Saying the unsayable at the Iftas: ‘Do you know who I am?’

He snapped back something unapologetic and unmoved. Tight trousers stopped three inches above a shoe-line that seemed untroubled by anything so old-fashioned as socks. I will admit that my accreditation was not visible, but nothing about my demeanour suggested I might be a dangerous vagrant. Before The Incident occurred I had already grabbed a few quotes from passing celebrities. “Sorry?” I said. He assumed implausible, near-psychotic friendliness with any celebrity deemed sunny enough to appeal to MonkeyJerk.com’s key demographic. This year, the bash took place at the Mansion House in Dublin. Of course, that’s not going to happen. I am, of course, thinking of the person who asks the question rhetorically when seeking entry to a restaurant, nightclub or airport lounge. To the Irish Film and Television Awards (Iftas). Ha ha ha!”  “Are you press,” he replied. Never mind those endless dispatches from war zones. The little… “I am Donald Clarke from The Irish Times,” I boomed in a Old Testament timbre. The Irish Times was in attendance. The nation could relax. Doesn’t matter. Forget that. What’s his problem, anyway? Let me set minds at rest. Written down, the words may seem more pompous than they sounded spoken aloud. To this point, I hadn’t wholly grasped what was going on. Worse still, this colleague turned out to be me. Something about the Clarke package – baldness, articulacy, the presence of socks – had singled its bearer out as unworthy to ask Sinead Crowley where she bought her handbag. You’re a pompous, entitled turd who thinks that imagined social status gives you rights not accorded everyday serfs. More than anything, I resented the fact that I had been driven so close to “Do you know who I am?” He knows who I am now. Then again, they probably don’t. (Don’t bet against it.) I then said something that I don’t now remember. At any rate, there was no sense of regret, apology or recognition from this future host of the Late Late Show. Tl;dr, mate. He was dressed like a Billy Barry Kid impersonating the late music-hall star Max Wall. “I’m aware of that,” I said. Baby Max Wall looked me up and down incredulously. “Look upon my works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!” Okay, I didn’t really spit out the second bit, but I don’t imagine he would have been any more moved if I’d worked my way through all four …

At Your Service review: survival of the fittest when “food will eat you up and spit you out”

Previously, they have even sent spies into B&Bs to give unvarnished reports. Sure enough, they ignore his advice, and turn the car-park into an oven (“The warmest car-park in the history of the state,” remarks John, dryly), fail to install the actual one, and lose the lovely Italian chefs – albeit temporarily. Each week on At Your Service (RTÉ One, Sunday, 8.30pm) – the business makeover show that  has modestly become a fixture of RTÉ since 2008 – Francis and John Brennan step out for a brief confab to review the situation. “Food will eat you up and spit you out,” he tells the couple, a photographer and interior designer building a new restaurant on their grounds. The Fennells just about pull it together in the end, and it’s heartening to see John delivering plates during an opening-night crisis, or Francis gamely apologising for delays. Don’t ever change. So much of its verve is taken up with trying to shake some sense into the clients. The show wouldn’t be so entertaining, of course, if this sensible advice was taken without resistance. Four out of every five restaurants close, John reminds the Fennells soberly, which sends you scuttling on to Trip Advisor, reassured to see that, six months later, The Green Barn is still going. The irony of the show is that it offers this message within a reassuring formula, unaltering and somehow still sincere. Here, they exchange notes as they leave their first meeting with James and Joanna Fennell at Burtown House, a grand old pile built in 1710, which is still owned by descendants of the original family but is struggling to survive. It’s hard to decide if these familiar and worried brotherly consultations more closely resemble scenes from an old police procedural, like Dragnet, in which detectives glower together over intractable investigations (“Something about that widow just doesn’t add up”), or the gods of a Harryhausen film, staring into the pools of Mount Olympus wondering about the deluded ways of mortals below. There is something instructive about the efficiencies of the show itself, though, filmed over long periods (in this instance six months) to provide 25 minutes of easily absorbing television. “Absolutely,” replies Francis, the show’s flamboyant star. “I have said my piece,” he concludes, after stern appeals to reposition a car-park, abandon plans for a pizza oven, and not rely on the commitment of their “lovely Italian chefs”. …

