The Castletroy au­thor on be­ing en­am­oured by Paris, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Ital­ian restau­rants in Lim­er­ick, and where not to eat in Venice

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

Cur­rent­favourite­book I’m read­ing Kerry Neville’s sec­ond col­lec­tion,

Re­mem­ber to For­get Me, and it is a master­class in short fic­tion. I’m de­lighted to say that Kerry is cur­rently teach­ing on our cre­ative writ­ing MA at UL as a Ful­bright scholar. Medbh McGuck­ian’s new po­etry col­lec­tion,

Love, the Ma­gi­cian, is spellbindi­ng.


We have three world-class restau­rants within short walk­ing dis­tance of our house in Castletroy, Lim­er­ick: Tus­cany Bistro and Bella Italia, two fab­u­lous Ital­ians, and Brew Bros, who do the best burg­ers in Ire­land. This is for­tu­itous be­cause I’m nearly al­ways hun­gry, and I love Ital­ian food and burg­ers.


Tommy Tier­nan is a mad ge­nius. I’m also a big fan of Colm O’Re­gan of Ir­ish Mam­mies fame. As well as be­ing spot-on and side-split­tingly funny, his satire is full of af­fec­tion and love. His de­scrip­tion of “Mammy” and “Him­self” pick­ing up a hitch­hiker, and the chang­ing dy­namic in the car be­tween the three of them, is a piece of per­fect com­edy.


Try to catch Ju­dith Ryan’s sear­ing, vis­ceral per­for­mance in Neil Flynn’s Mi­crodis­ney .Or any­thing pro­duced by Lim­er­ick’s Bot­tom Dog Theatre Com­pany – their shows are con­sis­tently bril­liant.


Out­side of beau­ti­ful Lim­er­ick the only city I’ve spent any sig­nif­i­cant amount of time in is Paris, and I love all the cof­fee-drink­ing and shrug­ging and fag-smok­ing. I love Venice, too, even though it gets crazily crowded, and it’s sink­ing, and it’s cov­ered in pi­geon-poop, and ev­ery­thing is over­priced.

I tried to be the Big-I-Am one time and went to Harry’s Bar with Anne Marie be­cause Hem­ing­way used to go there and Michael Win­ner had said in his Sun­day Times col­umn that it was the best restau­rant in the world. But the cheap­est thing on the menu was more than my credit card limit and we were get­ting mar­ried a few months later so we had a bellini each and legged it.


I love Damien Dempsey’s To Hell or Bar­ba­dos. I’ve seen him live loads of times and he’s al­ways awe­some. I love the way he talks about his­tory and the way he reads and con­stantly ed­u­cates him­self, then un­leashes his re­ac­tion to what he’s learned and ex­pe­ri­enced in this stun­ningly pow­er­ful, beau­ti­ful way. And his song Your Pretty Smile could have been writ­ten about Anne Marie. I sang the cho­rus to her in 2007 and told her that I wrote it for her. I was be­trayed by Damien a few days later when he came on the ra­dio singing it. I felt ter­ri­ble be­cause I’d done it as a joke but she was re­ally dis­ap­pointed and not at all amused.


Tom Vaughan-Lawlor is an in­cred­i­ble ac­tor. As Nidge in Love/Hate I think he turned in one of the best per­for­mances in Ir­ish TV his­tory. I’ve ar­gued that Love/Hate out­did The

So­pra­nos (which I think was one of the best TV shows ever made) in sev­eral ways. My stance on this has been at­tacked and I have been per­son­ally poo-pooed for it, but I will never back down.

TV show

I loved Love/Hate, as men­tioned. The Young Of­fend­ers is just fan­tas­tic, a scream, bril­liantly writ­ten and acted. The episode where Billy Mur­phy hi­jacks the bus is one of the high­lights of my long and il­lus­tri­ous TV-watch­ing ca­reer.


I just watched The Lady in the Van, the true story of a wo­man who lived in a clapped-out van in play­wright Alan Ben­nett’s drive­way for 15 years. I’m sur­prised Mag­gie Smith didn’t get an Oscar for it.

■ Donal Ryan is an am­bas­sador for the in­au­gu­ral Ir­ishBookWee­k,which­take­splaceacro­ssIre­land from Oc­to­ber 27th to Novem­ber 3rd. His novel Fro­maLowandQu­i­etSea is out now

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