Monday, 26 November 2012

Dara O'Briain at The Apollo- published in The Irish World

It’s a long way from children’s TV in Ireland that Dara O’Briain has come. These days he is spending considerably less of his time doing “make and do” and a lot more filling London’s Hammersmith Apollo. Leah Quinn went along to see his new show – “Craic Dealer”.


It seems on this side of the pond Dara O’Briain can do no wrong as he continues to pop up on our TV’s in shows about everything from boats to Mathematics.


The British seem to have truly embraced this gentle giant which seems odd when you compare his success to other Irish comedians such as Des Bishop and Andrew Maxwell, who have done well but are in no way taking complete control of our air waves.


His continued success puzzles me even more after this latest disappointing gig as from start to finish I found it to be heavily lacking in imagination. In fact it became apparent that it is hard to pin point or recognise O’Briain’s own authentic comedic style which can only make you wonder if there is any at all.


His comedy is safe, inoffensive and at times delving slightly too far into the blatantly obvious.


Throughout the show his gags seemed as if they may have come from someone else and yet with his charm and talent for timing he managed to deliver them effectively and more often than not receive a hearty reception.


His reliance on the audience to provide some sub standard jibes was hugely over done as he made school boy type comments about their names, professions and spouses.


It was even a fan of the comedians that came up with his shows title, which O’Briain freely admitted but which in no way aided his persona as a creative entertainer.


O’Briains comedy will never excite like that of Spike Milligan nor inspire philosophical follies like the work of Tommy Tiernan or Dylan Moran but he fits nicely into the family friendly niche that many seem to enjoy.


However if you like your comedy fresh, risky and bursting with opinion then perhaps have your funny bone tickled elsewhere.

Declan O’Rourke Review- Published in The Irish World 22/09/12

Let’s face it when you go to a gig you hope at the very least to enjoy the music, anything else is just a bonus.

Declan O’Rourke’s gig last week in The Leicester Square Theatre delivered to the audience so much more than a few cheerful tunes and proved that O’Rourke is far from a one trick pony,  and more of a Grand National stallion in entertainment.

O’Rourke gently guided his audience through nearly every human emotion available with his soulful music and endearing use of his own honest blend of humour.

The intimate venue added to the relaxed ambiance of the evening with its old style theatre seating and rustic red curtained surroundings, into which O’Rourke fitted comfortably.

Each of his songs made different but affective impacts on the audience as before each one he told of their back stories and relevance to his life.

A lot of these stories were highly entertaining and at times hilarious which allowed the audience to feel as though O’Rourke was more like an extremely modest best friend that had called round for a chat than that of an elitist songwriter distant from those beyond the stage spotlights.

Songs such as Whatever Else Happens and Marrying the Sea brought an emotional silence to the theatre which was delivered so soothingly I’m nearly convinced I heard a tear drop fall.

While his others songs such as Lightning Bird Wind River , in which he used a ukele, and Your World got the audience off their seats fondly singing along.

It also was not difficult to see why his song writing has a large celebrity following such as Paul Brady, Gary Lightbody, Ronnie Wood and Paul Weller who once said of all the songs in the world it is Declan O’Rourke’s Gallileo that he wished he had written.

Gallileo is a real classic that uses poetic lyrics which you can’t help but stop and respect.

Based on this performance I am of the opinion that O’Rourke is somewhat of a hidden gem, his talent cannot be compared or likened to that of anyone else and on top of his great musical ability he also seemed like a hugely likeable character.






The Cranberries at The Apollo- published in The Irish World 13/10/2012

After a six year vacation from the life of rock and roll, The Cranberries have returned to the stage. Leah Quinn went to see them in London’s Hammersmith Apollo, and tells how The Cranberries can still very much rock out with the best of them.


Up there with your Irish Mammy’s brown bread and hurling, The Cranberries have always been intrinsically Irish.


They cannot be compared to or copied as it was obvious to anyone with a pair of ears and a radio back in the nineties that they held a sound all of their own which not only showcases haunting Celtic melodies but also the musical talent that Ireland continues to produce.


Flash forward to the present day in 2012 and they can still put on one hell of gig.



Although their media presence has been near to non-existent the last ten years, with their six year departure and delayed album promotion, due to the sudden death of Dolores O’Riordan’s father, it was evident that they still maintain a loyal and passionate fan base.


Their latest album, Roses, of which many songs featured quite a bit in the Apollo, was realised on Valentines Day of this year but did not receive the response it deserved as promotion was put on hold.


This is a pity as many of these songs were quite fresh and contemporary but seemed to still remain true to the bands authentic sound.