‘Home is the most difficult of imaginings, perhaps, after love itself’

A similar theme crops up in poems and stories that deal with the Northern Irish experience in England. We assume that those who stay at home must necessarily feel at home, fixed in a single location, unchanged by the journeys of others. The volume ends with Alrene Hughes’ Soda Bread, a wry meditation on the relationship between food, memory and displacement: Visiting relatives brought presents Floury farls of soda bread Twisted in tissue paper A taste of home. We forget too that a person can be in place geographically but out of place spiritually and emotionally, and that for those who experience home as a site of neglect, abuse or violence, leaving it can be the first step towards recovery and growth. Novelist Mike McCormack led the workshop in the Linenhall Arts Centre in Castlebar, poet Moyra Donaldson took charge of the one in the Belfast Central Library, and the Irish Times poetry columnist John McAuliffe led the workshop at the Irish World Heritage Centre in Manchester. For the migrant men in Ger Reidy’s short story Maybe It’s Because I’m a Londoner and Séamus McNally’s Ebb and Flow, home is synonymous with unresolved tensions and family conflicts over land and inheritance. In Home, Susannah Dickey writes: I stumble and stutter and strive for acceptance. These complexities are nicely captured by Annette Sills in her short story See-saw, in which the see-saw in question comes to symbolise a young Wigan girl’s desire to balance her English and Irish identities and restore some harmony and stability to her parents’ volatile relationship. A similar theme is broached in Bernadette Davies-McGreal’s Homecoming, How Ar’ Ya!, in which she recalls how her father’s attempt to relocate from London to his Clew Bay parish ended with him “staring at a padlocked gate leading to his beloved home”. The natives look on with interest at me, the invasive species. My vowels, flat and heavy, permeate the dense air. Map of Little Ireland, Manchester, 1849 Languages, accents and speech patterns are carried across borders by migrants; so too are material things, from everyday items to treasured heirlooms to which layers of memory are attached. “Wheaten and soda farls, pancakes and slims made on the griddle. Where once there was sanctuary, continuity and the familiarity of the fixed ground, there is now contingency, relativism and the forbidding, invigorating possibility of a fresh beginning. Whether chosen or coerced, an individual’s …

Prince mysteries: who are his heirs and where did he get the drugs?

The DEA, for example, decided in October to reduce by 25 per cent the amount of opioids that could be manufactured in the United States. Photograph: Ackerman + Gruber/The New York Times Just a couple of weeks from the anniversary of his death, on April 21st, here’s what is known about the various pieces of the mystery based on an array of recent interviews Investigators still mum Pharmacy records. One was Dr Michael T Schulenberg, who treated Prince before his death and arrived at the musician’s house on the day he died with test results, only to find him dead. Schulenberg, who left his post at North Memorial Health Care in the days after Prince’s death, is now employed at another clinic. Given that deception, said Kent Bailey, assistant special agent in charge at the Minneapolis office of the DEA, a vast majority of people who use fentanyl think they are taking something much milder. It sucks you in’ Prince’s music catalogue set for release on streaming services Once focal, now largely forgotten In the days after Prince died, two doctors became figures in the drama. You never get past it. Andrew provided his own perspective in a first-person article for CNN’s website last year. “ Prince’s death has raised the profile of the opioid crisis even further,” said Dr Chris Johnson, chairman of the Minnesota Department of Human Services Opioid Prescribing Work Group. “He has had no further requests from any investigators following his voluntary interview with the Carver County Sheriff’s office on April 21st, 2016.” Judge Kevin W Eide has settled on six of Prince’s siblings and half-siblings as his likely heirs. Kornfeld’s son, Andrew, arrived at Paisley Park after Prince had died with a small dose of the drug Suboxone, an anti-addiction agent, which he was not legally authorized to administer. This much is clear: Prince suffered from chronic hip pain, and that may have set him on a course to find relief. The other was Dr Howard Kornfeld, a California opioid addiction specialist, who had been called in by a friend of Prince to treat the musician for his dependency. There are only so many places investigators can look for information on how Prince may have acquired the fentanyl that killed him. If Prince’s fentanyl came from the black market – which appears clear, because investigators do not seem to have turned up a prescription – …

