A thrill that never fades: meet Godfather of Irish surfing
The sight of carloads of surfers driving into Lahinch is a commonplace one. Nobody bats an eyelid when yet another vehicle with surfboards strapped to the roof pulls into town.
The sight of carloads of surfers driving into Lahinch is a commonplace one. Nobody bats an eyelid when yet another vehicle with surfboards strapped to the roof pulls into town.
It may not always be reflected in the summer music festival line-ups, but this is something of a golden age for Irish female musicians. Our reporter...
It is almost 10pm on a July midweek night and the light is fading over Liscannor Bay. The waves are rolling to shore, but there's still lots of activity on this Blue Flag beach at Lahinch. Scores of surfers are still out, catching those waves and riding them home. A few start to pack up their things and...
In the middle part of the last decade, every music critic worth their salt was espousing the greatness of Canadian music. And there was so much of it. Arcade Fire had delivered the incendiary, glorious Funeral, Feist were capturing hearts with a beautifully realised pair of albums and Stars...
Charlie Fink isn't the only musician to look to the theatre to refresh their sound - and the 'gig theatre' phenomenon will be coming to a stage near you soon. Here are three of the latest.
Billy Bragg is sitting in the bar of a swish boutique hotel in Dún Laoghaire, glorious summer sunshine and the sparkling Dublin Bay waters outside. But his mind is quite far away. Grenfell Tower in London is a smouldering ruin and he can't stop thinking about it.
It is a question that encourages Damien Dempsey to break out into the widest grin. Is he happy, I venture, with how his career has panned out?
Several years ago, around the time that Franz Ferdinand released their much admired debut album, I interviewed frontman Alex Kapranos and quipped that it wouldn't be long before the band would be fending off the groupies.
Brian Byrne is a great believer in the far-reaching potential of a chance meeting. The Golden Globe-nominated film composer has become one of Hollywood's most in-demand music men and it might not have happened had he not met Tom Petty's road manager in his home town of Navan, Co Meath, 15 years ago.
She dropped out of school at 15 and took a factory job before finding her calling in animation. Now, Cork's Nora Twomey - one of the founders of the Oscar-nominated Cartoon Saloon - is working with Angelina Jolie and has been hailed by Variety as one to watch. Ahead of the release of her passion project The Breadwinner, she meets our reporter.
The green fields and high hedgerows in the Wexford countryside around the villages of Castlebridge, Screen and Curracloe must have felt utterly alien to Joseph Maskell.
It sold out in just five minutes. Even those who were convinced that Electric Picnic tickets would be in demand when they went on general sale in March were stunned by the speed with which...
For almost a century, it was one of the most celebrated pubs in Dublin. Its striking exterior boasted six miniature monastic round towers that jutted into the sky and its façade had elaborate...
The line of people outside the shabby looking house in hip Dublin 8 snakes on to the street. They are here to view a one-bedroom flat with a monthly rent of €1,300. Twenty two people - some of them coupled up - wait for the estate agent to arrive.
It is the creative writing initiative dreamt up, in part, by The Commitments author Roddy Doyle, and the Fighting Words programme is now part and parcel of school life at Oberstown.
On the face of it, the Sultans of Ping, Daniel O'Donnell and Pope John Paul II have little in common. And yet, they all enjoy equal billing at a new exhibition that puts vinyl album covers in the spotlight.
Is the arts world obsessed with youth? All those features seeking out the best new talent seem to focus exclusively on young bands and young writers. If you're creatively minded but have not published your first novel or recorded that debut album before turning 30, you might be forgiven for thinking the opportunity has passed you by.
There are times when it is easy to forget that Oberstown Youth Detention Centre is a prison. The new buildings are so architecturally pleasing and the elevated view across the rolling farmland of north Co Dublin so captivating on a summer's day that you might feel as though you've stumbled across the Scandinavian ideal of an Irish school.
Two years ago, Bob Dylan released an album of songs originally recorded by Frank Sinatra. Shadows in the Night focused on Old Blue Eyes' more sombre songs from his so-called 'saloon albums' and was almost universally praised. Dylan had successfully made the songs his own.
David Arnold was at the peak of his career - a Grammy-winning composer of Hollywood blockbusters and James Bond films - when he got a call out of the blue from Damien Rice's grandmother.
