seams.” • Nugent is stocked in Marion Cuddy Irish
Designers Emporium, Powercourt Townhouse Centre and Om Diva Boutique, 27 Drury Street. The collection is also available online at fionanugent.com, and you can follow Nugent on Instagram under @nugentluxuryknitwear
FA S H I O N
THE TEMPLE WOLF One of our all-time favourite Irish shops for gifts, jewellery and accessories is The Temple Wolf, an Irish online store filled with irresistible pieces that range from boho chic to gothic glamour. “I describe The Temple Wolf as ‘a store for boho dreamers’ so I try to appeal to the bohemian girl,” explains The Temple Wolf founder and designer Emma Laing. “Think tassels, crystals, coin jewellery, dreamcatchers etc. I choose and/ or design the pieces based on things I always wanted but either wasn’t able to afford, or couldn’t source in Ireland. I have always had a fascination for skulls, pentagrams etc. so you’ll always find a sprinkle of that in the shop! My favourites at the moment are the turbans, chunky amethyst rings and ‘Feminist’ necklaces!” The Temple Wolf features the Eire collection, boasting beautifully delicate jewellery such as necklaces and rings. They have the silhouette of Ireland, with a tiny heart shape cut into the piece. It’s a gorgeous collection that would make the perfect Christmas present for friends and family who now live abroad. “I am Ireland’s biggest fan!” enthuses Laing. “I am one of those annoying people on Facebook who is constantly sharing videos of beautiful scenery in Ireland. I think we have an absolutely stunning country and I can confidently say – after doing very official research all over the world! – that we have the best people too. When I was abroad, I was very proud to tell people that I’m Irish, and when I came home, I began to think about what I could bring back with me to show I was Irish. The Éire necklace was born out of this desire. People seemed to love it and so I began to develop the idea – giving an option for the province your heart would be placed in and expanding the collection to include earrings and rings.” • To browse and buy Emma’s curation of jewellery and accessories, visit TheTempleWolf.com, and she also loves chatting to customers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
TARYN DE VERE Taryn de Vere is an artist, writer and fashion activist living in Donegal – but most importantly, she is possibly the most colourful woman in Ireland. Attracted to joy, unusual materials, upcycling and wearable art, Taryn de Vere is known for making unique jewellery and headpieces. Several of her wearable art pieces are in the collection of the National Museum of Ireland. Her business is run from the family home, “on a hill in Donegal, not far from the sea,” where she lives with four of her five children, who all help in the business. “The shop reflects our family – it’s colourful, quirky, a bit silly and funny,” says de Vere, embraces both challenge and a sense of play, meaning her designs are all truly unique. “I get bored very easily which is why I don’t tend to make exactly the same thing twice,” laughs de Vere. “My stock is ever-changing depending on what new thing I’ve discovered that week and what materials I’m playing with. I love finding random things and thinking about how I could turn them into a piece of wearable art. For example, I’ve used a lot of dog toys in my headpieces, they’re often bright colours and fun shapes. I made an egg boob necklace out of dog toys once and when people hugged me they squeaked. The squeak was an added bonus!” But her work is also inspired by her political beliefs, and she has made head-pieces supporting a variety of causes. “I’m on a mission to make the world more colourful,” says de Vere. “If you’re just dabbling at wearing colour I have something for you – and if you’re a colour fanatic like me, I have something for you too.”
• You can buy Taryn de Vere’s pieces at taryndevere.com and follow her very colourful Instagram account, @taryndevere. 52 52
GO REVIEW R E V I E WS O F T H E L AT E S T A L B U M S , M OV I E S , BO O K S
Beck is in Hyperspace
PA G E 5 5 / / G O L I S T E N
We run the rule over the new albums from Beck, Sorcha Richardson and Lankum. PA G E 5 6 / / G O WAT C H
Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman leads the way in our choice of the best new movies on Netflix. PA G E 57 / / G O R E A D
Ronan Farrow, John Le Carré and Andrea Corr all feature in our book round-up.
B E ST I N SH OW ELLIUS GRACE
We sift through the latest album releases, which include two Irish contenders for Album Of The Year.