Nothing on Earth: a kind of ghost story on a ghost estate

But the novel, as in all good ghost stories, is also about a state of mind, in particular the state of mind of the person who tells us his part of the story But the novel, as in all good ghost stories, is also about a state of mind, in particular the state of mind of the person who tells us his part of the story. Or is he a sexual predator? Should we trust this priest, Conor O’Callaghan seems to be asking. A rootless half-life roaming ghost estates Nothing on Earth by Conor O’Callaghan: an original story, brilliantly told Nothing on Earth by Conor O’Callaghan: April’s Irish Times Book Club choice As critic Brad Leithauser has put it: “The reader in effect becomes a jury of one. The narrator is a young woman, a parson’s daughter (an important detail), who is engaged as a governess in a remote English country house. It is only as we read on that we realise the significance of his position. If they’re illusions, then we are seeing a disturbing manifestation of her interior state, suggesting a suppressed sexual hysteria. But O’Callaghan turns it into a metaphor, and then like all great fiction, he pursues the metaphor to its logical conclusion. I will not wear their scapegoat’s crown of thorns.” – Or is he in such deep denial that he has manufactured an elaborate fictional edifice to hide an unspecified guilt? That’s where the reader comes in. Eileen Battersby interviews Conor O’Callaghan at the Irish Writers Centre in Dublin’s Parnell Square on Wednesday, April 26th, at 7.30pm. It will be available as a podcast on April 30th. Nothing on Earth was released in paperback last month by Black Swan Ireland, priced £7.99. This priest manifests all our anxieties and suspicions about the Catholic clergy in the light of the sexual abuse scandals. We see the priest struggling with his own sexually ambiguous feelings as he realises the optics of his situation – a middle-aged cleric left alone with a vulnerable charge. Should we trust any priest? Nothing on Earth is his first novel We see the events through the governess’s eyes. The girl is presented as both helpless and strangely powerful, needy and self-contained, childish and sexually precocious, victim and agent. My novel’s roots? Photograph: Eve O’Callaghan It seems to me that Nothing on Earth, among other tropes, explores the position of the priest in Irish society. Isolated …

Pop Corner: Harry Styles surprises, Demi Lovato stays clean

Hero of the week is Demi Lovato, who celebrated five years of sobriety recently. I’m so proud of myself but I couldn’t have done it without my higher power (God), my family, friends, and everyone else who supported me. Congratulations. The thing with her is she’s a different thing, she’s just good at it, I like how she does everything, it looks very nice… For my 21st she gave me one of her albums 21 and said ‘I did some pretty cool stuff when I was 21, good luck’ and I was like, geez.’” Zero of the week are legal issues, according to Vanessa The Saturdays. Our verdict: we’re quietly confident, but are keeping our ears open for the follow-up track. The silver lining is it’s given me something to write about. I used to get so scared of going in the studio with people I didn’t know but now, you could put me anywhere and I’d be fine.” NOW CLICK HERE To listen to the full Harry Styles interview on Radio One In further Harry Styles news, he told BBC Radio 1 that Adele has been giving him advice. “I think she leads by example, she’s the biggest, she’s amazing she’s the best so she should be the biggest. Thank you guys for sticking by my side and believing in me”. TRACK OF THE WEEK Harry Styles – Sign of the Times A far cry from One Direction, or the 1970s dad rock that the internet was whispering about, Sign of the Times is a bit “end credits of a film about a divorcing couple who are now sad about love but maybe hopeful too?” Don’t get us wrong, it’s a grower, and Harry sounds great, with a Bowie hat-tip and a lovely string section. So I’ve basically had to start again, which is why it’s taken this long. She told the BBC that her upcoming EP has been delayed due to some problems. Feeling humbled and joyful today. “There were certain songs I loved that I couldn’t use any more. I’m in a much better position now, mentally. She wrote on Instagram: “So many times, I wanted to relapse but sat on my hands and begged God to relieve the obsession.