O’Riordan, who is now a mother of three and in her forties, was just as much the rock chick as ever, holding an energetic and captivating performance from start to finish.


Her energy was in turn shared by the crowd who,  with myself included, heartily sang along to many of the old favourites such as Salvation, Zombie and You and Me.


Although O’Riordan’s inclusion of her own solo and their latest album’s hits received less of a sing-a-along from the crowd they still seemed to make a powerful impression on everyone there, drawing both respectful silences and huge cheers.


In between songs O’Riordan either quickly changed into yet another impressiv rock star-esque ensemble or modestly chatted to the crowd about the meaning behind their songs with her infamous endearing Limerick accent still wholly intact…” Ah sure it’s great to be back lads…”


It has been twenty three years since the band first formed in Limerick and judging by this latest performance not much has changed in terms of their determination and strength of performance for their fans.


From start to finish the band gave the crowd their monies worth and more ensuring every note and drum beat was felt and delivered with bucket loads of enthusiasm.


If you were a fan back in the nineties but have since been led astray by more contemporary rock bands, I appeal to you to revisit your old flame at their next live gig and fall back in love with The Cranberries.


Damned by Despair- published in The Irish World

The London National Theatre is currently showing Frank McGuinness’s version of Damned by Despair until October 19th.

Written by the Spanish dramatist Tirso de Molina back in the 17th century, the award winning Irish playwright’s take on this gang culture filled drama definitely arouses some curiosity.

The story itself is a pious one which aims to teach the audience a lesson in faith and its benefits to us in this life and the next, centring around two very different characters, Enrico and Paulo.

Paulo is a devout monk who has dedicated every inch of his life to living in accordance with the ten commandments when he asks god for an indication as to what will follow his demise.

The devil, disguised as an angel, answers Paulo and tells him that his end will match that of Enricos.

 Paulo seeks out this infamous individual with whom he shares his fate and discovers he is a vicious criminal destined only for the hot fires of hell.

 Naturally,after years of behaving himself, this enrages Paulo and he turns to a life of crime himself, rebelling against the god he believes has betrayed him.

 McGuinness delivers this version with a contemporary flavour, featuring retro t-shirt wearing goons and a cappuccino drinking Satan, in a style which could be acquainted to that of Baz Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet.

 While it is possible to see where McGuiness was going with this style of theatrical delivery it felt a little unoriginal on stage. This may have been mostly due to the bad casting as some of the actors brought little weight to their quite heavy roles.

 Enrico, who was played by Bertie Carvel, was a prime example as his quite camp portrayal of a very macho and threatening main character dragged the whole performance down quite a bit.

 His quite effected and at times quite feminine delivery, made Enrico, who’s every move was expected to make us cower in our theatre seats with fear, look less like the Satan’s ideal companion and more like a member of your local church choir. 

 This wasn’t helped by an unfortunate onstage prop malfunction when Enrico was clad in heavy prison chains chasing his girlfriend around a cell…only to become unshackled and free shouting “If only I could be free of these chain!”…a mishap that left the audience in fits of laughter and the plays ending in an unconvincing heap.

 There were however some enjoyable moments and glimpses of potential theatre magic, the majority of which came from Irish actor Rory Keenan who played Pedrisco, Paulo’s servant.

 Keenan, who has just finished in Brian Friel’s Philadelphia Here I Come in the Donmar, provided the audience with most the laughs as his expert timing once again shone through.

 Also the inclusion of a child soprano actor as the singing shepherd sent shivers penetrating through the tiers.

 Although the playwright’s background differed in many ways to that of McGuinness’s their similarities most likely lie in the affect of extreme faith on an individual or community. This was perhaps why McGuinness took on such a project being brought up a Catholic in county Donegal.

 However not enough pieces of this version’s puzzle fit neatly enough together to make any sort of theatrical impact on the audience and judging by the abundance of empty seats in the second half, it also left far too many disappointed.

My Complicated Relationship with Ryanair

Published in The Irish Times online September 12th 2012

After three years living abroad, Leah Quinn has yet to perfect the art of packing light. She writes from London about her experiences flying with Ryanair to and from her home in Clare and how it has impacted heavily on both her wallet and blood pressure.

