Tuesday 13 November 2018

Donal Lynch


A new leaf: Pope Francis plants an Irish oak tree on the lawn in front of the south portico of Aras an Uachtarain watched by President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina during his visit yesterday. Pope John Paul II also planted a tree in the garden when he visited Ireland in 1979. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Noticeable ambiguity in our welcome for Francis 

In the end, it was hard to believe that one little old man could be the receptacle for so much reverence, protest and outrage. It wasn't just that, like Dougal in Father Ted, you felt sure he should be "a bit taller" (although this turned out to be quite diplomatic on his part - no looming over Michael D), it was that now, as the Pope moved among us, the endless pomp and circumstance of the visit seemed, at times, like a highly sanctioned and structured form of elder cruelty.

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Deirdre O’Kane says the secret to a long marriage is friendship, love and the shared passion of their kids. Photo: David Conachy

The extreme highs and lows of Deirdre O'Kane: 'I don't know what my salary is from one year to the next...I'm on Irish telly money' 

It's every interviewer's worst nightmare. Not the walk out - those can be fabulous colour after all - but its evil cousin, the 'walk along'. As in 'walk along beside me and we'll do the interview on the street'. It's an approach that works best for embattled politicians on the brink of resignation, TV news gotchas and other interviews where it's generally understood that the subject is being flayed...

At just 22 years of age, Zendaya has a slew of pop hits and big roles under her belt

Disney princess is the queen of meme 

You know you've made it very big when even memes about you go viral. Since last weekend, a clip created by YouTube user Gabriel Gundacker, featuring a song he wrote called Zendaya is Meechee, has racked up five million hits, prompting stars like Seth Rogen to tweet his approval, The New York Times called it 'the first post-vine vine'. The clip, which references Zendaya's role in the forthcoming animated film Smallfoot, was priceless marketing for Warner Brothers and also won the approval of its young protagonist. "Sang my name right and everything," the actress shared on Twitter, with...

Ruby Rose

'In America, I spent two years trying to make it' - Aussie star Ruby Rose talks fame, identity and growing up gender fluid 

The phone line crackles and sputters and several time zones away, Australian DJ-turned-actress Ruby Rose prepares herself for yet another 12-minute slice of promo. Phone interviews haven't always been her friend - she's described in the past how the handsets have given her skin problems - but today she's eager, above all else, to get the word out about The Meg, a nautical action film which is a...

Paddy Hirsch: 'The combination of a disruptive home life and being away from home was toxic for me.' Photo: Gerry Mooney

From the military to Wall Street to writing novels - how lost boy Paddy Hirsch finally found love 

Fiction has never been a particular friend of high finance. Even before banker-bashing became common currency, literature saved a special scorn for the emotionless financier, from Emile Zola's L'Argent to Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho. And, if reader empathy for the wizards of Wall Street is an issue, it also takes a particular set of writing skills to distil the inherent dryness of white...

Best friend Julian Erskine, left, has been a huge support to Ronan Smith since he has been diagnosed

'I feel privileged to have had a very lucky life' - Riverdance manager suffering from the same illness that killed his father 

'Is this genetic?" Ten years ago this month that sentence jumped off the page at actor and producer Ronan Smith. It was from his own diary, but he had no recollection of writing it and no recollection of the thought. And, in a cruel irony, it came from an entry in which he had wondered about the cause of his own memory loss. "I had no idea when I read that that Alzheimer's could be...

Film director Ken Wardrop. Photo: David Conachy

A black sheep makes the grade... director Ken Wardrop 

The sunlight floods the room, just as it did during every day of the shoot for Making The Grade, (see review, top right) and Ken Wardrop, the film's director, emits his own distinctively sunny warmth. In person he is exactly as you would imagine from his collection of twinkling documentaries; a careful listener with a natural appreciation for the small absurdities of conversation. It takes a particular art to find the beauty and drama in such ostensibly small themes as a farmer herding cattle (2008's The Herd), a woman's experience of ageing (Undressing My Mother, 2004) or people learning piano,...

Nadia Forde and Dominic Day. PIC: Nadia Forde/Instagram

'It’s the only relationship I’ve ever had where that worry wasn’t there' - Nadia Forde on engagement to rugby star Dominic Day 

She’s been a model, a singer, and a reality-TV star, but acting was always her first love. Due to the ‘carnage’ of her teens, she’s never pursued her dream — until now. Nadia Forde tells Donal Lynch about her debut acting role, dealing with catty Irish models, how she’s working on her relationship with her dad — and why she doesn’t worry about her rugby player fiance

The great gender agenda: Kristen Roupenian, whose 4,000-word tale about a stilted romance sent the internet into meltdown last week, said the themes of sex, gender, power and consent in ‘Cat Person’, in ‘The New Yorker’, were ones that ‘I’ve been thinking about, and trying to write about, for years’. Photo: Elisa Roupenian Toha

Cat Person, or 'how big girls deal with bad sex' 

It would give you some hope that last week the biggest story on social media wasn't about which famous man had been a sex pest or Conor McGregor's shameless shenanigans. Eclipsing both of those was the fevered discussion of Cat Person, a short story by Kristen Roupenian, which appeared in The New Yorker and for a brief, shining moment the piece turned the screaming echo chamber of Twitter into a sort of literary salon. Suddenly, everyone had an opinion on Margot and Robert and their horribly awkward sexual encounter.

Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster share a creepily intimate moment in 'Silence of the Lambs'

25 years of Silence for Jodie Foster 

For discerning culture vultures, the hottest ticket in London last Friday night was undoubtedly Jodie Foster's appearance at the screening in the BFI's South Bank cinema of the horror classic, Silence of the Lambs. It has been a quarter of a century since the film came out, sweeping all the major Oscar categories for the first time for any film since Ben-Hur, and even today it still grips audiences like a jolt of scalp-prickling terror. The film's director, Jonathan Demme, died earlier this year and it was partly in tribute to him that Foster agreed to attempt to articulate the film's complicated legacy.

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...