Ciara and Arthur (left), and  Aisling and Aoibheann. Photograph: Eoghan Garvey

Participation in a mother and baby group led to a wonderful support network for five women in the hectic first year of motherhoo(...)

Strange journey: Linda Ervine at her office. Photograph: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker

Linda Ervine, a sister-in-law of the late unionist politician David Ervine, is introducing the Irish language to loyalist parts of(...)

Meik Wiking, director of Denmark’s institute for happiness research: ‘I never worked so hard, earned so little or had so much fun.’ Photograph: Carlos Manuel Sánchez

Since the 1970s Denmark has come top of the Eurobarometer survey on happiness. Here’s why

Postman Noel Adamson in Clontarf. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Noel Adamson and Damien Tuohy are close observers of their communities in Clontarf in Dublin and Gort in Galway. They both love th(...)

Lennart Lajboschitz: ‘If you try 10 things and eight don’t succeed, most people aren’t happy. But I’m happy if two things out of 10 succeed, and the rest is experience’

From their Danish base, Lennart Lajboschitz and his wife, Suz, have sold their vision of design-led, low-cost retail all over the (...)

Sal Khan, who set up the Khan Academy’s first non-digital school 10 months ago and believes pupils should not be segregated on the basis of age

Interview: Sal Khan went from tutoring his cousin to setting up Khan Academy, a not-for-profit online school. He talks about his o(...)

Amanda McCarthy, a carer employed by an agency in Booterstown, Co Dublin. ‘If I wanted to, I could work Monday to Sunday, 24 hours a day. That’s the demand there is for this type of care.’ Photograph: Eric Luke

Amanda McCarthy is a carer employed by a private agency. She looks after older people in their own homes

Knight is against middle-aged women getting on top during sex. ‘Put a mirror on the floor and straddle it. Now look down. Yep. That’s the view.’ Photograph: Graham Jepson/Writer Pictures

The Sunday Times columnist doesn’t hold back in her book about middle age and the menopause. Nuggets include the best person to go(...)

Sheila O’Flaherty, a senior psychiatric social worker, in Swords, Co Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Sheila O’Flaherty is a senior psychiatric social worker with the child and adolescent mental health services for north Co Dublin (...)

Andrew Trimble: The Ulster and Ireland winger received a ligament injury to his big toe during Ulster’s Pro12 game against Glasgow on October 11th. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Ulster and Ireland rugby winger is watching a lot of television following a ligament injury to his big toe. So how did it feel(...)

Photograph:  Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

He was the boy from Macroom who became a teacher, historian, politician and thorn in the side of ‘republicans’. Now 87, the profes(...)

The Pip: small and fob-like, it fits between finger and thumb and measures stress

A Dublin firm has come up with the Pip – it measures stress and plays scenarios that may calm you down

Declan Bowens, who runs the Back into Daylight sanctuary in Co Meath, and Louis the goat. Photograph: Alan Betson

At the age of nine Declan Bowens became vegetarian, and later vegan. ‘Just because we can do it, doesn’t mean we should,’ he says (...)

Ann Marie Hourihane in Cinnamon cafe, Ranelagh in Dublin: ‘Perhaps the problem about continuing to live without alcohol was that I just wasn’t terrorised enough; my relationship with alcohol wasn’t that fraught.’ Photograph: Alan Betson

When you give up drinking, you miss drinking: and when you go back to drinking, you miss giving up

Jonathan Wilson, Aaron Carey and Dane Carr, three of the successful Learning for Life scheme candidates, at the Guinness Storehouse. Photograph: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

A Diageo scheme takes 15 young, long-term unemployed people from working-class areas of Dublin and trains them for the hospitality(...)

  Anne Ferris photographed on the beach at Bray, Co Wicklow,  Photograph: Eric Luke

She was adopted and then at 16 gave up a child for adoption – little wonder Labour TD Anne Ferris is determined to change our arch(...)

Monika Gaciarz at TV3 auditions in Limerick for their new soap Red Rock. “It was very easy, very quick. The girl said if I forgot some of it to just make it up.”

‘To be honest, I just went on Google and typed in monologues for women and girls’

Matt Lapinskas, Lloyd Daniels and Danielle Hope in ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’

The new cast of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat are preparing to close their eyes, draw back the curtain, to see for (...)

Nick Miller painting Ann Marie Hourihane at Laois Arthouse in Stradbally. Photograph: Dylan Vaughan

For Sitting, his latest exhibition, Nick Miller has undertaken a marathon as he paints five portraits per day, with just one hour (...)