Leah Quinn: "My pre-flight time is spent filling my pockets with as many of my worldly possessions as I can fit." Photograph: Marcus Culloty
Having lived abroad several times, and now holding an address in London, Ryanair has become my most common mode of transport to and from my home in Clare. Over the past few years, I have contributed generously to the company’s profits, due to the copious amounts of money they have taken off me for my overweight bags.
I would have been of the opinion that my bags were never really overweight, just rather big-boned, but my flying experiences have recently resembled scenes from the Bourne Identity.
Gone are the days when I sat in the lounge calmly flicking through a magazine and chewing fruit gums. Now my pre-flight time is spent filling my pockets with as many of my worldly possessions as I can fit whilst trying to get my carry-on bag to suck in its tummy.
I can honestly say that I have never committed a crime in my life, except for stealing Barbie clothes from my cousin’s collection as a six-year-old; I believe my conscience to be pretty clear. But when I am walking the green mile towards the departures door I may as well have the original copy of the Mona Lisa in my back pocket, given my rapid heart rate.
This intense game of good versus evil all begins when I book my ticket, as I try to purchase my flight without being tricked into ticking a box which might add on charges for golf clubs, kiddie’s meals or oxygen.
The preparation for the actual journey begins the night before, or whenever I decide to pack, but I find when tackling Ryanair, preparation is key. My bag is packed, unpacked, and re-packed, I then weigh it on the bathroom scales and decide to change bags.
This process alone is exhausting and often leaves me considering the ferry, though the prospect of sea sickness always quickly dismisses that thought from my anxious mind.
Then comes the check-in desk. I sometimes think more eye contact the better, but it really seems to depend who you get on the day. I try to elicit some empathy, to get them to understand my need for a GHD or collection of heavy bangles.
As he/she asks me to put my bags on the conveyor, I give an over-enthusiastic “Oh yes no problem”…my last attempt at becoming their long lost best friend. When the numbers begin to tot up I continue to hold their stare with a perhaps creepily intense smile, hoping they might forget that my bag is being weighed.
Then, more often than not, comes the news that my bag is too fat to travel, and that if I wish it to accompany me on my voyage I must pay the piper. On handing over this money my smile mutates into gritted teeth.
I imagine Michael O’Leary throwing his head back with laughter at Leopardstown and shouting “Another €50 on Terms and Conditions to win, Leah’s bag is overweight again!”
I shuffle away ashamedly pulling my wheelie carry-on behind me like a scolded child, often looking back at the stewardess bitterly as I climb the escalator.
Then the real fun begins.
I join the queue of nervous travellers and subsequently start to lose my sense of self pride as I stuff my iPod, purse, UK and Irish mobiles, make-up bag, book, sunglasses and random items of clothing into my coat pockets. As we get closer to the departure door, that enthusiastic smile begins to creep back onto my face.
I quickly hand over my passport and boarding card as I try to make the swiftest of exits whilst also attempting to conceal my carry-on behind my bulging pockets. I am usually spotted and asked to lift my second bag onto the scales.
Then comes the real moment of shame as the rest of the queue are forced to wait for the result which ends in another fee payment or a scramble on the airport floor to rearrange my bag, as under-garments and high heels are flung about the place in desperation.
All that is left then is to try and doze off in my plane seat and forget the whole ordeal, but the staff are eager to keep me alert with their offers of food, drinks, ring tones and smokeless cigarettes.
Even though these experiences continue to punctuate my life, I will hold my tongue for now and continue to suffer for the sake of that extra pair of heels or my winter coat.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Interview with Irish Band "Heathers"- published in The Irish World

Irish band Heathers first came to the public’s attention in 2008 when their melodic song Remember When, featured on the Bord Failte television advert.

Since then the Dublin, Ellie and Louise McNamara have evolved as singers and songwriters with already a big following in the States.

The duo’s second album, Kingdom, was recorded in a music studio in Camden and features new poppy and electric rhythms.

The production of this new album differs greatly from their last which was recorded mainly in their friend’s bedroom.

Many of their songs have been used on television series, one o which being the new BBC series of Waterloo Road.

One half of this talented twosome spoke to the Irish World about their up and coming album, their growing maturity as artists in the music world, and the equal love they share for both Dublin and London.

Your first album was made while you were studying for your Leaving Certificate, does that mean you had more time to spend on this album?
Louise McNamara:

“We wrote Here Not There in 2007 when we were 17. We released that in 2008 and re-released it in 2010, so we have had since 2008 to write this album though most of it was written last summer. We have had a lot more time to work on this album. I think we have matured a lot in general and in terms of song writing and ability.

What was the inspiration for your second album?
I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s a distinct inspiration for it. In general for our music I wouldn’t name off an artist that would be a complete inspiration. It was just a kind of a progression from the last album. We’ve always wanted to play with more musicians as Here Not There was just myself and Ellie, an acoustic guitar and a cello. On this second album we worked with two musicians over in London and they played with numerous instruments.

This album, Kingdom, is more poppy. You can definitely tell its Heathers, it still has the harmonies and melodies that we write. It’s a bit more dancey and a lot more electric.