LANKUM T H E L I V E LO N G DAY (RIVER LEA)
SORCHA RICHARDSON F I R S T P R I Z E B R AV E RY ( FAC T I O N R E CO R D S )
ith tens of thousands of streams on Spotify, Sorcha Richardson has been releasing indie-pop earworms for years. An LP, though, always remained around the corner. Well, the waiting is over. Recorded over a month in LA with long-term producer Alex Casnoff, First Prize Bravery is about as coherent a debut as you can get. The LP is about the minutiae of relationships and friendships, and what it means to negotiate these whilst on the move between her bases in New York and Dublin. As with any good situational drama, the joy is in the small details. On opener ‘Honey’ – a stripped-back, heart-on-sleeve number – she sings about an encounter with a mysterious “you” that left her questioning everything. Still, it’s the imagery that wins you over: “I watched you move around the room / You’re more magnetic than the moon / That hangs above the balcony / As you make your way back to me.” The joy is that it all works. Every song, in fact, boasts stellar production. So catchy is the title track, it’s easy to overlook how exquisitely constructed it is. As the song commences, Richardson’s echoing vocals gradually emerge into the foreground. Thereafter, the tune folds in layers of acoustic guitars, piano melodies and dreamy synths. Everything, of course, is a foil to Richardson’s voice, which can only be described as laidback liquid gold. It draws you into these personal situations, and lays them out like an open diary, judgementfree. Bravery indeed. This is a superb record.
BECK H Y P E R S PA C E (FONOGRAF RECORDS/ CAPITOL)
n the 25 years since Beck made good, he has been nothing if not interesting, and often quite brilliant. He’s on another winner here. Written and produced with Pharrell Williams, Hyperspace is a more subdued affair than 2017’s Colors. After the Eno-y ‘Hyperlife’, featuring the first of Beck’s superb vocals, ‘Uneventful Days’ continues along slightly ambient lines. It finds our man lamenting either a failing relationship, or the fleeting nature of inspiration. Either way, it’s a great single and sounds as au courant as today’s paper. Which makes the slide acoustic guitar on ‘Saw Lightning’ more jarring, but in a good way. Meanwhile, the acoustic electronica of ‘Chemical’ is inspired, and ‘See Through’ floats away on keyboard waves. The title track features Terrell Hines on vocals, channelling André 3000, with another guest in the form of Chris Martin on ‘Stratosphere’. The latter could pass for one of Coldplay’s better moments. ‘Dark Places’ and ‘Star’ are more variations on the sonics that preceded them. Closer ‘Everlasting Nothing’ brings the acoustic guitar back-up – before the synths overpower – and it goes out with a glorious choral finish. The production and the ever-present keyboards and treatments might sound cold on paper, but this is a warm record, combining the best of analogue and digital. A pretty good trick, but nothing less than you’d expect from the man.
ew contemporary artists epitomise the integrity and authenticity at the heart of great folk music like Lankum. True to the title of their previous LP, the Dublin four-piece’s sound exists somewhere Between The Earth And The Sky – embracing both earthy, human grit and intangible, otherworldly textures. On The Livelong Day the group have re-emerged with a deepened sense of maturity and mortality, culminating in a project of uniquely raw intensity. Lankum’s trademark organic ambience is brought to thrilling, sometimes terrifying, new heights, courtesy of their honorary fifth member, engineer and producer John “Spud” Murphy. Experimental instrumentation and playing include stunning appearances from the harmonium, mellotron, trombone and, most notably on ‘Hunting The Wren’, whatever else happened to be lying around the studio at the time. Capturing the wily anarchy that’s always been an integral aspect of Irish folk music, the group handle inherited songs like ‘The Wild Rover’ and ‘The Dark Eyed Gypsy’ with immense respect – but they are never precious. As with their previous releases, ancient sounds and haunting drones are used as a vehicle to express modern issues and to explore the human condition – with ‘The Young People’, a rousing ballad about suicide, packing a slow-building, but ultimately devastating, blow. Yet, despite fearlessly confronting these darker moments of our past and present, there’s also a deep, resounding love encased within the music throughout the album – with Radie Peat’s tenderly earthy vocals embodying the Irish landscape and people to stunning effect. A remarkable and urgent reminder to celebrate the livelong days. Long live Lankum.