It's a bit like that hoary old buses cliché - you wait seven years for a new David Kitt album, and then two turn up within a few months of each other.
The move was first mooted in 1998, but for many of the thousands of women who have given birth there - and the large population of its staff - the National Maternity Hospital should have relocated from its base at Holles Street in Dublin a long time ago.
The Moroccan native has been living in Ireland since 2001 and has long considered this country to be his home.
The fourth-year medicine student at University College Dublin knew practically nothing of Ireland growing up in Saudi Arabia. But when her older sister was accepted into Dublin's Royal College of Surgeons' medical school and her entire family decided to relocate here, she was pleasantly surprised.
If things had worked out differently, Rejjie Snow wouldn't exist. Instead of hip-hop aliases, Alex Anyaegbunam would be a household name in Ireland thanks to his magic touch on the football field.
Even at a young age, Dubliner Victoria Johnston was aware that she was born into a Christian tradition that was removed from the prevailing church in the country and she says her devotion to the Church of Ireland has been unwavering.
Originally from Cameroon, Pastor Emmanuel Might has lived in Ireland with his wife and children for the past 14 years. He ministers at one of the pentecostal churches that mushroomed in Dublin in the 2000s and although the Solid Rock church is off the beaten track - it's based in a nondescript building in an industrial estate in Inchicore - it pulls in large attendances twice a week.
It has been impossible to escape Ed Sheeran and his big, smiley face this week.
On the face of it, they are just a pair of photographs of Prince hanging out at a child's playground. He's looking sombre in both, but the casual observer would think little more of it before turning to some of the more risqué shots in this new book of photos captured by the late musician's former art director, Steve Parke.
William Geary was a garda superintendent who was removed from the force in 1928. He had been accused of being an IRA informant following a short investigation. Disgraced, the Clare man soon felt compelled to emigrate to the United States, where he remained for the rest of his life.
Paddy Armstrong may have been out of prison for the best part of three decades, but his life still bears the hallmarks of being locked up for 15 years for a crime he did not commit.
The 1980s were just six months old when a debut album that would come to be regarded as one of the decade's greatest was released. Searching for the Young Soul Rebels was the work of Birmingham-based Dexys Midnight Runners and, in Kevin Rowland, it introduced a distinctive young vocalist and lyricist quite unlike anyone else.
Phil Collins is in self-deprecating form. Within the first minute of our conversation, when I ask him how he's coping with some much-publicised injuries, he quips about how he believes he is now seen by the public.
Prince Rogers Nelson was just 28 when he released the astonishing Sign o' the Times on the final day of March 1987, but even at such a tender age, he was something of a music-industry veteran. He had already brought out no less than eight albums, including one of the decade's most emblematic in 1984's Purple Rain, and there seemed to be no stopping this creative giant in a diminutive man's body.
It is a tradition dating back more than a century. When bodies are lost at sea, coastal communities show their respect by leaving lighted candles on their windowsills.
Depeche Mode and Anton Corbijn first became acquainted in 1981. They were an up-and-coming new wave band from Essex and he was a Dutch photographer making a name for himself at the NME. Back then, Britain's best-known music magazine was a very big deal indeed and Corbijn's photos of Dave Gahan, Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher would have reached a lot of people.
We may only be in the third month of the year, but I'd be very surprised if the xx's I See You isn't towards the top of those best albums of 2017 lists come year end. Released at the beginning of January, it's an album I return to time and again, and offers further proof that Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim and Jamie Smith's band is among the finer British exports of recent years.
Young Dublin GAA fans, well used to seeing their team win All-Ireland football titles and dominate the Leinster Championship, may be surprised to learn that it wasn't always that way.
For much of last year, especially in the months around the centenary of the 1916 Rising, the country looked at itself like never before. Big questions about identity were the currency of the time: just what does it mean to be Irish?
Fitzwilliam Lane is a modest street near Merrion Square in the heart of Dublin. Unless you have business down there, chances are you've never had reason to visit. But it was all so different four decades ago. In 1977, Fitzwilliam Lane was one of the top destinations in Ireland for lovers of disco because it was here that Barbarella's nightclub was based.