Was it all recorded in London?
We recorded it all in London last September with a guy called Max Jingle who worked with White Lies, Glasvegas and the Killers. We were over there until December. Here Not There was recorded in our friend’s bedroom so it was a big jump to go from that to a massive studio, but it was a really great experience and we had the most amazing time.

Any plans to relocate to London?
We love travelling and going to different countries. We’d love to relocate to London. Right now we are doing so much over here, there’s a great music scene over there as well as here in Dublin.

The first single Forget Me Knots that you released from your new album is quite upbeat but seems to deal with feelings of despair, what inspired this song?
We wrote that song for a friend of ours who died two years ago. It’s a song about getting a message out to people of all ages that it’s alright not to feel okay. There’s such a stigma attached to depression people need to know that they are not out there
on their own. It’s quite upbeat but it does deal with quite a serious subject. It is one song on the album that means the most to myself and Ellie.

What has the reaction so far been to that single?
The reaction so far has been brilliant. We made a music video for it with Hugh O’Connor and put it up online and there is over 20,000 views on that already. We are looking forward to people hearing the rest of the album. So far it’s been fantastic.

Heathers new album “Kingdom” is set for release on September 7th.

Irish Woman is New Face of Lingerie Brand- published in The Irish World

A Corkonian mother of two has been chosen from thousands by a leading lingerie brand to represent “real women in their new campaign.

Rebecca Barrett from Ballydehob is the only Irish woman out of the ten selected from across the UK and Ireland to appear in the big-budget Ultimo campaign.

Rebecca,35, applied via Twitter when the brand launched a search earlier this year.

The aim of the campaign is to celebrate the figures of normal women by featuring ladies with natural curvy bodies in the brands lingerie.

Rebecca’s picture will soon be seen across Debenhams stores across the UK and Ireland.

Rebecca said; "I have gained some confidence in myself and I'm starting to believe in myself. I loved being pampered and feeling special. I loved posing for the photos, I loved the look they gave me. I actually felt good in my own skin. I honestly cant wait to see the pictures. I'm a mom, I take my kids to school, clean the house, cook the dinner, I host mother foreign students during the summer, so my time is all used up on other people...I don't get pampered often.”

The winners were treated to a celebrity-style fashion shoot with photographer Dan Kennedy, as well as royal treatment from make-up artists, stylists and lighting experts.

The UK designer lingerie brand is known for its previous high-profile celebrity ambassadors such as Luisana Lopilato, Mel B and Sarah Harding.

Creator of Ultimo, Michelle Mone said:”I love the Ultimo Real Women
campaigns, its gives us the opportunity to showcase some of the beautiful ladies out there who otherwise might not get the chance to model lingerie.”

"The campaign has always had a charity element so this year we have two charity winners included. Since the campaign started we have raised an incredible £120,000 for charities including Breast Cancer Care, Cash for Kids and Children with Lukemia.""

Ted Review- published in The Irish World

This may come as a shock to many people…but I don’t find The Simpsons funny. I know all about their various celebrity cameos, the slap-stick tension between Bart and his doughnut-loving father, and Marges blue hair, but it has never managed to exert me into a raving fit of laughter.

Family Guy on the other hand, certainly does the trick. I find Seth Macfarlane’s humour, although often offensive to the more sensitive type, to be quick-witted and highly observant of life’s everyday abnormalities.

That said, when I heard that the Family Guy creator had now applied his talents to film making, and one which featured a cuddly teddy bear no less, I was more than enthusiastic to see if it transferred successfully to the silver screen.

Ted, was released on August 1st and tells the story of a lonely little boy who grows up in Boston finding it difficult to make friends. When he receives a teddy bear for Christmas one year he makes a special wish that his new furry friend will come to life and ,hey presto, the next morning Ted is born and subsequently scares the stuffing out of the little boys parents.

We are then shown the boy much later in life, when he is now a grown man, played by Mark Wahlberg, living with what has become his alcoholic, (bong smoking- enthusiast) grown up teddy bear.


Predictably, hilarity ensues and as John Bennett’s (Wahlberg) relationship with girlfriend Lori, played by Mila Kunis, starts to develop, his long relationship with Ted begins to buckle under the strain.

Seth Macfarlane was the writer, director and voice of Ted which is bound to delight his many loyal fans. Having said that, if you are not a fan of Family Guy you could still find cause to chuckle as Ted presents cinema audiences with a new fresh kind of honest comedy, far from the monotonous unskilful Adam Sandler movies that seem to be on constant mass release.

