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My cultural life: Caitriona Lally


Caitriona Lally

Caitriona Lally

Caitriona Lally

Caitriona Lally is a writer and cleaner who lives in Dublin with her partner and young family. She won the 2018 Rooney Prize for Irish Fiction for her debut novel, Eggshells. Her as-yet-untitled second novel, which she spent five years writing or not writing, will finally be published in 2021.

Film: Ad Astra

The last movie I saw in the cinema was Ad Astra last year. Going to the cinema in the morning feels like mitching from school, a real treat. I love space movies and for this one I arrived at the cinema on Parnell Street and spent the next two hours travelling to the moon and Mars. I go to the cinema to be transported out of reality - and for that I want action, 3D, gimmicks, plot lines that don't make me think too hard, popcorn and Maltesers. Ad Astra fit the bill.

Band: The Saw Doctors

My go-to band when I'm cleaning or doing other mundane tasks is The Saw Doctors. Some of their songs are pure fun, they have you lepping around the kitchen shouting along. My favourite lyric is 'Boom shaka laka laka buns and cakes' from Joyce Country Ceili Band. As a Mayo football fan, I have nice memories of The Green and Red of Mayo being belted out in Croke Park. I've also bad memories of being sucker-punched by a last-minute defeat, and the song To Win Just Once is enough to get me maudlin thinking of it. Some day, lads!

Artwork: Francis Bacon's studio

Not an actual piece of art but I often go to the preserved Francis Bacon's studio in the Hugh Lane Gallery. I love that they recreated the contents of the studio exactly, it makes you feel you have an insight into the chaotic creativity of the man. I love the stained mirror, the scatter of books and papers, the Champagne bottles, paint tins and brushes, botched canvases, the whole hoarded jumble of it. It's the behind-the-scenes-ness that appeals to me.

Design: Bits of Trinity College

I clean the museum building in Trinity and during lockdown, I worked my shifts alone in the building. There's a big bright hall with grand staircases and statues of giant elk, lots of nooks and crannies and winding staircases. It's a gorgeous old Victorian building, just the right side of creepy, and it'd put you in mind of Turkish baths with its pillars and zigzag floors. (There are probably more technical ways to describe it.) I'm trying to tempt a ghost out of hiding but no joy yet.

Book: A Quiet Tide

I'm reading A Quiet Tide by Marianne Lee. It's an engaging and beautifully written book about the 19th century Irish botanist Ellen Hutchins, and it manages to hit the sweet spot between research and imagination. There are very evocative descriptions of characters and place and smells. It's a tough time for first-timers to be bringing out books (and not getting to have real-life book launches) and I hope this book gets the attention it deserves.

TV Show: Peppa Pig

I haven't got rightly into a TV show in months, not for want of trying. Lockdown meant working the day-job and minding a one-year-old and two-year-old, so evenings have been spent in a desperate scramble at writing deadlines. The main 'continue watching' programme on our Netflix feed is, depressingly, Peppa Pig. I plan to rewatch Twin Peaks and Gilmore Girls - any show set in small-town America with a quality diner gets my vote.

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