Hidden Aeons: Searching for a literary relic

manuscripts in special collections. will give you confidence, will comfort you. Though dated 6 November 1888, it appeared in the December 1888 issue of Lucifer, the society’s monthly journal edited by Blavatsky, and is generally considered the first time Russell used his new identity in print. There was a book lying open there. I trembled through my body: Æon. – An “eternal being”; the name given to the “emanations” from the Supreme Being in the Gnostic system. The preface by Benham is dated March 1887, and so the book was probably published during late spring or early summer of that year. Whatever may or may not have occurred in the National Library in the 1880s, one thing is for certain: George William Russell had become A.E. or how best to cultivate bees? I left the library that afternoon pleased that I had found and held in my hands a unique volume, one that rested inconspicuously in the stacks of the National Library for well over a century A.E. I conducted a search for book titles containing the words “dictionary of religion” published between the years 1780 and 1890. I took a desk in the reading room and switched on the green-shaded Emeralite lamp. R.M. Kain) But by the close of the twentieth century, A.E. did in fact consult Benham’s Dictionary of Religion, and that later recollections were an intentional conflation of events for the purpose of self-mythologising – something of which his kindred soul W.B. Go see A.E. A book which I hoped might be removed from the general collection and re-catalogued with the A.E. Go see A.E. A second letter to Blavatsky signed “A.E.”, apparently written in December 1888, appeared in the January 1889 issue. My wholly unsubstantiated intuition tells me that A.E. etc.” I scribbled the call number (203 b1) onto the slip and waited for the book to arrive. The other option was the aptly titled Dictionary of Religion (Cassell, 1887) edited by the Rev. The building that housed the Metropolitan School of Art, now non-extant, at the time stood across the road from the library. Alas, this elation would last only until I got home to my own library, and from these otherwise faithful volumes a single uncertainty emerged… www.swanriverpress.ie What to make of this? However, that Russell initially requested an art journal is not surprising. A.E. He both signed himself with the letters separated, and …

Prince’s death: unsolved mysteries, one year on

Among other things, Eide cited bitter disagreement about the qualifications of McMillan and Jones by the six presumptive heirs, who have split into two camps, four favoring McMillan and two favoring Jones. The estate includes $25 million in real estate holdings and, among other liquid assets, 67 gold bars. On February 1st, however, Comerica Bank & Trust took over as administrator, and the judge rejected efforts by two high-profile lawyers – L Londell McMillan, who once represented Prince, and Van Jones, the CNN political commentator – to become personal representatives, a position similar to executor. How did he come into possession of the powerful opioid fentanyl, which killed him in what the coroner ruled was an accidental overdose? But now those traps have been checked, no one has been arrested, and after a year, the going can get a bit tougher. Tributes and memorials dedicated to Prince on the fence that surrounds Paisley Park on May 2nd, 2016 in Chaska, Minnesota. But now those traps have been checked, no one has been arrested, and after a year, the going can get a bit tougher As recently as February, the inquiry was active, according to a friend of Prince who was contacted at that time by a DEA investigator. Howard Kornfeld continues to run a treatment center in California, and his son is now applying to medical schools. He has not said what medication he prescribed for Prince, but there has been no indication from investigators that it was an opiate. But those efforts came too late to save Prince, whose departure left a huge void for fans, friends and those he had worked with. You never get past it. “He has had no further requests from any investigators following his voluntary interview with the Carver County Sheriff’s office on April 21st, 2016.” Judge Kevin W Eide has settled on six of Prince’s siblings and half-siblings as his likely heirs. “It’s a big hole,” said Van Jones, a political commentator and activist who was a friend of Prince’s. The DEA, for example, decided in October to reduce by 25 per cent the amount of opioids that could be manufactured in the United States. “Even though Prince’s final dose and exit was illicit,” Johnson said, “the reason he needed it was because of the years of prescriptions that got him on that path.” Estate “mayhem” eases, but disputes persist After a year …

