Tuesday 19 February 2019

Fiona Ness

Career path: Claire Byrne is very good at 'doing the swan', presenting a calm and unruffled exterior to the audience of her TV show Claire Byrne Live. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Claire Byrne: 'It's living the dream. I'm happy for it not to change' 

Claire Byrne is no stranger to the art of improvisation. Her television and radio shows place her front and centre in curating the national conversation on the hoof; putting it up to politicians and navigating debates on emotive subjects, live on air. But last Monday, as viewers settled down to watch the last Claire Byrne Live show of the season on RTÉ One, they could have had no idea of the masterful improv going on right under their noses.

Master: Dublin-born Kevin Geary

Debut a barbaric yawp across the world's rooftops 

Underprivileged - that's what we'd call Sonny Knolls nowadays. But in 1980s Dublin, he is a boy much like any other. A boy with a beautiful face who works in the butcher shop after school, smokes in the field with Sharon and watches his mother crumbling at the kitchen sink; waiting interminably for the light to break. In writer Karl Geary's Dublin, there's no Jimmy Rabbitte yakking in the bath. This writer has previous. The youngest of eight, he left a desolate Dublin in the 1980s for New York, aged 16. Here he went on to typify the emigrant dream, co-running the legendary music bar Sin-...