WAT C H
GAN G STER WRAP Roe McDermott selects the best new films on Netflix over Xmas and the New Year, with Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed mob drama The Irishman leading the way. THE IRISHMAN
While Scorsese’s new film The Irishman, adapted from Frank Sheeran’s much-questioned memoir, tackles many of the director’s beloved themes such as power, corruption, loyalty, and guilt, The Irishman is propelled by an awareness of time, mortality and growth. As elderly Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) recounts his decades-long relationship with mob boss Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) and union leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), Frank’s almost-deathbed ruminations feel like the preoccupations of a man Scorsese’s age. The director reckons with the questions that emerge from a lifetime in America, and a concept of masculinity that emerged from military life: be taciturn, be loyal, kill your enemies, never express feelings about it. Is it any wonder, Scorsese asks in this suitably icy film, that these men returned from war to lives filled with efficient violence, disposable relationships, and self-serving quests for money and power? The three leads put in superb performances. Caught between two powerhouses’ loyalties and agendas, De Niro has rarely been better, bringing a quiet stoicism to Frank, a man trying to do what he was told made a man. Though too long, the film is still a powerful, melancholic character study of loneliness and old age – but never quite remorse.
Marriage Story captures not just the complexity of how a relationship ends in divorce, or what people learn about themselves while detangling their lives; it examines the divorce-industrial complex itself, and the ruthless process that often compounds division and heartbreak. Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver star as Nicole and Charlie, an actress and theatre director with a young son. Nicole has instigated the split. A once-sought after It Girl who sacrificed fame and much of her creative voice to work in Charlie’s experimental theatre company, she feels stifled, lost and resentful. Charlie, whose controlling nature springs from oblivious selfishness rather than malicious intent, reacts to the divorce like most things in life: with the naively arrogant belief that things will work out for him. Director Noah Baumbach balances our sympathies brilliantly. We identify with Charlie’s slow-burning realisation that divorce is brutal, and that his life will never be the same. But Nicole’s tour-de-force confessions and conversations with her celebrity divorce lawyer (Laura Dern, sublime) reveal the layers of deeply gendered pain that Charlie’s cultivated cluelessness has caused. Nicole’s actions in divorce hurt Charlie; but his inaction in love hurt her. The superb lead performances and the story’s emotional wreckage are balanced by the consistent comic genius of Baumbach’s screenplay, and the brilliance of every supporting role. Exquisite, scorching and utterly humane.
In Brady Corbet’s audacious, explosive and knowingly ridiculous Vox Lux, Natalie Portman embraces and elevates the persona she created during her hilarious SNL rap sketch, playing a swaggering, mercurial pop star diva. After surviving a school shooting and writing a heartfelt ballad about the tragedy, the 14-yearold Celeste (initially played by Raffey Cassidy) becomes an overnight sensation, instantly plunged into the world of fame and excess. Not that she resists, but what teen can process that level of both trauma and media attention without becoming lost? And what nation? As Celeste becomes internationally famous, she ceases to be a person to the press and her fans, instead becoming a cipher and metaphor – which is where Portman comes in, replacing Cassidy’s quiet performance with one of exaggerated indulgence. The adult Celeste is all excess – constantly covered in glitter, her New York accent almost a pantomime, expressing every emotion under the sun in 10 seconds. Selfish, abrasive and needy, she’s all toddleresque id. She has explosive, sobbing temper tantrums before being asked to publicly provide insight into mass violence highlights – a process that reveals the absurdity of this sort of fame, and how it simultaneously spotlights and erases people. A fascinating, darkly funny, operatic examination of fame, in Vox Lux, Corbet’s philosophy echoes Celeste’s: “You wanted a show. I’ll give them a show.”
B ROU G H T TO BOOK Ronan Farrow’s explosive story of abuse and cover-up in the American entertainment industry; John Le Carré’s latest whipsmart thriller; and Andrea Corr’s memoir are all on our reading lists this winter.
C ATC H AND KILL
AGENT RUNNING IN THE FIELD
RO NA N FA R ROW
JOHN LE CARRÉ
( L I T T L E , B ROW N A N D C O M PA N Y )
In 2017, a routine network television investigation led Ronan Farrow to a story only whispered about: one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers was a predator, protected by fear, wealth, and a conspiracy of silence. As Farrow drew closer to the truth, shadowy operatives, from high-priced lawyers to elite warhardened spies, mounted a secret campaign of intimidation, threatening his career and weaponising an account of abuse in his own family. Catch And Kill is the untold story of the exotic tactics of surveillance and intimidation deployed by wealthy and connected men to threaten journalists, evade accountability, and silence victims of abuse. It’s also the story of the women who risked everything to expose the truth and spark a global movement.