Ted was a hit with American audiences already and I’m confident it will do the same here. Whether you are in need of some funny bone tickling or are just hungry for a fresh take on comedic cinema this is certainly one that like Ted himself, could have you in stitches.

Irish Investors Pull Out of London High Street Properties- published in The Irish World

The economic crisis and its effects have caused many Irish investors to sell on their share in properties on some of London’s most fashionable streets.
Irish investors once owned a significant share in some of the city’s most sought-after properties but hefty debts at home in Ireland have caused them to part with their shares according to a recent report from commercial property consultants CBRE.
A huge decline in Irish shares over the past year in the London property scene differs greatly to previous years during the Celtic Tiger boom.
Bond Street and Oxford Street remain the city’s most lucrative areas for investment and London’s busiest streets had 90pc of their property sold last year by Irish investors, according to the report.
This is a huge jump from the mere 20pc of Irish that were involved in the sale of some of Europe’s most prestigious retail street properties in 2009.
Since then, Irish investors have sold £1.2bn worth of assets on the well-known shopping streets.
Today, the mix is changing and you are seeing different kinds of buyers entering the market, particularly from wider parts of the globe,” says Anthony Selwyn, director of central London research at Savills property group.
Some of the properties involved were destined to be put up on the market by certain investors in order to remedy their growing bank debts in Ireland.
"The West End retail properties sold by Irish investors in the last 18 months have been some of the most valuable in central London," said Phil Cann, of CBRE.
He added that “More often than not, the disposals are cross-collateralised with poorer performing assets within investor portfolios; however, these transactions should not undermine the impressive returns earned by investors in key London locations.”
Irish investors featured in 10 out of the 11 property transactions on Bond Street in 2011, and half of all transactions stemming from Oxford Street.
The value of Irish related sales in commercial property on the streets totals 94pc according to the findings, a huge jump from the 50 pc in 2010 and 38pc seen in 2009.
Last year Irish sellers were involved in the sale of properties housing Cartier Ltd, Daks and Prada on Bond street and McDonalds, French Connection, New Look and Russell and Bromley on Oxford Street, to name only a few.
The busy streets have seen Irish developers such as Charlie McCreevy, Joe Donnelly, David Daly, the Brennan Family, and Paddy Mckillen come and go.
Perhaps during the boom this monetary inspired invasion was a pay back for past experiences in Ireland.
London’s prestigious Cartier and Prada stores were sold by Irish investors for £50million.
The Prada store was sold to a Thai buyer for £23million while JP McManus and Aidan Brooks received around £18 for their Cartier store on Old Bond Street.
Anglo Irish Bank and Dublin-based asset managers, Wealth and Property Solutions Ltd (WAPS) sold a high profile retail building in Oxford Street for £76 million last year.
The multi-let building at Sedley Place on Oxford Street was bought for £69 million in 2005 from London Corporation inclusive of stamp duty, VAT and fees.
Last year Kieran Gaughan, managing director of WAPS, told The Irish Times that by holding the building through the depths of the financial crisis in 2008/2009 they managed to deliver rental growth from a number of rent reviews, letting vacant space and enhancing the investment value.
Last week saw Irish developer McKillen lose his long-running legal battle with Barclay Brothers over his share in some of London’s most high-end hotels.
The Belfast- born developer went up against the billionaire brothers, NAMA, and Derek Quinlan in an attempt to take control of Coroin, the company owned by the brothers responsible for Claridge’s, the Connaught and Berkeley hotels.
The Irish investors may now turn their sights to a more frugal property investment with derelict houses on Bond Street (in Staffordshire, England) being sold for the less risk bearing nominal fee of just £1 this week in an attempt to inspire reinvigoration in the area.
If investors pulling out of the London version of the street are counting their pennies, yet still feeling the urge to invest, this lesser-known option may prove more realistic.

The Irish Abroad- "craics" showing in our good reputation

Traditionally known for our intrinsic love of ‘the craic’, it seems the Irish have recently been gaining notoriety abroad for very different reasons and lacking the one thousand welcomes we so often extend.

An Irish man was arrested and charged last Tuesday in Darwin, Australia, for the drunken assault of a local Politician.

John Elferink had been speaking to camera at the time about the need for tougher laws on alcohol-fuelled violence, which is currently on the rise in their city, when an Irish youth appeared to kick him in the leg.

A video of the altercation has been viewed by thousands online after an uncomfortable tackle to the ground, ended with the politician’s plea to change the laws in Australia’s Northern territory: “so these sorts of morons don’t get an opportunity to do those sorts of things.”

Followed closely behind this incident was the Sydney Morning Herald and Brisbane Times account of the Irish support at Katie Taylor’s matches.