AEIOU: Ireland’s debt to George Russell

Rejecting an offer of a seat in the Irish Senate, Russell set out as editor of the Irish Statesman to foster an informed public opinion in Ireland. Ireland, he argued, needed fewer men of action and more scholars, economists and thinkers whose ideas could “populate the desert depths of national consciousness”. His concluding stanza recalls “the confluence of dreams” That clashed together in our night One river, born from many streams, Roll in one blaze of blinding light. He will deliver a talk on AE at the National Library at 7pm this evening. Censorship would, he argued, give power to its exponents “to interfere with the intellectual life of the country”. There was genuine need for his sober arguments and his literary gifts – as a dogged commentator rather than an inspirational poet – when modern Ireland was being pieced together in the decades before and after independence. AE was, in the words of a 1979 Irish Times editorial, “a great but gentle dissenter”. This made Russell conclude that the roots of the Easter Rising lay in the grievances of Dublin’s poor, but he also worried about its destructive impact on Ireland’s economic prospects which he had laboured to promote through his involvement in the co-operative movement. Joyce himself had benefited from AE’s literary (and no doubt financial) support as his first short stories were published in the Irish Homestead, which he edited from 1905 to 1923. Rejecting an offer of a seat in the Irish Senate, Russell set out as editor of the Irish Statesman to foster an informed public opinion in Ireland. He backed this up with his most ambitious public poem, To the memory of some I knew who are dead and who loved Ireland, whose outstanding feature is its inclusiveness. A left-leaning AE never embraced the aristocratic, authoritarian nationalism of Yeats’s later years and nor did he subscribe to his friend’s enchantment with the Anglo-Irish tradition The truth about AE is that he was not all like WB Yeats and nor does Joyce’s jocose portrayal do him justice.   Daniel Mulhall has contributed a biographical afterword to a new edition of AE’s Selected Poems, published today by the Swan River Press. In December 1917, he made an impassioned plea for national unity, believing that “there is but one powerful Irish character – not Celtic or Norman-Saxon, but a new race”. He was sharply critical of those …

Imní ar phobal na Rosann faoi fheirmeacha oisrí

Tá an coiste ag reáchtáil dhá imeacht ag deireadh seachtaine na Cásca lena mbuairt faoin tionscnamh a phoibliú. Cheadaigh an Roinn ceithre cheadúnas le feirmeacha oisrí a fhorbairt sa réigiún ar na mallaibh. Is é dóchas an choiste go mbaileoidh daoine ar thaobh na Bráda agus ar thaobh Rann na Feirste le siúl suas an trá agus isteach go hAnagaire. Tá Coiste Timpeallachta an Ghaoith bunaithe le cás an phobail a chur chun cinn. Tá imní orthu go ndéanfar dochar d’áilleacht an cheantair, ceantar atá aitheanta mar Limistéar faoi Chaomhnú Speisialta, agus do chúrsaí turasóireachta. Creideann mórán den phobal áitiúil go mbeidh de thoradh ar chinneadh seo na Roinne go mbeidh feirmeacha oisrí ag clúdach beagnach 100 acra den trá idir Rann na Feirste, an Bhráid agus an Charraig Fhinn. Glacfaidh Dónal Lunny, Paddy Glackin, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Moya Ní Bhraonáin, Mairéad Ní Dhomhnaill, Caitríona Ní Dhomhnaill, Mánus Lunny, Connie Mhary Mhicí, Emma Ní Fhíoruisce agus Clann Mhic Ruairí páirt ann. Beidh ‘siúlóid agóide’ ar siúl Dé Sathairn 15ú Aibreán ag 3pm. Lena chois sin, beidh coirmcheoil in Áislann Rann na Feirste Luan Cásca, 17ú Aibreán, ag 8pm. Tá pobal i nGaeltacht Íochtair na Rosann in achrann le Roinn Talmhaíochta, Bia agus Mara faoi mhéadú atá le teacht ar fheirmeacha oisrí sa cheantar.