The words tumble out, gather pace, ease back. They slap you in the face and get under your skin. They capture much of what it means to live in Ireland today. And if you thought a commission from the people behind Dublin's biggest festival would result in a liberal shot of sugar-coating, think again: this is verse to truly make you wonder what it means to be Irish.
Jens Lekman is about to release his fourth album, and if he says he's full of trepidation about it, he has every reason to be.
'I've never received a Valentine's Day card. Ever," says Al Porter. "And I'm someone who really doesn't mind Hallmark holidays. I love to celebrate - I'll throw a party at the drop of a hat."
He may have co-written virtually every song on it, but Glen Matlock reckons he has never listened to Never Mind the Bollocks from start to finish. It is one of the most significant albums of the 1970s and a milestone of post-war British culture, but the bassist, who quit the Sex Pistols in acrimonious circumstances just before it was recorded, has no desire to listen to it whole.
James O'Reilly is a 17-year-old from Dublin who enjoys playing both hurling and the piano. This summer he will sit the Leaving Cert and, soon after, take those first, tentative steps into adulthood.
There's no doubt about it. Vinyl is having a resurgence - and it's not just older people trying to reclaim their youth or hipsters looking for another slice of 'authenticity'. You might be surprised by the tender years of those perusing the vinyl sections today, and record shops are devoting more and more floor space to meet the demand.
Companies that sell tickets for concerts and other live events are facing a probe from the State's competition watchdog.
Todd Haynes, the celebrated American filmmaker behind Carol and Far From Heaven, made his directorial debut with a labour of love that's now regarded as a cult film. Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story was released in 1987 and focused on the short and troubled life of the Carpenters singer, who had died four years earlier.
Michael Brook is a Canadian guitarist and composer who has worked with such leftfield musicians as David Sylvian, Robert Fripp and Iarla Ó Lionáird. But Brook has played his part in U2 history, too, even if his name is unlikely to register with many.
Not many would release an album boasting just one track and weighing in at 54 minutes, but few artists are as doggedly single-minded as Brian Eno. His latest offering, Reflection, does just that.
Jim Power remembers the occasion like it was yesterday. The well-known economist was addressing a public meeting in Co Cavan two years ago and was talking about the recovery he felt was well and truly under way in Ireland. But he was soon shot down by an audience member, angered by what he was hearing.
I have a lucid memory of Christmas 1984, or rather the weeks leading up to it. I was nine years old and the joys of music were becoming firmly immeshed. And that December, 32 years ago, there were different tunes than Abba playing on the turntable in the living room. Last Christmas and Do They Know It's Christmas? must have been played hundreds of times and that was because I kept...
John Meagher looks back at some of the people and events that made the headlines.
Not since Venus and Serena Williams in their pomp have two sisters hit the zeitgeist as profoundly as the Knowles siblings. Beyoncé released a stunning sixth album, Lemonade, which was record of the year for many - this critic included - while Solange's A Seat at the Table beat her big sis to the title of album of the year by taste-maker Pitchfork.
From Beyoncé's masterful pop statement to Bowie's poignant farewell, our music critic listens back to the sounds of an unforgettable year
The pop landscape of 1983 looked very different to today and for the record industry it was a time of untold riches. Albums and singles sold in such enormous quantities that it looked as though the good times would continue forever.
The Rolling Stones have released a new album, their first in 11 years. And here's the surprising thing: Blue & Lonesome is really, really good. It's been attracting glowing notices across the board and it's generally seen as their best album in at least three decades.
Live albums are curious oddities. Even the better ones tend to just offer a faded facsimile of the concert spectacle and, robbed of audiovisual, multisensory glory, they can be aural documents to appeal only to the most hardened fan.
While the majority of men who are recommended to undergo surgery for prostate cancer chose to do so, a minority opt not to go ahead with the procedure. These, typically, are men in their 70s and 80s who have to reconcile the benefits of surgery with the likely side-effects, such as incontinence, and to consider all of that in light of their age.
Michael Daly is a long-haul truck driver from Ballinasloe, Co Galway. He had been in fine health for all his adult life and then, at 52, he got news that was little short of a hammer blow.
Madison Square Garden in downtown Manhattan is one of the great sporting arenas in the US. It's here where the basketball superstars of the New York Knicks ply their trade and it's here, too, where some of the most iconic fights in boxing history have been staged.
