BLOGPublished: Irish Independent, 24 June 2013
“I’m not a whisker off of sixty,” announces Peter Curtin, landlord of the Roadside Tavern, out of the blue and seemingly apropos of nothing. “But once upon a time, in my 20s, I was sitting in Mrs Cullen’s pub in Galway, with a pint of stout in my hand, and me staring into space…”
It’s a warm evening in west Clare. Half an hour ago, I was handed the keys to a Trident holiday home at Lisdoonvarna Village. I dumped my bags, went for a wander around town and, lo and behold, chanced into this little pub/restaurant/JM Synge play-come-to-life.
On a hunch, I pull a dictaphone out of my jacket pocket and set it to record on the bar. Like a Coen brothers movie, the publican’s rambling monologue may well be going somewhere. Or just as well, nowhere at all. Read the rest of this entry »
I went on the radio Tuesday night talking about my trip to Cameroon with Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Sightsavers. The recording is here…
Published: Irish Independent. 3 August 2013
YAOUNDE, CAMEROON. On a swelteringly humid afternoon, a convoy of vehicles carrying a Premier League footballer and his entourage is tearing through the backstreets of this sprawling west African city. Unexpectedly, the lead vehicle arrives at an impasse: a crowded intersection, teeming with people and gridlocked in both directions.
It could be a traffic jam. It could be an impromptu street party. In this country, it’s difficult to tell. I peer out through the passenger-side window, expecting the driver to slow down and negotiate a route through. Instead, he flicks on his hazard lights, pounds hard on the car horn and swerves headlong into oncoming traffic.
Oh, sweet holy mother of Jesus. Motorists, pedestrians and bystanders all scatter for their lives. In the ensuing chaos, a motorcycle is upended. We’re barrelling around at 120kph in a heavily built-up area. I should be really, really terrified here. Instead, I close my eyes and fall asleep. Read the rest of this entry »
Published: Irish Independent, June 22 2013
It’s funny. The marketeers at Failte Ireland probably work long and hard devising strategies to lure visitors to this country: Calibrating the pitch. Honing their message. Carefully positioning our brand in a global marketplace.
Yet 22-year-old Tom Curry, from Junee, New South Wales, chose to holiday here because “you get the Shamrock Shakes all year round here, right?” Read the rest of this entry »
Published: Irish Independent, 25 May 2013
ACCORDING TO HOMER SIMPSON, there are only two types of men who can get away with wearing Hawaiian shirts: gay guys and big fat party animals. Well, I definitely fall into one of those categories. And my friends would argue the jury is still out on the other.
So what the hell? When I’m asked to pose as Oscar Madison for an Odd Couple-themed photo-shoot, I don’t require all that much persuading. Besides, I’m only the writer here. I’d do this thing in blackface if they told me to.
Playing Felix to my Oscar today, however, is a man without quite the same latitude to fly by the seat of his immaculately tailored suit pants. Rob Kearney is a three time Heineken Cup winner, two time British and Irish Lion, a Grand Slam winner with Ireland and (for one day only) my new best friend for life. Read the rest of this entry »
Published: Irish Independent, 4 May 2013
It’s Friday evening. It’s past 5pm. And the capital’s office drones are spilled out on to the city streets, sipping drinks and soaking up the sun. For reasons unclear, this rotund reporter is walking among them: a bald Adonis, decked out in a floral shirt and shorts (from the Mantaray range at Debenhams). This look, I’m told, is set to be the hottest summer fashion craze for men.
Yet the refrain playing on a loop in my head is not a soothing one.
“Something is happening here,” it says. “And you don’t know what it is. Do you, Mr Butler?” Read the rest of this entry »
Published: Irish Independent, March 2 2013
When does a girl become a woman? That may depend upon your cultural or religious persuasion. You’ll get different responses still if you ask a lawyer, an anthropologist, a biologist or Neil Diamond. (“Soon”, I believe, was his line.)
As a male not wishing to offend, I know I’m on dangerous ground here. In 1990s blockbuster movie terms, this isn’t Tom Hanks going behind enemy lines in Saving Private Ryan. This is Bruce Willis crash landing on that meteor in Armageddon. I’m on a suicide mission and I know it. Read the rest of this entry »
Published: Irish Independent, 9 February 2013
So you find yourself alone on Valentine’s Day? It would do us both a disservice for me to mince words here. You’re a screw-up. You’re an abject failure. You are a disgrace to your family, an embarrassment to your friends and a bigger catastrophe for this country than the famine, bank guarantee and Euro 2012 combined.
That’s the conventional wisdom. And as I sit here luxuriating in the one-bedroom glorified garden shed I purchased for €575,000 in 2007, I know that the conventional wisdom is never, ever wrong. But wait, all is not lost. There are still have five days, and five hairbrained schemes, left with which to redeem ourselves. So put on your glad rags, folks, we’re taking the heifer to the mart! Read the rest of this entry »
Published: Irish Independent, January 12 2013
Okay, I have a confession to make. I only agreed to write the 12 Secrets Every Woman Should Know About Men because I needed the work. In this economy, I would mow your lawn if there was money involved.
But I’ll be honest. I’m not sure men have twelve secrets. I’m not even sure we have one. Also, there are about 3.5 billion men. But I only know about a couple dozen of them very well. So it’s hard to make generalisations. Read the rest of this entry »
Published: The Irish Times, 12 January 2013
For rock stars of a certain age, death was once considered a good career move. Not any more. With record sales plummeting, and concert tours by so-called “heritage acts” frequently raking in hundreds of millions of dollars at a time, life has never been more lucrative for the rock n’ roll OAP.
Freddie Mercury would be 66 if he were alive today. Quite how many stadiums Queen would have packed out in the past couple of decades, had the band’s outrageously talented frontman not died in 1991, is a matter for conjecture. Read the rest of this entry »