John Le Carré’s latest novel revolves around an agent recently returned to London called Nat, who gets ensared in a web of intrigue encompassing Russian influence and Britain’s relationship with America. The author’s intention is to give two fingers to Brexit and Trump. Ed, who makes a badminton challenge at Nat’s beloved local club, becomes central to the whole affair. What is Jericho? Are Nat’s superiors corrupt? What’s the connection with Agent Pitchfork? And what about Valentia, the pride of Moscow centre, who appears to be chasing a big British fish? This cleverly current caper rattles along at a fine clip, with the requisite twists and turns, before reaching a satisfying end. Le Carré gives the impression that he could knock this kind of stuff out in his sleep, but that’s because he is the master.
BAREFOOT PILGRIMAGE – A MEMOIR ANDREA CORR
Dealing with everything from her childhood upbringing in Dundalk, to the devastation at the passing of her father, to her travails in the music industry with her siblings, Andrea Corr’s memoir is an oddly lyrical, sometimes stream-ofconsciousness, work of brilliance. Written as a series of poetic confessionals, Corr’s writing brings religion, mortality and family to the fore. She also weaves in poetry (her father’s as well as her own), and shares archive photographs from her family’s history. Sweet, sad, but ultimately inspiring, Andrea’s story isn’t just one that diehard fans of The Corrs will enjoy. It’ll ring true to anyone who has ever dealt with the complexities of familial loss.
AMBER SPRINGS HOTEL
GO RAIL COMPETITION
W IN 2 NI GHTS B & B AT THE
AM BER S P R ING S H OTE L F O R A FA M ILY O F F OUR I N AN AMBER FAMI LY SUI TE To celebrate the launch of their fantastic January Sale, which is going live on December 26 – where you can save up to 20% off your next stay – the 4-star Amber Springs Hotel in Wexford are offering this very special prize. After receiving the warmest of welcomes, you will enjoy the most comfortable of stays as you relax and unwind. Only an hour from Dublin, the beautiful, family-run Amber Springs – voted Best Family Friendly Hotel in Ireland – is located in the bustling town of Gorey in the Sunny South-East. Just minutes from miles of sandy beaches, Amber Springs is perfect for your holiday getaway. Amber Springs' kitchen truly brings its food from farm-tofork, as much of the produce is nurtured and grown naturally on the Redmond Family Hotel not far from the hotel. The mouthwateringly delicious, award-winning menu is served in the Farm Steakhouse, the Farina Italian Garden Restaurant, the BBG restaurant, and Kelbys Bistro. For a relaxing drink, meanwhile, you can check out the Terrace Bar. The Amber Springs Hotel also offers numerous activities for children, including a playground, mini-golf and go-karting. In addition, the indoor Play Zone has a ball pool, a huge climbing frame, and the 80-seat Showtime cinema. Adults can enjoy beauty treatments in the Cocoon Spa, whilst Club Amber Leisure boasts an 18-metre swimming pool with an attached pool for kids, as well as a sauna, hot tub and fitness studio.
THE PRIZE: The winner of the Go Rail competition will enjoy 2 nights B&B for a family of 4 2+2 in a fantastic amber family suite. To enter simply email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your contact details, and let us know on which train route or at which station you picked up your copy of Go Rail.
THE QUESTIONS: 1. What was the name of The Script’s latest album?
2. The Irish Women’s Hockey Team qualified for which competition this year?
3. Who won this year’s All Ireland hurling title?
- Sunsets & Full Moons - There’s Always The Sun - Here Comes The Sun
- European Championships - World Championships - 2020 Olympics
- Kilkenny - Tipperary - Galway
Terms & Conditions: The prizes are subject to availability. No cash alternatives will be offered. Entrants must be aged 18+. Go Rail may contact competition entrants with details of future special offers. Your details won’t be passed on to any third party. Please specify in your email if you would like to opt out of this.
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