Angel Olsen released her second album, My Woman, at the beginning of September, and it didn't take long to establish that this was one of the great artistic statements of 2016. It was a revelation that would have been no surprise to those of us who were bewitched by her 2014 album Burn Your Fire For No Witness, but it was heartening to see a wonderfully singular artist deliver another intoxicating album on her terms.
For music lovers of a certain vintage, it is question that is pondered time and again. Will Morrissey and Johnny Marr - the men behind one of the most fanatically adored bands of all time, The Smiths - ever work together again? Might the group who changed the course of British music in a glorious spell between 1983 and 1987, forget their differences and embark on one of the great musical victory laps?
Last week, the Dublin band Fight Like Apes announced that they were calling time on their career.
Catriona T (not her real name) is a 23-year-old Irish woman who advertises her services on Escort Ireland, the leading portal for Irish men seeking to purchase sex. She is one of only a handful of Irish escorts on a site that is overwhelmingly populated by women from eastern Europe, South America and Africa.
A multimillionaire rock star is not, perhaps, the first person you might think of when it comes to picking up the cudgels and arguing that young, fledgling musicians really should be properly paid. But then Pink Floyd's Nick Mason is that bit different to his uber-wealthy peers from rock's Golden Age.
Earlier this year, the New Yorker published an 11,000-word article on the rise and dominance of the all-conquering showbiz website TMZ.
For a young man who made his acting debut just six years ago, Sam Keeley sometimes finds himself in the position where he gets offered a lot of money for a new project - yet feels compelled to turn it down.
It was a cyberattack that may spell the shape of things to come. Last Friday, several of the world's leading websites, including Facebook, Twitter and PayPal, were disabled. Spotify, The New York Times and the Guardian were also affected in an outage that was mainly felt along the US east coast, but also in parts of Europe.
When news broke that Bob Dylan had become the first singer-songwriter to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, I can't have been the only one to ponder who else among Dylan's peers could have been a contender for the most prestigious literary gong of them all.
Rewind 12 months, to October 2015, and Paul Bradley was hearing the news that left him reeling. The results of a special test had come through from the fertility clinic he and his wife were attending, and there was little doubt about it: the reason Paul and his 30-year-old wife Kristel could not conceive was down to him, not her, as both had originally assumed.
Dr John Kennedy has got used to the reaction from his male patients. It's a mixture of shock and disbelief. Few truly believe that the reason they and their partner can't conceive is down to them.
On the face of it, the Grateful Dead, veteran drummer Roy Haynes, Pink Floyd, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Miley Cyrus have comparatively little in common. Even seeing Stockhausen - the visionary master of mid-20th Century electronic music - in the same sentence as the princess of twerking, seems utterly bizarre.
Tracy Gunn's son was just 18 months old when he was admitted to Crumlin Children's Hospital with pneumonia. It was one of those health scares that would be difficult for any parent, but it was especially traumatic for the mother-of-two: she was out of the country on work at the time.
The mother may have been seen as the primary care giver in Ireland - a role still enshrined in the contentious Article 41.2 of the Constitution - but when it came to collecting Child Benefit, she was regarded as a second-class citizen.
I happened to be listening to his 'return-to-folk' album, 'John Wesley Harding', when the Bob Dylan news came through. Happily, in this year that's robbed us of icons like David Bowie and Prince, it wasn't sad news - but the ultimate recognition of poetic genius. 'All Along the Watchtower' struck up as I read the words, and the song sounded all the sweeter when refracted through the prism of a Nobel Prize in literature.
On Monday, millions of Polish women refused to go to work. Instead, they donned black clothes and took to the streets of more than 60 cities to protest about proposed legislation to effectively make abortion completely illegal there.
For Bob Dylan obsessives, it will be a cause for celebration. For others, it will be a sign that the record industry truly has lost the run of itself. On Friday, November 11, Columbia Records will release one of the most ambitious box sets of all time. The 1966 Live Recordings will comprise 36 discs and feature every minute of every show of Dylan's world tour from February to May of that year.