Ealaín an Earraigh in Ard Mhacha ársa

(Dá mbíodh Gaeilge ag lucht an eagraithe, thiocfadh leo “Ón ardchathair go hArd Mhacha” a thabhairt ar an taispeántas. Bhí spéis ag Russell i gcúrsaí miotaseolaíochta na hÉireann – mar a bhí ag mórán dá aicme an t-am sin. Róluath ag lucht cruicéid atá sé agus tá a bhfaiche imeartha faoi thost, gan le feiceáil air ach an snag breac. Tá roinnt pictiúr dá chuid ar taispeáint den chéad uair sa cheantar, saothar atá ar iasacht ó Choláiste na Tríonóide. Cá bhfios cad é a d’éirigh dóibh sa deireadh? An talamh. Tá siad, bhuel, rud beag amaitéarach ag amharc, dréachtaí atá iontu beagnach, réamhobair, iarrachtaí leis an tsamhlaíocht Cheilteach a fhíorú ar an chanbhás. Cá bhfuil an bhá sin anois leis an teanga, leis an chultúr, i measc mheánaicme na hÉireann sa lá atá inniu ann? É a shaothrú. Tá an ghrian ag soilsiú ach tá bearradh fuar ar an lá. Tá scian bheag, déanta as breochloch, ar taispeáint sa tseomra in aice le pictiúir Russell. Sea, slabhra casta fada atá sna healaíona. Is minic a chaithim seal ag amharc ar The Potato Gatherers má bhím ar an bhaile. Mochmhaidin Aibreáin in Ard Mhacha. Cuireann an athchuimhne sin iontas ort. Í a chruthú. Ní thig leat aghaidheanna na mban a fheiceáil; tá na dathanna dorcha ach mothaíonn tú an dua a bhaineann leis an obair mhaslach. Mistéir Tá an tsuim sin i mistéir na seanscéalta le sonrú i saothar Russell. Ní sráid mhór ghustalach atá ann ach ceann lán siopaí beaga, tithe tábhairne, gnólachtaí beaga. Tá rud amháin eile san iarsmalann a chorraíonn an croí. Deirtear go bhfuil taisí Bhrian Bóramha ina luí san ardeaglais Phrotastúnach. Tá sé amuigh ar Patrick Kavanagh, file, gur mhol sé Russell as a chineáltas – moladh nach beag ag fear Mhuineacháin nó ní raibh cáil an chineáltais air féin. É a chur. Ní dhéantar mórán poiblíochta faoi sin, más ea. Imíonn an t-am agus na daoine ach maireann obair an ealaíontóra; maireann an saothar a chruthaítear. Iad a chothú. Ionad ársa é Ard Mhacha. Is fearr liom na pictiúir de cuid Russell atá ar buantaispeáint san iarsmalann cheana féin. An práta. Measann na saineolaithe go ndearnadh an scian bheag seo 3,000 bliain roimh Chríost agus thánagthas uirthi go háitiúil. Déanta na fírinne, níl a fhios agam an gcuirfeadh daoine mórán spéise sna pictiúir seo murach ainm Russell bheith luaite leo. Beirt bhan agus iad …

