Peter Coo­nan and Marie Mullen

The Irish Times Magazine - - IN CONVERSATION - Peter Coo­nan and Marie Mullen per­form in Ma­rina Carr’s On Raftery’s Hill, in the Abbey Theatre un­til May 8th. abbeythe­atre. ie

When did you last cry? Marie: The older I get, the less I cry. I’d say it was a cou­ple of months ago. Peter: I’m a bit of an emo­tional an­i­mal, so apart from to­day… Marie: You cried to­day in re­hearsals. Peter: Quite re­cent! What was the last gift that you bought? Peter: It was a game of Snap as Gaeilge. Marie: I bought a dress for my daugh­ter in the sales in Marks & Spencer. It’s a beau­ti­ful blue dress. She didn’t ex­pect it – it was on an or­di­nary day. What’s your favourite desti­na­tion to visit? Marie: Copenhagen. It’s just a beau­ti­ful town. I’m not great with sun – I turn puce and peel. It’s re­ally calm and clean and pretty. Peter: For me, it’s Ross­lare, a place I’ve gone to for 30 years with my fam­ily on the same week ev­ery year. I pro­posed to Kim on the beach down there. You go down and eat for four days straight, have singsongs, swim in the sea. It’s a home from home. The kids can run around. What’s your favourite item of cloth­ing? Marie: I don’t know – I wear a lot of black. Peter: I bought a good coat about four or five years ago, in [ Brown Thomas]. I saw a friend with a sim­i­lar one in New York, and I had one I had bought for noth­ing and it was freez­ing, and his looked so warm. I came back and it’s the one time in my life I had a bit of money. Can you guess what the other per­son’s go- to drink is? Peter: I’m go­ing to say wine. Marie: I’m go­ing to say a pint of Guin­ness. Peter: I think you might be red wine. Marie: You’re ab­so­lutely right, it’s the only thing I like to drink. Is there any artist you feel par­tic­u­larly con­nected to right now? Peter: There’s a guy called Sea­mus Fogarty, an Ir­ish singer- song­writer who lives in Lon­don and is from Mayo. I got into him lis­ten­ing to Cil­lian Mur­phy sit­ting in for Iggy Pop on BBC, and he picked out some amaz­ing mu­si­cians. Marie: I’m priv­i­leged to be in the com­pany, oc­ca­sion­ally, of a young piper called Sean McKeon, whose fa­ther is also a won­der­ful piper. I love lis­ten­ing to the way he plays the pipes. I wouldn’t have been a huge tra­di­tional mu­sic fol­lower. My hus­band loves tra­di­tional mu­sic, but for years it didn’t mean any­thing to me. I’m slow glad that now it does. Peter: I must look him up. Marie: It’s like noth­ing else when you lis­ten to a good piper. The tra­di­tional mu­sic scene is so healthy in Dublin. Do you have any tat­toos? Marie: I don’t have any. Peter: Me nei­ther. Marie: I don’t ap­prove, at all! What do you wish you stud­ied more in school? Peter: English. Marie: I did my de­gree through Ir­ish, but the English lit­er­a­ture side of me was very much in need of de­vel­op­ing. I got a lot of help in the Sev­en­ties from Garry Hynes and Mick Lally, who had both stud­ied English in col­lege. When we would dis­cuss plays – I was 22 at the time – how they were writ­ten, why they were writ­ten, I got a great ba­sis in the his­tory of English lit­er­a­ture. Ev­ery since then I’ve al­ways wanted to study it. Peter: I went to an all- Ir­ish school. Be­ing in Ir­ish schools since the age of four, I’m not sure I would have had the con­fi­dence to go and study it. What is your spirit an­i­mal? Peter: A fish. Marie: I never thought about that be­fore. I would say a hare. Some­thing that gets star­tled in the head­lights. What book do you keep re­turn­ing to? Marie: There’s a book I keep dip­ping into for years. It’s all raggedy now. John McGa­h­ern’s Love of the World. It’s the kind of thing you can dip into on the train and then leave it. Peter: For me the one I al­ways dip into is The Old Man and the Sea. There’s some­thing about the con­nec­tion be­tween him and the boy, and I love the sim­plic­ity of the re­la­tion­ship peo­ple have with the sea. What’s the worst ad­vice you’ve ever been given? Peter: “Get a job.” Marie: There’s prob­a­bly loads but I didn’t in­ter­pret it as bad ad­vice. I re­mem­ber when I started off as an ac­tress that I didn’t have to go into an of­fice. But when I’d be go­ing in to do a show in the evening, all the nine- to- fivers would be go­ing home with their dry clean­ing and a bag of shop­ping, and it would be wet and raining and I’m go­ing into the theatre to do a show, think­ing, “just want to go home and sit by my fire!” What do you worry about this most? Peter: My chil­dren. Marie: My chil­dren. They’re both in col­lege at the mo­ment. I don’t worry so much, I just hope they get a grab on what­ever it might be that makes them happy in the world. I’m pre­oc­cu­pied with that. Peter: I’m the same. Just that they be happy. I want to make sure they get the same amount of love and sup­port that I got. What do you think is your most dom­i­nant per­son­al­ity trait? Marie: If I were to be hon­est, I think some­times I can be very nar­row- minded, too judg­men­tal too quickly. It’s prob­a­bly a fear thing. There is that el­e­ment to me, to jump in quickly and say “no”. I’m con­stantly fight­ing with my­self to be a de­cent per­son. Peter: I’ve got so many things that are bad! Marie: But you’re great fun! Divil­ment. Peter: Maybe divil­ment might be it.

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