Reeling in the years: the many faces of Uncle Gaybo, including, top left, with his portrait in the National Gallery of Ireland in 2000; bottom left, the motorcycling enthusiast; inset left, on The Late Late Show in 1966; centre, presenting his Lyric FM radio show last year; middle right, shaking hands with Charles Haughey at a surprise party at RTÉ in 1998; and bottom right, as chairman of the Road Safety Authority in 2007

Gay Byrne turns 80 on Tuesday. This small, reserved man revolutionised Irish broadcasting, busted taboos and helped to drag Irelan(...)

Mary Curtis: ‘A lot of people record their programmes now. The challenge is to monetise that. It’s difficult, because people zip through the ads.’ Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

‘Maybe it was my mid-life crisis,’ says UTV Ireland’s head of channel about her move from RTÉ. She talks changing audiences, offic(...)

Liam Brady: ‘Exhausted? No, no. Watching football sitting in a chair is not a chore. It’s not work’

Liam Brady is candid about the lack of sentimentality in coaching and decoding accents for Bill O’Herlihy but, even after 18 year(...)

Sean Coughlan: ‘There are conversations happening on boards.ie which are very relevant to what’s going on in Ireland’. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Sean Coughlan’s socially-focused career continues with a move to the helm of boards.ie

Ann Marie Hourihane keeps an eye on the bees during a Louth Beekeepers Association demonstration in Castleknock; Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The Trip: In the first of a series about summer sojourns, a day spent with Louth Beekeepers Association highlights what a tough bu(...)

Many hands shaken as royals work the crowd in town hall

Mattress Mick with two of the cutouts that dot his northside premises. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Mick, part of the furniture of Dublin retail, talks about his family (Margaret, Michelle and Marina), his local celebrity, his ‘ra(...)

Feeling good: Anne Marie Hourihane has discovered  that, despite evidence to the contrary, drinking alcohol isn’t compulsory. Photograph: Alan Betson

In early May, a ‘normal Irish drinker’ undertook a minor social experiment: to give up drink for a month and write about it. Now i(...)

Tea total: Ann Marie Hourihane in Cinnamon Cafe in Ranelagh, Dublin 6. Photograph: Alan Betson Tea total: Ann Marie Hourihane in Cinnamon Cafe in Ranelagh, Dublin 6. Photograph: Alan Betson

Three weeks without drink, one more to go. But it’s not like leaving society – I’m going out more than ever, and readers are chatt(...)

 Sparkling again: Anne-Marie Hourihane. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

A ‘normal Irish drinker’ has quit alcohol for four weeks, to experience life without booze. She’s halfway there

My social experiment has provoked some strong reactions, and no shortage of recommended reading

Ann Marie Hourihane. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

She’s a believer in alcohol, a fan of pubs, a ‘normal Irish person’. Today, Ann Marie Hourihane begins a social experiment: quit(...)

Sean Moncrieff on TV3 game show Crossfire. Photograph: Brian McEvoy/TV3

Moncrieff, a unique radio host, is back on TV – a medium that never quite got him – with a quiz show. He talks work, children, fem(...)

Students from Dublin City Quay primary school take part in a commemoration for the 40 children killed in the 1916 rising. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Dublin church commemoration for 40 child victims of Easter Rising

‘I couldn’t imagine anything more exciting than politics.’ Betty Purcell at her home in Ranelagh, Dublin. Photograph: David Sleator

The ground-breaking producer reflects on the bitter battles of her 33-year career, close encounters with Haughey and her fight aga(...)

‘Last year, when Amy Huberman was pregnant on the red carpet, we ran four pages on that story,’ says the editor of VIP magazine

Industry frustration with the Irish Film and Television Awards is growing. Complaints include the high cost of attending, the chao(...)

Easter 1916: children search for firewood among ruined Dublin buildings. Photograph: Central Press/Getty

Forty babies, toddlers and other children were killed in the Easter Rising and its aftermath. Joe Duffy has been finding out who t(...)

Thousands of people were in Belfast on Sunday for the city’s St Patrick’s Day parade and concert. The theme of the parade was St Patrick - to the future, with the saint depicted as a time-travelling adventurer. The parade included floats, performers and music. Photograph: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

Forget New York, it’s in the local parades you see the real Irishness

Kian Egan on  The Voice

Kian Egan, The Voice judge and I’m A Celebrity winner talks songs, success and the loss of his father

Stacey McNulty before her treatment.

