The popularity of head shops also coincided with a fall in cocaine use. The economy was slipping, and as Robin Williams once told us, “Cocaine is God’s way of telling you you are making too much money”. When the shops closed, the illegal drug trade picked up the slack. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Nobody – aside from criminals – benefits from drug prohibition

Go big or go home: the Swedish agency Forsman & Bodenfors got Jean-Claude Van Damme to do the splits in its Volvo trucks ad

Featuring Tomi Ungerer, Forsman & Bodenfors, Snask, Niels Shoe Meulman, Veronica Ditting and Ian Anderson of the Designers Republi(...)

‘When the beating of Rodney King (above) was filmed and broadcast, it felt like an extraordinary event.’ Una Mullally  on how  filming acts of violence has become terrifyingly common.  Photograph: J Emilio Flores/The New York Times

What was once alarming is now seen as ‘content’ in our film-everything culture

In celebrations of Women’s Day, we asked Dublin band Bitch Falcon to compile their ultimate playlist of female songmakers

In honour of International Women's Day 2015, Una Mullally lists seven classic records that need to be given the full live treatmen(...)

The recent event ahead of Offset in the Twisted Pepper, Dublin

A recent event gave newcomers a chance to learn from some of the smartest women in the local creative industries

Taking flight: There is something sad about the prospect of Aer Lingus flying the nest. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Scratch the surface of many ‘Irish’ brands and you’ll find they’re owned by faceless multinationals

Anatomy of an advert: Mobile phone company Three had their Christmas advert filmed in the Artic circle

The advertising industry produces some cutting-edge art. Two of the creatives who’ll be at the Offset conference explain how their(...)

Adult Swim are at it again, this time with John C Reilly packing shopping bags

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras.  ‘Syriza did what so many other leftist political groups have failed to do, and that’s form a coalition.’  Photograph: Simela Pantzartzi/EPA.

Watching Greece assert itself, regardless of the outcome, is encouraging

“A society with a greedy generation, that doesn’t want to surround itself with children, that considers them above all worrisome, a weight, a risk, is a depressed society,” said the pope last week. Photograph: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini

Pope Francis said couples who don’t have children are ‘selfish’ and part of ‘greedy’ generation

Behind the scenes: Kate Hudson prepares to go onstage at the Dolby Theatre in 2014. by Christopher Polk/Getty
Backstage at the Oscars

Do you really end up having a laugh with George Clooney? Or becoming best friends with Jennifer Lawrence in the ladies’ loos? Mark(...)

‘You can find dozens of articles and news pieces online examining the “phenomenon” of vocal fry, but my personal favourite is the ABC News headline, “The debilitating speaking disorder afflicting North American women”.’

Vocal fry is a creak that sometimes happens at the end of a sentence or a statement when you’re talking

‘I’ve been attacked in the capital a few times, mostly gay-bashing incidents’

‘If you confront violence in a successful way, chances are the perpetrators will think twice before they attack someone again’

 ‘What’s slightly tricky to understand about Coláiste Eoin and Coláiste Íosagáin, secondary schools on the Stillorgan Road in Dublin, is that they are both linked and separate.’ Above, pupils arriving at Coláiste Eoin, Stillorgan, Co Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

‘If parents are genuinely perturbed by the idea of anti-homophobic bullying initiatives, then perhaps they too would benefit from (...)

The Gender Recognition Bill will allow transgender people to have their status recognised by the State for all purposes – including the right to marry or enter a civil partnership and the right to a new birth certificate.

While the Gender Recognition Bill is welcome, there are huge shortcomings

Most LGBT people won’t have to come out on radio like Minister for Health Leo Varadkar, but there is still pressure involved in the process.  File photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

For most in LGBT community coming out is a positive experience but problems remain

Theatre Machine: ‘It’s brilliant for young companies to test their work in an environment that’s not necessarily final or complete. It’s so important to have someone in to see your stuff before going into a final production’

Each evening, audiences pay €14 to see four short works in progress. You might see a disaster or an embryonic hit

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar with Miriam O’Callaghan in RTÉ yesterday when he announced he is gay. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Role models such as the Minister for Health show being gay is not a hindrance in Irish society

Aaron Paul: dreams of being born. Photograph: Robbie Reynolds

The actor, best known for his role in Breaking Bad, was in Dublin recently, so we put a fat stack of short, sharp questions to him

People hold panels to create the eyes of late Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier, known as “Charb”, as French citizens take part in a solidarity march (Marche Republicaine) in the streets of Paris on Sunday. Photograph: Reuters/Yves Herman

Given its stranglehold on societies for generations, religion should be poked and prodded

‘As for the cheapness of Wetherspoons’ alcohol, why is this being met with no opposition when there has been a national conversation for decades about excessive consumption of alcohol, a level of consumption that is directly linked to the cost of that alcohol?’ Above, a JD Wetherspoon  pub in London. Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

Opinion: pubs are one of our biggest draws for visitors and natives alike

A resolution for RTÉ: since Santa brought Montrose the early Christmas present of Ray D’Arcy, the station now has to figure out how to maximise his talent. Here’s a resolution for it: give him a big TV gig.

