26 | BEST OF IRELAND LATE LATE SHOW ANECDOTES One of his Newstalk show’s most popular features is the Eason’s Book Club, whose latest review panel comprises James Kavanagh, Claudia Carroll and Caroline Foran. Pat’s nightstand must be heaving under the weight of all those new tomes. “I’m a voracious reader,” he smiles. “There are so many women now writing great ction. I interviewed Christine Hickey-Dwyer about her new book, The Narrow Land. It’s set in Cape Cod post-World War II and weaves two real life characters, Edward Hopper the artist and his wife Jo, into the ction. It’s absolutely brilliant.” My old Limerick pal, Kevin Barry, did a similar thing with John Lennon in Beetlebone. “Now, Kevin’s a genius: so original and funny. Another writer I admire hugely is Mike McCormack whose Solar Bones is one sentence and a fullstop. How many authors would have the bravery to attempt that? Apparently it was turned down by countless publishers, but Mike got the last laugh. I’ve great admiration for writers who double or triple-job to survive. Often they lecture in universities and become eminent in the world of academia. There aren’t many what I’d call ‘superstar’ Irish writers like Marian Keyes, who’s so proli c. Even though she’s had her dif culties with depression, Marian keeps making the bestsellers list and has been an inspiration to so many people. “John Boyne made his breakthrough with The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas and has kept producing fantastic books for both adults and younger readers. You’re guaranteed a good read too when Donal Ryan’s name is on the cover. I tend to save the big page-turning thrillers for when I’m on holiday, though I couldn’t wait to start Harlan Coben’s new one, Run Away. It’s so snappy, taught and terse. That kind of thing I like for recreation, but every day almost there’s something I’ll at least dip into to keep myself up to speed with who’s doing Finnegan’s of Dalkey is a favourite for a pint ignorance voted to leave, but what about the 48% who’ve been made to feel that they absolutely don’t matter? She owes it to the country as a whole to have a soft Brexit, keeping the lines of communication open between the UK and the rest of Europe. Ivan (Yates) uses the line, ‘We regard Britain as the neighbours who just decided to burn their house down.’” A bad situation has been made even worse by Mrs. May being so slavishly reliant on Arlene Foster & Co. “It’s quite extraordinary that the DUP, who have the Conservatives exactly where they want them at the moment, are prepared to sacri ce their own economic well-being to preserve the union, which so many people on the other side of the Irish Sea have no loyalty to. It was Margaret Thatcher “Bono brought Michelle Obama to Finnegan’s, which is where I go when I fancy a pint” who said that Britain has no long-term strategic or economic interests in Northern Ireland. “Theresa May could have completely changed tack by the time you read this, but I think she’s doing her country a huge disservice and will be judged harshly by history.” Is it my imagination or has Pet Kenny become more forthright in expressing his own opinions since making the switch from RTÉ to Newstalk? “No, you’re spot on. There’s much more freedom on Newstalk to comment as well as simply report. When I rst arrived, I was told, ‘It’s not like back in RTÉ – you can confront things in a much more adversarial or sceptical style.’ Don’t get me wrong, RTÉ have some brilliantly adversarial and sceptical people of their own, but there is a certain freedom that comes from not being on the State broadcaster.” If anybody had forgotten Pat’s zero tolerance for bullshit, they got a reminder when he put manners on the more wayward participants in the last Repeal the Eighth debate on TV3 (now Virgin Media TV). How does he prepare himself for something of that magnitude? “Arm yourself with the facts,” he asserts. “I read and learn as much as I can and ask the researchers for things that might not get used or come up, but mean that I feel on top of the subject. Also knowing what answers you expect, so when you hear something different the red light in your brain goes on; ‘Ah, someone has budged, someone has moved, someone has changed the rules.’ The most important thing is establishing ground rules for all the participants. They were told, ‘If you keep on talking, there’ll be no time for you in part three.’ They knew we had the stopwatch on them and, in most cases, acted accordingly.” l BEST OF I R E L A N D 2 019 l INTERVIEW
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