Thursday 18 January 2018

Donal Lynch


Retired Irish swimmer and coach Chalkie White says

A childhood burden: 'All of the secrets, all of the time' 

A quarter of a century after he left Ireland for the last time, disgraced former national swimming coach George Gibney still periodically makes headlines here. A reporter will track him down to a small American town where there will be outrage at his proximity to young children. A blurry photo will accompany quotes from a politician here about how the powers that be must look again into Gibney's extradition. And there will be renewed handwringing about why a man who stood accused of multiple counts of child rape was ever allowed to block a prosecution against him.

Patrick Bergin. Photo: David Conachy

The prayers of Saint Patrick 

Patrick Bergin has a magical and unexpected knack for making even the comical seem coolly menacing. On the day we meet he's been hobbled by a fall and the walking stick, ankle brace and huge overcoat give him an air of Richard Harris by way of Christian Grey. It is a suave, imposing, craggily handsome impression which belies the actual cause of the accident: he slipped on a cow pat in a field in Tipperary. I'm mewing my sympathy, while suppressing a laugh, but Patrick lets me know I needn't bother. "Just make sure you specify cow," he deadpans. "I don't do bulls**t."

Sharon Stone in the infamous leg-uncrossing scene in 'Basic Instinct'

Show's over for Hollywood's dirty joke - Sony's 'cleaned-up' versions of biggest releases are sign that PG now rules silver screen 

Have you ever wanted to see your favourite dirty comedies without the dirty jokes? Sony Pictures is banking on the fact that you might. Last week it announced its new 'clean initiative' which will allow viewers to see certain releases without the lewd humour and for other releases, scenes of "graphic violence, offensive language, sexual innuendo and other adult content" either edited or removed.

Dr Abbie Lane, consultant psychiatrist

Passing the stress test: Gulliver's travails 

We seem to have gone on something of a journey with stress. Twenty years ago the notion of the strains of life and work being a possible cause of illness was still something of a taboo. It wasn't possible in most industries to take time off work for stress alone - there had to be a 'cover' illness - and the nascent mental health services had barely begun to address the problem. In the intervening years there has been something of a revolution in terms of attitudes.

'If I'd been limping along semi-functionally, I might have just kept going. In a way I am lucky that my situation was so bad I needed treatment.' Photo: Tony Gavin

How comedy saved Joanne McNally’s life 

Her comedy may be edgy but there is something deeply reassuring about Joanne McNally. In an era in which many of the country’s young creatives are being swallowed whole by the PR industry, Joanne has moved the other way — ditching the steadiness of copywriting and re-inventing herself as a stand-up comic. It’s the type of career change that takes guts — especially at a moment when every other Irish person fancies themselves as possessing a comedic gift — but in hindsight, it doesn’t look all that foolhardy a move. Over the last few years, Joanne has established herself as one of the...

Tragic: George Michael will sadly be remembered as another rock star who burned too brightly and died too young Photo: NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images

Hedonism alone didn't kill George 

For someone with such an unswerving instinct for spectacle, George Michael's funeral seemed to strike all the wrong notes. The service took place last Thursday in Highgate Cemetery, London amid tight security, with black tarpaulin covering the cemetery's iron gates. It was organised in such a cloak of secrecy that rather than arriving in a hearse, the pop star's body came in a private ambulance. Even the rabidly intrusive British press could barely get any of the details. The most they could tell us was Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley and George's old flame Kenny Goss were in...

Mia Farrow

Unravelling the dramas of Mamma Mia 

The photo, posted to Twitter on St Patrick's Day, shows a young girl in a white dress, her belongings slung under her shoulder, a little boy in a flat cap by her side. The girl in the picture was screen legend Maureen O'Sullivan and, her daughter Mia Farrow wrote, it was taken the day Maureen left Ireland for America. O'Sullivan would of course go on to carve out a legendary career in Hollywood but when Mia grew up she often made the journey the other way across the ocean to Ireland. Her speaking engagement this weekend at the Bord Gais theatre was cancelled due to "unforeseen...