An Aussie journalist used descriptions such as “For centuries, Guinness and whiskey have sent the Irish off their heads. Now all it takes is a petite 26-year-old from Wicklow.”

The crassly-written piece which continued to include both the words “potatoes” and “fighting Irish” was met by an extreme reaction.

Noel White, the Irish Ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, wrote a stern letter of complaint to Fairfax Media.

The Irish Times reported that Mr. White referred to the article as “disappointing” and continued that “references to intoxication and to named drinks are inappropriate and beneath the standard that one expects of Fairfax Media”

However, it is not only down under that the Irish have gathered a bad reputation, here in London The Irish World reported last month that an Irish Landlord was no longer renting rooms in his Cricklewood property to Irish tenants.

The landlord said drunken behaviour by Irish tenants had got so bad it caused widespread problems for other residents.

“I threw out two lads last week but when I came to check the rooms they had stolen all the bed clothes.”

In the same month an “anti-IRA” march took place in Liverpool led by an English Defence League.

The march targeted a local Irish group called the James Larkin society who denied any involvement in IRA activity.

However the more positive stories do not seem to resonate so strongly in our memories.

In a sharp contrast, Ireland received a visit from Poznan’s mayor last month opening an exhibition featuring photos from Euro 2012.

During an open meeting with soccer fans in a bar on Merrion Row, the mayor said:

I am proud that all European fans, especially the ones from Ireland, felt so good and safe in Poznan, and I would like to say big thank you to all of them by bringing those beautiful images of themselves supporting their national colours in Poznan.”

We think it’s safe to say that Poznan’s mayor did not receive any kicks to the shins.

Similarly it was the Irish supporters at this year’s London Games that seemed to make the most notable impression with a report from the Guardian saying: “The roars from the arena were deafening when the score went up: 7-5 to Ireland – that's all of Ireland, not just their representative in the ring. No Irish athlete walks alone.”

Irish boxing fans helped set a new Olympic record for noise levels at Katie Taylor’s quarter-final.

BBC presenter, Hazel Irvine also said: "Welcome to all our friends from Ireland,” while presenting at the games.

These positive examples did not hold the nations attention quite so intently.

An accomplished traveller, Brendan Behan once said
“It's not that the Irish are cynical. It's rather that they have a wonderful lack of respect for everything and everybody.”

However, that particular opinion was most likely aimed at seeking a reaction than any sort of relevance as Behan’s admiration for his Irish natives is hugely evident in his work.

Like any nation, we have our fair share of good and bad. Unfortunately the bad tend to hold passports as well and often are more preoccupied with drunkenly climbing palm trees in Oz then staying under the radar.

The many, and there’s a lot of them, well behaved Irish abroad continue to inspire, impress and delight in all aspects of commerce and culture.

As some very wise Irish Mammy once said (presumably): “It is just as important to focus on the good as it is the bad.”

Bollywood meets Dublin- published in The Irish World

Bollywood came to Dublin last year during the filming of its newest movie, EK Tha Tiger, and the energy-infused flick is set to hit screens August 15th.

Filmed last Autumn in various locations around Dublin, including Trinity College, this romantic action thriller features students, Dubliners, and even An Garda Siochana
filling roles in various scenes and dance sequences.

The film stars two of the industries most popular actors, Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif, as it takes on a Bourne Identity theme while keeping the traditional spontaneous dance sequences so accustomed to the Bollywood style of cinema.

The movie tells the story of a spy who is sent to Dublin on a secret mission while also pursuing the admiration of the leading lady who happens to study dance at Trinity College.

Ireland has already played host to many the box-office smash such as Braveheart and Saving Private Ryan, but this was the first from the Bollywood genre to be shot on the green isle.

One of the dance sequences can already be viewed online under the movies title.


The colourful two minute clip gives audiences a taste of the eclectic amalgamation that the up-beat movie offers with leprechaun hats, bag pipes, hurleys, and even trad music.

The Irish Times reported that Tourism Ireland believes the hindi movie will significantly boost awareness of Ireland in the growing middle classes of India.

The organisation worked with the Irish Film Board and Dublin City Council to help secure the movies production in Ireland.

Chief executive Niall Gibbons said: “Bollywood is deep-rooted in the psyche of most Indian people as it has a considerable influence on Indian travellers when they are deciding on their holiday destination.
“We are confident that the footage shot in Dublin will help wet appetites and create a curiosity among Indians to come and visit the places where the colourful ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ was shot.
“We are delighted to have co-operated with the Irish Film Board in securing this important film for Ireland which was also made possible through strong support at Government level.”
Due to strict censorship regulations the trailer for the movie has already been banned in Pakistan however it will be shown in several countries and it is believed that it will reach an audience of over 100 million.
Ek Tha Tiger will be shown at most major cinemas in Ireland and the UK.