It is, for some, the must-wear item of the season: a simple, long-sleeved black sweatshirt, with REPEAL emblazoned across the chest in white lettering. It's both a political and fashion statement and it is difficult to walk through the streets of Dublin - or any other Irish city - and not see these distinctive tops sported by young women and a smattering of men.
The shock has yet to subside among staff at the Bon Secours private hospital in Tralee, Co Kerry, but few want to put their heads above the parapet and say what they think. The news is still too raw and shrouded in conjecture.
It is said that 19 is one of the most impressionable of all ages to be snared by new music and that's the age I was when Oasis released their monumental debut, Definitely Maybe, in August 1994. Every time I listen to that album now, I am transported back to the streets of south inner city Dublin and to my first year in college.
Evanne Ní Chuilinn has worked as an RTÉ sports broadcaster for 12 years, having started off as a researcher in TG4. The Kilkenny native was among those who reported on the Olympics for the national broadcaster and is currently in Rio working on the station's coverage of the Paralympics, which concludes tomorrow. The proud Gaelgeoir lives in Dublin with her husband Brian and...
There was little surprise when Radiohead's latest album, A Moon Shaped Pool, was named among the dozen nominees for the Hyundai Mercury Prize last month. It would have been a travesty had it not made the shortlist and, in fairness to the judges this year, they've ensured several wonderful albums are in the mix, including David Bowie's Blackstar - released two days before his untimely death in January - and Hopelessness from Anohni, the artist former known as Antony Hegarty.
The Little Ladybird Creche is based in Tallaght, Dublin, and boasts a service that is both eye-catching and - for several parents - a godsend. It opens its doors at 6.30am - a full hour before most creches in the capital.
John Howard has a reputation for speaking his mind, irrespective of how outdated his views may be deemed, and the ex-prime minister of Australia was in typically combative mood this week.
The suburb of Knocknaheeny on the northside of Cork city is still comparatively young. Up until the early 1970s, this upland area was rolling countryside; today its sprawling estates are home to 4,500 people.
It was broadcast just once -on January 22, 1984 - during a break in that year's Super Bowl, but Apple's commercial to introduce its new Macintosh computer is still regarded by many industry insiders as the greatest television ad ever made. It is certainly one of the most fabled.
It says something about our instant gratification culture that 'reviews' of Britney Spears' latest album appeared a couple of hours after she unveiled it last Thursday. Trigger-happy critics were euphoric in their praise; it was, they breathlessly insisted, one of pop's great comebacks.
Paul Jefferies is a Canadian hit-maker and producer who is best known by the Nineteen85 moniker. He was one of the main producers behind Drake's hugely popular Views album and had a major part in fashioning the R&B star's inescapable single 'One Dance', a UK chart-topper for 15 consecutive weeks this summer.
In the early hours of Monday morning, RTÉ wrapped up its Olympics coverage with footage of the closing ceremony. But for senior executives at Montrose, an event of an even greater magnitude took place later that day.
On the day that Paul Simon released his eagerly awaited album, Graceland - 30 years ago this week - the longest strike in Irish history was entering its third year. In one of the most remarkable domestic stories of the 1980s, a dozen employees of the Dunnes Stores branch on Dublin's Henry Street refused to handle food products from apartheid-riven South Africa and their unpaid protest against the retailer lasted two years and nine months.
It's Pat Shortt - but like you've never seen him before. He is the star of a new three-part drama to be screened on TV3 next month and his performance is far more likely to coax tears than belly-laughs.
U2 released four albums between 1980 and 1984. There was nothing unusual about that sort of prolificacy at the time: the record industry expected their signings to have a prodigious work rate and Bono and friends certainly did.
It's a statement that's as sobering as it gets. "If only a small fraction of what we know about the effects of sugar were to be revealed in relation to any other material used as a food additive, that material would promptly be banned."
Lisa Hannigan (35), grew up in Co Meath and came to prominence as backing singer to then-boyfriend Damien Rice. She sung on his first two albums and spent seven years touring in his band. When their personal and professional union ended, Hannigan went out on her own, releasing a...
There was genuine excitement and goodwill when HMV returned to the Irish market in 2014. It was a sign, many of us then thought, that the demise of bricks-and-mortar record shops had been overstated. But here we are, just over two years later, and the last rites are, yet again, being administered to a once formidable high street brand.