New plans are in place to target the long waiting lists for orthodontic treatment

Women light candles while they take part in a rally to commemorate International Women’s Day yesterday  in Karachi, Pakistan.  Photograph: Athar Hussain/Reuters

There has always been something self-conscious and forced about event

Democracy television: Vincent Browne. Photograph: TV3

Vincent Browne, the ‘Irish Times’ columnist, TV presenter and former newspaper and magazine editor, is 70 this year. He remains i(...)

For me and the boy who’s bringing me joy: lighting a candle at the shrine of St Valentine in Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. Photograph: John Cogill/Bloomberg via Getty

At the Dublin church where relics of St Valentine are kept, people write messages to the saint about situations you won’t find on (...)

Red corner, blue corner: Pat Kenny of Newstalk, and Seán O’Rourke of RTÉ

Ahead of the publication tomorrow of the first clear listenership figures since Newstalk’s ‘declaration of war’ on RTÉ, the two pr(...)

Homemade kale crisps

Kale is flavour of the month in the diet and fitness world – but why?

A swan applies his make-up. Photograph: Peter Neill

People used to walk out of ‘Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake’ when they saw male-on-male dancing, and the eroticism is undeniable. Backs(...)

Sugar is an emotional food – perhaps the most emotional food of all. It is routinely used as a comforter, a pacifier, a stimulant, a leisure accessory. Photograph: Getty Images

Fat has been given a reprieve as sugar gets the blame for everything from heart and liver disease to cancer

Charlie Scully (left) with his brother Tom, mother Imelda and father Jim. Picture: Patrick Browne

Three-year-old Charlie Scully is undergoing intensive treatment for leukaemia

11/12/2013 - NEWS - ‘Bridget’ (Not her real name) photographed for a Focus Ireland story by Ann Marie HourihanePhotograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times  Bridget: “This is the happiest Christmas.” Photograph: Alan Betson

Homeless for much of 2013, this family are overjoyed that they will be spending Christmas in a house of their own

“Everything is totally commercial now. The binmen have no leeway whatsoever. I would call this industry merciless.”

Tradition of giving gifts to those who provide us with services has been badly hit by recession

What fresh hell is this?: Twink at rehearsal with her dog, Teddy Bear. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Love it or loathe it, panto takes huge effort. For Twink, 38 shows in a fortnight mean there’s no time to lose in the rehearsal ro(...)

Nigella Lawson: she looked vulnerable, a beauty mired in scandal. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty

Forget fraud: Nigella Lawson and her ex are doing battle for custody of the public’s approval

Gay Byrne presenting his show on RTÉ Lyric FM. Photograph: Alan Betson

The Sunday show, a mixture of jazz and giving out, is becoming cult listening, mainly for the darkness of Byrne’s presentation. Hi(...)

One thing at a time:  Valerie Farragher at home in  Co Mayo. Photograph: Keith Heneghan/Phocus

Valerie Farragher’s alcoholism almost ruined the lives of her family. Now four years sober, she is trying to help other women avoi(...)

Boyzone today

Female desire has driven Boyzone across 20 years, 25 million records and six number ones. They talk about hating Ronan, feeling St(...)

June Shannon: ‘The biggest improvement on the buses is the real-time information at bus stops, which is pretty accurate.’ Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Do only losers take the bus, as Thatcher reputedly said? Loyal bus users June Shannon, Peter Murphy, David McWilliams and Bryan Do(...)

Stephanie Roche of Peamount United FC. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The Peamount United player’s turn and strike from 20 yards has had almost 1.8 million hits on YouTube. Matt Le Tissier called it t(...)

Prayers of the faithful: messages to St Jude at the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Photograph: Eric Luke

In Whitefriar Street church in Dublin, people write poignant messages about their health, their families and their finances to t(...)

Helen Fielding: many of the writer’s strengths are on display in the new Bridget Jones novel.  Photograph: Freud/PA

In the new book, our lovable heroine, now a rich widow with a toy boy, is stretched far too thin by author Helen Fielding

The Clare champion: ‘Hurling is very rewarding if you’re on form,’ says Shane O’Donnell. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Within 19 frenzied minutes, a 19-year-old Clare hurler’s life changed forever as sportsman became showbiz star

Helen McConnell and her son Thomas (3) at home at Knocklyon, Co Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke

A company is encouraging expectant mothers to freeze their babies’ umbilical cords, which are rich in stem cells

Michael Darragh Macauley. “I’m intense on the field and very relaxed off it.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Michael Darragh Macauley, hero of Dublin’s All-Ireland victory, credits the influence of his father and teachers – and his obses(...)

Wilson Saraj: “I never thought that they would attack in Peshawar.”