Easter Rising Archives - published in The Irish World

Eye-witness accounts from The Easter Rising and War of Independence are being released online to the public for the first time today.

For the first time in history everyone can now read gripping real-life accounts from Ireland’s difficult history under British control.

The files had previously been locked away in the State’s Military Archives for more than half a century.

The public can now access 1,773 witness statements, 36,000 pages of name and word searchable documents, rare photographs, and voice recordings from one of Ireland’s most turbulent eras.

The files entitled the “Bureau of Military History 1913-1921”, which took a decade to compile, had remained secret until their digitalisation today which allows anyone in the world to view them for free.

They stem from often emotional recollections of hundreds of men and women who played both major and minor roles in events leading up to the Irish State.

The Bureau of Military history had originally gathered these accounts in 1947, aiming to feature details from the beginning of the Irish Volunteers in 1913 to the “Truce” with the British in 1913 before those who had experienced it passed away.

Sixty- five years on, the public are invited to read accounts from members of the Irish volunteers, Cumann na MBan, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Sinn Fein, the Irish Citizen Army , among others, which were previously regarded as highly sensitive and controversial.

It has taken a team of military archivists 11 years to prepare them for their release today since their move from the Department of An Taoiseach to the Defence Forces in 2001.

For more see

Threat to Chester Beatty Library- published in The Irish World

The Chester Beatty Library near Dublin Castle could again be the target of some cunning thievery.

Two men were seen last week entering the city’s sewerage system through a manhole on Little Ship Street.

The location of the curious incident has caused concern for the safety of some of the capital’s most important buildings and their possessions.

The Chester Beatty Library, which is housed in the clock tower of Dublin Castle, is believed to be the most likely target as it houses one of the rarest collections of rhino horns in Europe.

These treasured items, worth around €50 million, have become a huge target among the criminal world sparking a string of thefts throughout Europe.

Some believe an Irish gang to be responsible for these crimes as last week’s incident has put Dublin city council and An Garda Siochana on high alert.

Independent councillor Mannix Flynn, had already raised the issue of substantial risk to the collection when noticing the rise in global criminal activity in relation to rhino horns.

Speaking to The Irish World he said:” It’s becoming very obvious that art objects are becoming much more prized and there’s currency for this and we just need to be much vigilant in every sense of the word.

In relation to the motives of the two men, Councillor Flynn said:” It would be my firm belief that they were targeting the Chester Beatty Library.”

“The close proximity of this particular entrance and the underground sewerage system is just too uncanny for me.”

“Irish galleries, Irish collections and Irish museums need to be watched.”

Councillor Flynn added that this is not the first times thieves may have used the city’s underground systems to gain illegal access as around €40k was recently stolen from the Old Ormond Hotel when thieves tunnelled through the basement and walls.

“It’s a vast subterranial world down there, built by the Victorians, its huge, and it would be a difficult area to police but more and more criminals are using these areas to gain access.”

If these suspicious characters were indeed targeting the museum and its collection, this will not be the first time it has been the target of criminal intent.

The museum’s former Islamic curator, David James, stole hundreds of priceless ancient manuscripts from their collection back in the nineties, spawning one of Ireland’s most notorious insider thefts.

Buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Sir Alfred Chester Beatty was an avid collector of rare manuscripts and treasures, he donated his collection to both Dublin Castle and to London’s British Museum.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Philadelphia Here I Come!- review published in The Irish World newspaper 04/08/2012

The Donmar Theatre Warehouse in London’s Covent Garden has been transformed into a 1950’s Irish household with the revival of Brian Friel’s much celebrated Philadelphia, Here I come!

Telling the often told tale of emigration that lies at the forefront of Irish history, Friel’s play catapulted him into international theatrical notoriety fifty years ago and remains highly topical and effective even today.

Friel’s unfettered imagination unearths life’s hardships with a sharp comedic shovel using the power of language, communication, and music as highly effective and emotive tools.

Set in the imagined community of Ballybeg, a town which features in thirteen of Friel’s plays, it takes place the day and night before Gar O’Donnell’s departure for the States, as he deals with his inner struggle to communicate with those he is leaving behind.

Through Friel’s dissection of the main character into Gar Public – the one everyone sees and hears, and Gar private – a personified version of his conscience, he highlights the intrinsic Irish nature of putting on a public performance while dealing with thoughts that contain a vivid contrast

Gar Public is played by Paul Reid, whose doe-eyed youthful features portray the more vulnerable side of the character, while Gar private, played by Rory Keenan, delivers the intense and often passionate thoughts trapped behind his innocent complexion.

