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.