An taibhreamh

‘Féach,’ arsa Pontius, nach raibh spéis ar bith aige ar dhroichead a thógáil idir é féin agus ar tharla, ‘ceannairceach ba ea é, sceimhlitheoir, fuair sé an íde a bhí ag dul dó de réir na dlí.’ ‘B’fhéidir,’ ar sise, go mánla, ‘ach ní raibh aon ghá lena sciúirseáil, gabháil d’fhuipeanna ann, an bhordáil uisce sin, bhí ag dul thar fóir.’ ‘Féach, féach,’ agus ba dhroch-chomhartha a bhí ann nuair a dúirt sé rud ar bith faoi dhó, ‘ní thuigeann tusa cúrsaí stáit. Tá an deireadh chugainn!’ Níor dhuine foighneach é Pontius an t-am ab fhearr a bhí sé, agus níorbh é an t-am ab fhearr é a bheith múscailte as a chodladh i lár na hoíche. ‘Cén rámhaillí é sin agat, a bhean? Níos fearr fós ná sin, tabharfar rud éigin, ‘Caipitligh Rómhánacha’, nó rud éigin, orthu! Lig a sheanscairt gháire as: ‘Níl aon mhuinín agat asamsa, a bhean, an bhfuil? Ba ghnách go ndéantaí leis de réir a fhocail. Anois dún do chlab, agus téir a chodladh!’ Spéir amuigh Leis sin, las an spéir amuigh le tintreach, agus chualathas an chré ag ionfairt faoina gcosa. Chuala na nithe a dúirt sé gur h-inseadh iad uile ar fuaid sléibhte Iúdea ar fad. Bhí siad go léir ciontach.’ ‘An duine sin leis an ngruaig fhada. ‘Sin arís é! Má thagann siad riamh i gcumhacht, agus ní thiocfaidh, ná bíodh aon chorrabhuais ort. Abair íoróin!’ Cad tá á rá agat in ainm Iúpatair?’ ‘An duine sin a daoradh chun báis inniu, nach ndúirt mé leat gur duine fíréanta é?’ Ciontach ‘Cén duine? Abair nach gceansófar a lucht leanúna, go n-aiséireoidh siad arís, go dtiocfaidh siad i gcumhacht, go mbunóidh siad scoileanna, go gcuirfear ár gcuid déithe i leataoibh, agus go gcuirfear an milleán orainne ar fad.’ Leis sin dhúisigh Pontius Píolóit ar fad. ‘Ó, mo dhuine,’ ar seisean, ‘ní dúirt sé faic, mar ní raibh faic le rá aige.’ ‘Chuala mise go raibh go leor le rá aige. D’éirigh sé aniar sa leaba. An duine nár labhair faic.’ Agus b’éigean do Phíolóit a chloigeann a thochas ar feadh tamaill chun go dtiocfadh a mheabhair chuige go slán. Smaoinigh mé air sin. Níl ach aon rí amháin ar an áit seo, agus sin Caesar. An duine ar lean an bhailbhe air. Nach ndúirt mé leat go raibh tromluí agam faoi.’ Bhí allas le Procula faoi seo, agus í ina suí go colgdhíreach …

Irish writers pick their favourite pieces of music

We listen as he watches her, his heart’s desire, vivid and elusive as she moves through the fair, stepping away from him, free, happy, lovely. But I particularly like the Madamina aria. The force of his longing conjures up her ghost and again she promises herself to him, only this time her promise – that it will not be long before their wedding day – is chilling. Claire Kilroy Traditional: She Moved Through the Fair This is one of the saddest but most alluring songs ever written. He seems almost helpless in his rapture. The original Irish language version was bawdy and ripalong, whereas the English language version is sad, poignant and nostalgic. Therefore it’s a great honour that Robert McAllister will bring us on that long road down to the wide salty sea. Only death can marry them. It comes relatively early in the plot, so it was great to encounter it and its challenges so early in the job. So is the grave. He does not speak, he does not act, he just gazes. She is waiting. Like the best poetry, it is open and available for interpretation. It has diverse roots. Also it’s a long-standing favourite of mine at parties and family gatherings. It’s so witty and cruel, a great slice of drama, and finding the English words to fit the rhythm – and enough of them to rhyme – was hugely invigorating. I have always loved ghost stories and I dearly love this one which, in its melodic way, haunts me. In death, he finds he is still gazing at her, helpless now in his loss. One of my many faults is that I do sing but I can’t. Colum McCann Traditional: Carrickfergus Carrickfergus is a tune that bridges many traditional divides. There is the observer – the singer – and the observed – his young bride to be. Roddy Doyle Mozart: Madamina, il catalogo e’ questo from Don Giovanni I spent a year translating Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and got to know it well – too well, sometimes. The house had been a tenement in living memory: 80 people had once lived there. Joe O’Connor O’Carolan: Farewell to Music It might seem odd that a piece as poignant and full of emotion as Carolan’s Farewell to Music raises happy memories for me, yet it does. Kit made a bootleg tape recording of the music for me, …