These actors complimented each other on stage as their diverse acting styles and presence seemed to balance the character perfectly.

Speaking previously to The Irish World, Reid said: “I don’t think private or public can touch or push each other, but in the end it all comes down to trust- like with any good partner in anything. We have plenty of it.”

Through his preparation for his big journey, Gar battles with the difficult relationship he holds with his father, S.B O’Donnell, played by James Hayes.

As in much of Friel’s work, it is through the characters eccentricities that the audience become involved, stemming equally from what they do and in S.B’s case, don’t say.

Played with the introvert lack of emotion you might expect from a man of his day, Hayes’s alluring character embodies the Irish nature of expressing a lot by actually saying very little.

In exploring the role of communication within an Irish family, Friel unmasks the complexities it can evoke between those involved.

It is also through the inclusion of Madge, Gar’s only mother figure, played by Shameless’s Valerie Lilley, that Friel conveys an outwardly strength of character concealing suppressed emotions.

Lilley plays the part with a convincing charm and quick wit, as her animated natural features and twinkling eyes add to both the comedic and tragic elements of the story.

In all, this performance provided many the laugh out loud opportunity for the audience, particularly with Gar Private’s parodied version of his father’s night time routine described by him in a fashion show commentary.

Friel’s play has been performed many times through a variety of methods, by an array of varying actors, and is sure to continue to do so for a long time more. However this latest performance, directed by Lyndsey Turner, seems to hit quite close to the heart of what you might imagine Friel had aimed for when originally writing the script.

It is difficult to find fault with a performance such as this, but the only time that might have allowed for the audience to slip away somewhat from the story was when James Hayes’s accent occasionally filtered through.

However, the accuracy of the comedic timing, the convincing ability of the actors in evoking emotions in the audience, and the use of music and movement to tell Friel’s story, all make for a thoroughly enjoyable theatrical experience.

Whether you are an accomplished fanatic of Friel’s work already, or a curious novice, this energetic performance promises to touch your funny bone, heart strings, or quite possibly both.

Philadelphia, Here I Come! plays at the Donmar Theatre until September 22nd.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

The signs of an Irish Banksy- published in the Irish World 02/06/2012
By Leah Quinn

An Irish artist is giving Banksy a run for his money lately with some rogue artistry of his own.

TUD (The Ugly Duckling), as he likes to be known, has left his mark in various locations around Ireland and the UK over the past year and is starting to cause more than a stir among passers by.

It was his work in London that first established him as a Banksy rival in the eye of the media.

A large sign which could have caused royal scandal featured a hooded parka wearing Prince Harry spraying the name Banksy onto a wall – alluding to the suggestion of Banksy’s true identity.

The controversial image was accompanied by what seems to be his manifesto - I'll so offend, to make offence a skill, redeeming time when men think least I will.”

As always the creator of this sign left his initials at the bottom- TUD.

When The Irish World asked about his London masterpiece he responded: “My English campaign was an eye opener, I posed as a representative of the arts council, local council or local university looking for an advertising space or to promote an end of year show.“

His latest piece of work appeared only two weeks ago alongside Dublin’s M50 motorway featuring pictures of patrons in public toilets accompanied by the lines “Did you really think Dublin airport don’t have cameras here? TUD.”

The same appeared near Heathrow in a similar version.

This particular unique piece of artistry naturally caused more discomfort than his previous signs, which up until now had been witty jabs at NAMA, cheating husbands, and last year’s presidential election.  

Naturally this ignited a flurry of public disgust, particularly in Ireland, as a mention on Ray Darcy’s popular Today FM radio show seemed to amplify the reaction.

This is the second time both airports have been involved in TUD’s artistic tom- foolery as signs stating -“Golf is a passport for a dirty weekend away with the lads. Wake up ladies…a na├»ve wife. TUD.”- were also posted nearby at the start of the year.

TUD, who refuses to disclose his real identity, told the Irish World that his work is merely meant to entertain rather then offend: “If I can distract people for just a mili second and take their minds off fiscal policy and ratification stability treaties then I’m happy.”

The nocturnal artist, says he is living on Pot Noodles in order to fund his creative side but is nonetheless busy planning his next campaign and its location.

He also promises that the best is yet to come now that he has bought a studio in which to create his work.

We are also warned to keep an eye out NEAR New York’s Museum of Modern Art as he hopes to have his first exhibition there in November: “Then I can reveal myself to the world. Paint, canvas and bronze don't come cheap, avoiding security guards and police take they're toll, but ill keep everyone updated on Facebook.”