‘Abstinence and cutting back are tough enough at the best of times, but in grim January, it’s even more torturous’

Damien Rice’s scorched singing lit up Other Voices. Photograph: Rich Gilligan

The open, authentic Dingle festival shows no sign of losing its Midas touch despite a drop-off in media attention

Dolly Parton singing ’9 to 5’ at Glastonbury was amazing

Get off Facebook: Social media turns everything into a competition. Photograph: Getty Images

Seven steps to give yourself an online break

By pulling The Interview Hollywood has cowered. Its stubbled, sweating action heroes now appear more ludicrous than ever. Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA

It may be a ‘silly comedy’ but allowing it to be censored sets a terrible precedent

James Vincent McMorrow. Photograph: Ben Houdijk

Musicians, labels, promoters and fans can all take credit for a perfect storm of factors that made 2014 a special year for music (...)

‘The Christmas lights are twinkling and the cocktail glasses are clinking, but there are endless streams of people begging.’ Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

‘The public has become a Simon Cowell to the Government’s ‘X Factor’. Ministers stand up and perform, and we slate them . . . If w(...)

Main Street, Dingle. Lyrics and lyricism are central to this gem of an event

Other Voices is a gem in Dingle with free gigs in pubs and a programme of concerts in a church

Ciarán Clark: ‘We all had the idea to make it into a proper library.’ Photograph: Alan Betson

Ciarán Clark has brought the Outhouse centre’s library back to life and created a city centre gem in the process

Connected, which has won RTÉ2 legions of female fans

A year and a half into the job, RTÉ2 channel controller Bill Malone is claiming some victories in persuading younger audiences an(...)

‘I wrote about the ramifications of a ruling the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland made on the Derek Mooney show Mooney Goes Wild, where a discussion on marriage equality took place.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne

‘I have been told by national radio stations that in order to discuss my history book, there must be someone present who opposes (...)

Civil partnership battle: in 2007 the Greens and Fianna Fáil fought over equal treatment. Photograph: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty

A new oral history book by the ‘Irish Times’ columnist Una Mullally looks back on the long campaign that led to the upcoming refer(...)

A small crowd of regular punters were split between thinking the whole episode was bizarre and reflecting how incredible it was that the head of the Government could casually have a pint in a gay bar

Taoiseach’s appearance in Pantibar showed a widening acceptance of LGBT issues

What's tickling our cultural fancy this week

Naeshee Rice at  a rally at the Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland, Ohio, this week. Photograph: EPA/DAVID MAXWELL

‘If you want to look at inequality in America, look at East St Louis’

Soundtrack to an era: Joni Mitchell in the 1970s. Photograph: Henry Diltz/Rhino

The singer-songwriter, whose new box set is a reworked retrospective of her career, is still refreshingly out of sync with the ti(...)

Jamie Dornan, who plays a serial killer in television drama The Fall. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Opinion: it’s difficult to talk about male victims when men are so often depicted as perpetrators

Shocking attack on woman in Drogheda this week will no doubt instil fear in other women, not least because gardaí in Drogheda have advised people “not to jog alone” in the aftermath of the attack.

Comment: Garda statements tend to be victim-centric rather than focusing on attackers

Authors and broadcasters recommendations for all types

‘I’d imagine Government is absolutely raging that the term “water charges” ever even gained traction, that they never managed to call it the Water Support System, or the Facilitatory Programme for Liquid Assets.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Opinion: ‘A Quit Yizzer Protesting Here’s A Hundred Quid Initiative (QYPHAHQI) would have less of a ring to it’

As the video flicks through genres; family sitcoms, a cheesy adventure cartoon, a melodrama about rich people, a detective show, a cop show, it descends into a murder bonanza as a serial killer stalks each genre.

Before you read this, you’ll need to watch Adult Swim's latest viral sensation Too Many Cooks

Next spring, 2.2 million addresses in Ireland are going to be assigned a new seven-digit postcode. Photograph: Getty Images

Opinion: Confusion around Eircode is best exposed by looking at its own website

Pro-choice activists at Connolly station, Dublin, after they took a train from Dublin to Belfast to bring back abortion pills unavailable in the Republic. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Opinion: ‘Women need to utilise all their creativity and provocative skills and solidarity’

Damien Rice: “Once I got to that place and I started fixing the things inside, everything changed”

On the eve of the release of My Favourite Faded Fantasy, Reykjavik resident Rice talks to us

‘The image of Enda Kenny hugging Maíria Cahill outside Government Buildings was a moment – no matter how orchestrated – that showed something politics rarely displays: tenderness.’ Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Opinion: On the same day Maíria Cahill met the Taoiseach, Safe Ireland revealed 11,500 women and children received support from d(...)

