Sunday 4 December 2016

U2 not splitting up: McGuinness ends speculation

Stars turn out as octogenarian Country Girl takes centre stage

Ken Sweeney Entertainment Editor

Published 09/11/2011 | 05:00

U2 manager Paul McGuinness
U2 manager Paul McGuinness

It's official -- U2 are not splitting up. The band's manager, Paul McGuinness, last night flatly denied reports that the four school friends are going their separate ways after 35 years.

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Known as the fifth member of U2, Mr McGuinness (60) has steered their career from local outfit to global superstars. Asked about the constant speculation that U2 have hit the end of the road, he said: "No, and I think I would have heard. Not all all. They are always working on the next record."

Fears of a U2 split began with an interview Bono gave to 'Rolling Stone' magazine last month in which he hinted that himself, Larry Mullen Jnr, the Edge and Adam Clayton may part company sometime in 2012.

"I'm not so sure the future hasn't dried up," said the 51-year-old frontman.

"It's quite likely you might hear from us next year but it's equally possible that you won't. The band may have finally run its course."

However, at the opening of a new stage version of Edna O'Brien's novel 'The Country Girls', Mr McGuinness said: "I'm not sure what was said, but I think it was a chance remark taken out of context. I would disregard it."

First published in 1960, Ms O'Brien's novel shocked the nation on its release and was promptly banned due to the frank approach its young female characters had towards sex. Her books were burned with the blessing of her own mother.

But half a century later, the writer, now 80, was being celebrated by a who's who of Irish theatre and literature who turned up at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin, including Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney.

"The brilliant thing about Edna is that she was never embittered by the terrible experience she had of being rejected, of being castigated and spoken down to from the pulpit. She was always somebody with this extraordinary dignity about her, and that was really attractive, and she remains an incredibly attractive person," said writer and theatre director Peter Sheridan, her friend of over 30 years.

For Ms O'Brien herself, the Gaiety's staging of her story, which follows two girls leaving their sheltered convent school in search of life and love in the big city, brought back memories of moving to Dublin from her home in Clare.

"I remember coming to see Burgess Meredith in a Clifford Odets play at the Gaiety about 60 years ago. At the time I was working in a chemist shop on the Cabra Road. It's wonderful," she said.

John Kavanagh, who starred in a film version of 'The Country Girls, said it was "outrageous" that Ms O'Brien had ever been banned but she deserved credit for "breaking ground in the ultra-Catholic Ireland" of the time.

RTE presenter Marian Finucane, a long-time friend of Ms O'Brien, said: "It's an overused term but Edna really was groundbreaking, and brave."

Gay Byrne described the writer as "a superb woman" while his wife Kathleen Watkins added: "Apart from having a good brain, Edna is also a very stylish and elegant woman. For a woman of her years, she looks simply stunning."

John Costigan, managing director of the Gaiety, said demand for tickets was such that the theatre was considering a revival of the production in 2012.

"Edna certainly pushed the boundaries when she wrote this book but what Irish citizens were allowed to view back in the 1960s and what they can see now are very different," he said.

The production, which runs until Saturday, features at least one brief scene of male nudity.

Irish Independent

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