On November 27 last year, Katie Taylor won the Irish National Championships for the fifth occasion. But, this time, there were two key differences: first, she won the title following an actual fight - the previous four had been 'walkovers' as nobody could be found who was willing to step into the ring with her; and, second, she competed without having her father and coach, Pete, in her corner.
Earlier this month, Donald Trump strode on stage at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland to the strains of Queen's 'We Are The Champions'. It was a suitably bombastic walk-on for a man who was divorced from subtlety in the womb.
Every Friday afternoon, hordes of stressed out Millennials travel to peaceful Co Westmeath for a weekend retreat. But this is no ordinary minibreak. They have come to Grouse Lodge to detox from technology and to learn how best to live lives that are not utterly dependent on smartphones, tablets and laptops.
Aisling Bea has not done stand-up in Ireland since Christmas, but the days where she dreaded performing in her native land are long gone.
The 'below-the-line' comments on newspaper articles can be places where the sensitive might fear to tread, but there's frequently great wisdom among the pithy posts. And, last week, one such line caught my eye beneath a Guardian article on Drake's stupendously popular single 'One Dance': "It's just a banal mush of nothingness." And you know what? The unnamed respondent was absolutely spot-on.
It was billed by some as the most ambitious housing plan in the history of the State, a strategy that would finally tackle Ireland's chronic property shortage. But when he launched 'Rebuilding Ireland' this week, Housing Minister Simon Coveney offered little concrete proposals to cheer up a demographic that might feel especially hard done by - first-time buyers.
It was a revolution that was kick-started at a farmers' market in Glasnevin, Dublin. Iseult Ward and Aoibheann O'Brien had begun a socially minded business venture to redistribute unwanted, leftover food to the needy, and in 2012 the first batch of unsold, perishable goods at the popular market were given to local charities to share as they saw fit.
Madonna's Rebel Heart world tour called to Paris last December and she invited a special guest, Héloïse Letissier, to join her on stage for a joint performance that culminated in Madge playfully spanking the younger woman. The crowd roared their approval - the union between the veteran pop star and a new pretender, one of their own, was seen as the highlight of the night.
Janet O'Sullivan was looking at old footage about the abortion issue on Today Tonight, RTÉ's 1980s precursor to Prime Time, in recent weeks and was struck by how similar the rhetoric was then to the soundbites of today.
If you thought it would be fun to be married to a music critic, think again. "What's that miserable indie rubbish you're playing now?" says my missus all too frequently. She loves her music but doesn't share my daily need to hear introspective, heartbroken, everything's lost songs from people who are gifted at sharing their pain with the world.
In the months leading up to the birth of his first son, Darren Brooks carefully amassed the holiday time he felt he would need in order to spend the first days and weeks with his newly expanded family. But there were grumblings of discontent from his then employer when it came time to take the leave.
It was something even ardent Abba fans thought would never happen: all four original members performing on stage together again. For years after they split, the Swedes were offered enormous sums of money to reform for a comeback tour, but every overture was rebuffed.
Dublin Port Authority is not the first organisation one might think of when it comes to stoking the creativity of Irish musicians but that's exactly what it's done on a project called Starboard Home. The idea was to encourage some of the finest domestic acts of the moment to write a song inspired in some way by Dublin, and more specifically, its venerable port and the storied Liffey that bisects the city.
It was a sales brochure for a two-bedroom apartment that did it. Located in Crown Alley, in the heart of Dublin's Temple Bar, and with a guide price of €425,000, the blurb noted that the property was being rented out to Airbnb customers 90pc of the year. And then came the really eye-catching detail: in the space of just 12 months it had brought in revenue of €79,000 for its owners thanks to all those short-term lets.
Last weekend, before catching another epic Bruce Springsteen show, I was in Liverpool, taking part in the city's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon running series. Merseyside, of course, is globally famous for both music - especially the Beatles, whose legacy is flogged to death here - and football.
Robbie Brady (24) plays football for the Republic of Ireland and Norwich City. He grew up in Baldoyle, Dublin, and moved to the Manchester United Youth Academy when he was 15. He spent three years at Old Trafford yet, despite impressing at under-age level, he failed to break into the first team. His fortunes changed when he went on loan to Hull City, where he would go on to...