‘Tech is an evangelical sport, and therefore technology can solve every problem it encounters. Why don’t you just freeze your eggs? Why don’t you just completely redesign corporate culture so it’s not unfairly patriarchal? Oh.’ Photograph: Getty Images

‘We should always be suspicious of employers wanting to involve themselves in our lives, because a company’s job is to create prof(...)

‘There was a collective slumping back into the couch wherever such would-be house buyers happen to live now’. Photograph: Getty Images

Opinion: Would-be first-time buyers will have to remain in the rental market for a longer period, pushing up rent prices

Maria Somerville: ‘The only gigs I ever get offered are ones that I want to do’ Photograph: Ruth Medjber /

Galway native Maria Somerville might be shy in person, but her music carries a deliberate intent

‘One of the most fresh aspects of the programmes is that it is female-led and a-stereotypical.’ The Connected cast (from left): Alanna Diggin, Nicole McQuillan, Elayne Harrington, Venetia Quick, Anna Ryan and Kate McGrew.

Opinion: ‘Human behaviour explored on television doesn’t need to be sensational or controversial’

‘Within a week, 150,000 refugees from Syria streamed into Turkey, adding to the million-plus refugees Turkey has accommodated in the three-and-a-half years since the devastating conflict in Syria began.’ Above, Syrian refugees cross the Syrian-Turkish border near Sanliurfa, Turkey, on September 26th. Photograph: EPA/Sedat Suna

Opinion: In 2014, the number of people seeking asylum will hit a 20-year high, according to the UNHCR

“A lot of a city’s contemporary culture stemmed from exciting club nights, of which there are hardly any now.”

The only Edge we have is quarter of a corporate band spamming iTunes libraries

Like the best comedians, Ó Briain isn’t just about the gags. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

The comedian has reached an enviable point in his career where he is happy to continue doing what he’s been doing. But he’s no les(...)

Hozier: no theatrics, no posturing

On the cusp of super-stardom, Hozier reveals all to Una Mullally

Review: Sick

A difficult subject gets a thorough examination in this meditation on illness

‘It must be an incredible feeling for the young billionaires who head up Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and YouTube to see their platforms being used by famous actors and singers and politicians and authors.’ Photograph: Getty

Opinion: I can’t imagine that in the ‘Rewind’ for 2014, YouTube will feature in its compilation a caption that reads: ‘and look wh(...)

A personal look at the battle between NYC Catholic conservatism and a free-for-all Queens approach

“When we examine the biggest stations in the land nationally, there are no female equivalents to George Hook (above), Ray D’Arcy, Ryan Tubridy and Sean Moncrieff.”

Opinion: Awards show up gender imbalance

From left, Conor McManus in Monaghan’s modern collars; Michael Jones in a 1993 All Blacks shirt; Conor Counihan in Cork’s 1990 jersey

Designing shirts involves giving players a technical edge while keeping traditionalists happy

‘People aren’t so much touched by emigration as manhandled by it.’ Above, Irish emigrants leaving for Liverpool during the Famine, in 1851. Original publication: Illustrated London News (Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Opinion: Underemployed but overworked has become default setting

Oisín McKenna: looking for directions to the rave in the woods

The spoken words artist shares some festival pointers and his party wishlist

 Author John Banville with Miriam O’Callaghan   at Mindfields during Electric Picnic 2011. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / THE IRISH TIMES

What’s the broadcaster’s take on what’s happening this weekend?

“Loom bands do not demolish buildings, evoke prostitution, or invade sovereign states. This is a good thing.” Photograph: Tobias Hase/EPA

Opinion: The real ‘smart’ action is the art of making something

March for Marriage, organised by LGBT NOISE took place in Dublin today, beginning at City Hall and finishing at the Dept. of Justice, St. Stephen’s Green. Pictured are sisters Fabiana and Giustina Mizzoni, from Stillorgan and Donnybrook respectively. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

Participants call for extension of marriage rights to gay and lesbian people in Ireland

‘On Derek Mooney’s radio programme on RTÉ Radio 1 in January, a chat took place between Mooney, who happens to be gay, Tiernan Brady of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, and RTÉ broadcaster Michael Murphy.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Opinion: After the Angelus is broadcast on RTÉ, should we now have an Atheist Minute?

The Willis Clan from Nashville, Tennessee, performing in a previous year’s Fleadh Cheoil in Cavan. Photograph: Alan Betson

The fuss over Fleadh Cheoil’s clumsy association with Shell highlights how tricky it can be to find ‘a good fit’ in difficult time(...)