Remembering: The site of a mass grave for children who died in the Tuam mother and baby home. Photo: PA Archive/PA Images

Comment: The horror in Tuam continues to unfold... Tiny bodies dumped in a septic tank, left to rot without human dignity 

On the face of it there doesn't seem anything especially macabre about the site of the former mother-and-baby home in Tuam. Nestled between middle-class semi-ds and bathed in a soft winter light, it looks less like a latter-day Auschwitz and more like the kind of plot an ambitious developer would be licking his chops over. Hoarding is still erected around the site known locally as the...

Fiona O'Shaughnessy in central London. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas

'Striking Out' star Fiona O'Shaughnessy on her relationship with David McSavage: 'He let me love him a little bit anyway' 

'If you feel sad in London, you feel really sad," Fiona O'Shaughnessy tells me, her eyes ablaze with dramatic emphasis, "but if you feel happy, you feel really happy". Blessedly, today seems like a happy day. This relatively new emigrant to London is in a good mood. A joke is never far from her bee-stung lips. She vamps joyously for the photographer, who struggles against the last of the...

RANT: Majella O’Donnell complained about her friend’s search for a psychiatrist, and many people agreed with her stance. Photo: Andres Poveda

Making sense of Majella's outburst about trying to find a psychiatrist 

Are psychiatrists the new landlords? To listen to Majella O'Donnell last week you would have thought they were. Her description of her friend's search for a psychiatrist had many parallels with the stories from the ongoing housing crisis: A desperate punter at the end of her tether, a whole class of (presumably wealthy) individuals dispassionately benefiting from the shortage of supply - the friend was told she'd have to wait until February to be seen - and an overall system that seems hopelessly skewed against the ordinary person earning an ordinary wage. €300 an hour was the rate Majella's...

Happy: Clockwise from top left, Jane and Todd have been together for 17 years

How a supermodel and a writer found love (and God) in New York 

It was 2009 and I decided to go and live in New York for a while. I had just arrived in Manhattan, on a brutal January night when the news spread through the streets like wildfire that a plane had gone into the Hudson. The cacophony of sirens summoned me and many of my fellow Hells Kitchen residents down to the freezing river to see for ourselves. There we saw rescue workers swarming on the water's edge. The news crews couldn't believe their luck - a world event right on their doorstep.

Ryan Phillippe stars as a veteran sniper in 'Shooter'

New on netflix: Ryan Phillippe gets shot at the big time again 

More Ryan Phillippe on our screens is always a good thing, and he could probably use a little cheering up after his engagement was recently called off. He also hasn't had a movie hit in a while, although he has carved out a nice niche on TV, particularly in the murder mystery series Secrets and Lies (not to be confused with the excellent Mike Leigh film). So, the time is right for this new drama/thriller series, which premieres in the States on Tuesday and here on Netflix on Wednesday.

Welsh singer-songwriter Judith Owen is something of a vocal chameleon

No tricks, just treats from Judith Owen 

Judith Owen can certainly do spooky. Having appeared as herself on The Simpsons in the 13th season episode The Blunder Years, she was asked to sing a spoof version of Shirley Bassey doing a James Bond theme tune at the end of the recent 600th episode - Treehouse of Horror XXVII. It was probably the second scariest moment in the episode - after Homer's 'Ivanka 2028' badge - and showed that the Welsh singer-songwriter is also something of a vocal chameleon, with 'creepy' well within her repertoire.

Danger: Dublin risks losing its soul Photo: Depositphotos

It's simple, Simon: Airbnb greed or generation bunk bed 

You would have to have some empathy for Housing Minister Simon Coveney when he admitted last week that he still doesn't fully understand what the role of Airbnb should be in the economy. It's a confusing proposition after all; a multinational tech firm - our supposed saviours - mixed up in a dystopian rental nightmare. The State has rich form in attempting to solve clashes of values like these in such a way that the multinational wins every time. But the Airbnb situation feels somewhat unique. Unlike, say, the Apple tax, the connection between our national infrastructure and the...

Michael O'Leary

The old boys' club: Ireland's most influential privately educated men and the elite schools that spawned them 

What is it about a private education that still gives such a distinct advantage in Irish life? We pride ourselves on having greater social mobility than the class-obsessed English, on having a more egalitarian school system than the Americans and their Ivy League, and, yet, still the value of an old-boy background shows itself, with a quick glance at any of the major power centres in our...