The Min­is­ter for Cul­ture, Her­itage and the Gaeltacht on Tommy Tier­nan’s many facets, what we can learn from Vi­enna and her soft spot for Oliver Cal­lan

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - ON MY RADAR - SHILPAGANA­TRA

Favourite cur­rent book

I’ve just fin­ished a book of 16 fas­ci­nat­ing short sto­ries called The Far Side of Hap­pi­ness by Gerry Boland, which he gave me when I met him at the Ty­rone Guthrie Cen­tre in Co Mon­aghan. The sto­ries are very Ir­ish and have a nice twist to them. The book I’m go­ing to start this evening, be­cause the only time I get to read is in bed, is The Blamed by Emily Houri­can. It’s about a girl who falls in love in her teenage years, but there’s a story be­hind the story. So it looks like it will be re­ally com­pelling.

Restau­rant

I reg­u­larly go to Michael’s and The Mer­rion Tree in Mount Mer­rion, but I also love Riba in Stil­lor­gan. The food is Miche­lin star to me but it’s bistro-style so you can wear your jeans if you like, or dress up for a nice evening. They have lots of spe­cials that they put up on the black­board ev­ery day, so there’s al­ways some­thing new. It’s a trea­sure in south Co Dublin. I love the lamb shank, and my hus­band loves the chicken wings.

Co­me­dian

We’ve a great sense of hu­mour in Ire­land so we have a full com­ple­ment of co­me­di­ans. But as a politi­cian some­times we have to be self-ef­fac­ing about what we do, and in that vein, Oliver Cal­lan gets the award for tak­ing politi­cians to task. He’s a great mimic, and al­though he’s ir­rev­er­ent and acer­bic some­times, he’s very witty, you can’t help but laugh. I was at the Law So­ci­ety’s spring gala and he mim­icked about 10 or 11 politi­cians in the space of 30 min­utes. Not ev­ery politi­cian likes him, but he is very funny.

Play

The play that sticks out in my mind is Sive, writ­ten by John B Keane and di­rected by Garry Hynes, which was on at the Gai­ety at the be­gin­ning of the year. Tommy Tier­nan starred in it and Grainne Good as Sive was ex­tra­or­di­nary. It’s about a young, im­pov­er­ished wo­man who’s be­ing forced to marry an older man. There’s a great black sense of hu­mour in it but it’s quite sober­ing, too, be­cause it’s about them try­ing to get out of dire cir­cum­stances. It was the first time I’d seen Tommy as an ac­tor rather than a co­me­dian, and he def­i­nitely stole the show, not to take away from the other in­cred­i­ble ac­tors.

City

I lived in Vi­enna for a year in my early 20s when I was study­ing Ger­man at Trin­ity. Stephanspl­atz has a great cathe­dral and the beau­ti­ful Heuriger, which are tav­erns typ­i­cal of Aus­tria. As a stu­dent you could buy a ticket for the Opera House for £10 and you’d be able to stand and watch these in­cred­i­ble pro­duc­tions. I lived in the 19th dis­trict, which was a lit­tle like Black­rock – quite sub­ur­ban. It was un­usual be­cause most peo­ple there owned their homes, al­though in Aus­tria most peo­ple rent. That opened my eyes, be­cause in Ire­land we tend to want to own.

Ac­tor

We’re very lucky, we have a lot of tal­ent here. I’ve been a fan of Saoirse Ro­nan from the early days, in Atone­ment and her per­for­mance in Lady Bird was stun­ning. She’s a role model for young women, es­pe­cially af­ter win­ning a Golden Globe and earn­ing three Academy Award nom­i­na­tions.

Pod­cast

I met Mary Robin­son at the Bri­tish em­bassy dur­ing Prince Harry and Princess Meghan’s visit, and she was telling me about her Moth­ers of In­ven­tion pod­cast with the co­me­dian Maeve Hig­gins. It dis­cusses how cli­mate change af­fects women, and they talk about it in a re­ally re­lat­able way. And I love

Desert Is­land Discs – you re­ally get an in­sight as to who the sub­ject is be­cause it’s an ex­tended in­ter­view.

Film

I don’t get a chance to go to the cin­ema much as most of the time I’m work­ing, but I saw

Mamma Mia 2 and I want to see the Pope Francis doc­u­men­tary, as it will give an in­sight into who he is. I loved The Killing of a Sa­cred

Deer, even though it ter­ri­fied me. The act­ing was so su­perb. Colin Far­rell and Barry Keoghan were fan­tas­tic. It’s about a nor­mal fam­ily of two mar­ried doc­tors, Colin Far­rell and Ni­cole Kid­man, who have a per­fect-look­ing life. He be­friends Barry and it’s about how he in­fil­trates their lives. It’s kind of Hitch cocky and un­set­tling to watch, but com­pelling view­ing.

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