Una McKevitt: talking about her play Singlehood led to a discussion of online dating. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

On RTÉ, Keelin Shanley and Kathryn Thomas emerge in one piece from tricky terrain

‘Born in New Zealand, Tania Rosser is a ferociously skilled player.’ Photograph: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Irish sportswomen need more determination and belief than their male counterparts

Best-dressed at the RDS: Carol Kennelly. Photograph: Paul Sherwood

The social pages are filled with glamorous ladies at the races and horse shows, but behind the fake smiles is a bigger lie

Keelin Shanley: holding the fort on ‘Today with Sean O’Rourke’

The deputies man the mikes in RTÉ, but there’s no such monkey business on Newstalk

22/07/2014 PROPERTY  THOMAS Street61 and 62 Thomas Street 9this includes 61 a .Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

Opinion: The Dublin street is downtrodden and a bit rough but beautiful in its own way

The boss: Sinéad O’Connor. Photograph: Donal Moloney

Sinéad O’Connor – still a teenage punk at heart – has embraced songwriting in an excellent, emotionally honest new album

Little Green Cars: Stevie Appleby, Adam O’Regan, Faye O’Rourke, Dylan Lynch and Donagh Seaver O’Leary. Photograph: Steven Dewall/Redferns via Getty

Having toured their debut album far and wide, the Dublin band are back writing. Is it strange faring better abroad than at home? (...)

Young people aren’t apathetic , “they’re dismissive of the recycled establishment bull, just as much as all ages are” – 2010 protest by  Dublin Focus on Youth, a coalition of youth projects/services   to warn the Government against making any further cut to youth services. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

Any young person worth their salt should seek to change the system

 Martina Topley-Bird performs with Massive Attacks. Photograph:  EPA/Jean-Christophe Bott

James Vincent McMorrow makes a welcome return home, but no one is overshadowing Massive Attack

Seagulls above the boardwalk on Dublin’s quays. It could be argued that the city’s seagulls are more highly evolved than those in other parts of the country. Photograph: The Irish Times

The Seanad begs to be taken seriously yet comes up with headline-grabbing silliness

Fans enjoy another hot day at Longitude festival at Marlay Park in Dublin at the weekend. Photograph: Allen Kiely

Marlay Park festival succeeds with electic mix of genres

Haim perform on the Main Stage at Longitude Fesitval at Marley Park. Photograph: Allen Kiely.

Haim electrify Marlay main stage and Disclosure easily live up to headline billing

Morgan Cooke and Ionia Ní Chróinín

How do you bring a novel on a famine ship to the stage? With delicate balance and theatrical invention

Matt Berninger of The National in London recently. Photograph: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

Irish audiences lay themselves bare for visiting rock bands . . . and then there's The National.

A Le Cool cover featuring the Pigeon House by Brendan McCarey

Dublin-centric prints and textiles have moved beyond tack to beautiful design

Google’s experimental “happy” newsroom processes were made public after the Brazil vs Germany World Cup semi-final – there was a distinction between negative terminology topping searches, yet more upbeat content being shared on social media. Photograph: Rowan Staszkiewicz/PA Wire.

Social-media companies trick people into thinking they are in control

Angel Haze performing at Glastonbury recently: ‘Being honest in my music was being honest with myself.’ Photograph: Ian Gavan/Getty Images

The rapper, just 22, is unusually honest, from her lyrics about a rape when she was a child to social-media posts about her relati(...)

Caitlin Moran: A modern, pop culture hero. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Caitlin Moran’s live show is an empowering experience – and she’s only getting started

“I arrived back in Ireland after five days and nights at Glastonbury, a unique and colossal festival where nearly 200,000 people on site generally get along and are polite, friendly, and manage to have a great time without falling into the dopey traps so common at Irish outdoor shows.” Above, festivalgoers leaving the Glastonbury festival in Somerset. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

Opinion: Residents around Croke Park who expect the worst might be right

A masked Kanye West performs during his Yeezus tour. Photograph: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Glitches masquerade as spontaneity in a show where West’s genius rarely pokes through

“There are 176,999 dependent drinkers in Ireland. There are 1.34 million harmful drinkers in Ireland. One in eight men and one in 10 women drank their recommended weekly guidelines in one sitting. That’s what you call a session.” Photograph: Getty Images

Opinion: Politicians need to lead by example when it comes to alcohol

“The sole purpose of having a barbecue is to make your neighbours jealous and to pretend to your peers that you ‘entertain’ all the time.”  Photograph: Getty Images

‘One whack of sun and all of a sudden you’ve been in a beer garden for two weeks’

It’s not up to Government to play rounders with children in Ireland, it’s up to parents. Photograph: Getty Images.

Tackling obesity is not about regulation, it’s about educating parents and children

Ana Liffey Drug Project highlights dangers of a pill being passed off as ecstasy

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