London-based aid worker Wilson Saraj says he has family and friends among the dead following the suicide attack on a church

Phoebe McCallan (left), overall winner, and Bryony Way (8) with their mothers Hayley Way and Michelle Watts, all from Portsmouth, England, at the Universal Royalty pageant, which was held at Corrigan’s pub in Castleblayney. Photograph: Eric Luke

The hot breath of Texas can be felt everywhere in the child beauty event

Learning the drill: Paul Riddell and Katie O’Connor with some of the participants in the Junction project at their organic vegetable plot. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Ballinasloe youth workers guide young people with the lightest of touches

Learning the drill: Paul Riddell and Katie O’Connor with some of the participants in the Junction project at their organic vegetable plot. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

The Garda’s youth diversion projects work quietly with children on the cusp of offending, helping them to stay at school and out o(...)

Learning the drill: Paul Riddell and Katie O’Connor with some of the participants in the Junction project at their organic vegetable plot. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

What do participants say about the project?

William Martin Murphy: didn’t play golf

Murphy – often cast as the villain of the 1913 Lockout – is remembered more fondly in a Dublin golf club and his native west Cork (...)

“Feargal Quinn was the housewives’ choice. Every Valentine’s Day he stood at the checkout with a red rose and a kiss for each female customer.” Photograph: Alan Betson

As Superquinn moved closer to vanishing from the map last week, the supermarket wars moved up a notch

“Pat Kenny has made it clear that he has felt insulted, patronised and abandoned by RTÉ management. The only surprise is that he still has the energy to do something about it.” Photograph: RTÉ

Hiring a star presenter is the quick fix in broadcasting, and we need a lot of quick fixes

White Mischief: Juanita Carberry in 1987. Photograph: Rex Features

The unconventional writer and sailor, who died last weekend, was the teenage witness in the White Mischief murder case

Young entrepreneurs: “Each business had to pay €8 for a slot on the flyer, so they did. And we got 80 businesses taking part.” Twins Michael and Oisín (13) McGloin from Bundoran, Co Donegal

Seasonal work gives teens a taste of the adult world and the independence, responsibility and rejection that comes with it – not t(...)

“Lidl has brought the show-and-tell phenomenon to our shopping, and made cheapness a virtue as well as a necessity.” Photograph: Aidan Crawley

The budget retailer has made basic shopping fashionable and modern

Visitors to Niagara Falls receive notice of the sex of the royal baby last night indicated by the blue light illuminating the water at Niagara Falls, New York. Photograph: Getty

Joy at royal birth makes you question if we are that different from ancestors who worshiped kings

“Inside your modern bank nowadays is a cavernous space with nothing in it but a couple of machines, perhaps a television and a person whose job it is to wrangle the customers into submission by asking you what you want to do. Then they tell you that you can do it online.” Photograph: Alan Betson

Banks want you at home doing all their work for them online

Massimo Dutti, Zara’s more conservative and pricier sister, has rented the old HMV building on Grafton Street, and it’s not just t(...)

A Femen activist is detained by a security man after staging a protest during a visit by Tunisian prime minister Ali Larayedh near the European Commission in Brussels last month. Photograph: Reuters/Laurent Dubrule

The most shocking act healthy young women can perpetrate is to take their clothes off in protest

“Bernie Nolan referred to herself as the ‘nutter of the family’ . . . She was the first of the Nolans to begin a television acting career. She was willing to attempt being an opera singer for a television programme. There was a bit of panto. She was game.” Photograph: Camera Press/Nicky Johnston

The late Bernie Nolan was representative of the Irish women of her generation who made their homes in England

Outgoing Australian prime minister Julia Gillard speaks to journalists following her defeat in the Labor Party leadership ballot in Canberra last Wednesday. Photograph: Mark Graham/Bloomberg

Australia’s political landscape is bereft not only of ideology but also of ideas

Nigella Lawson – “It is hard to imagine such a confident and commanding woman as the victim of abuse of any kind.” Photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Nigella Lawson and Isabella Beeton had more in common than popular recipes

"The annual sitting of the Leaving Cert is a spectator sport for the rest of the country. It is an outlet for mainly adult hysteri(...)

A section of the large crowd attending the anti-abortion Vigil for Life at Merrion Square, Dublin, on Saturday. Photograph: Eric Luke

Saturday’s Vigil for Life rally in Dublin shows just how much campaigners have learned

“The Nissan Micra, and its drivers, are a little despised in the macho Irish traffic system. If you are driving a Micra it is not unusual to be bullied on the road, even by women bus-drivers.”

Dublin Women’s Mini Marathon could have no finer mascot than the small Nissan

“In The Fall our fabulous female detective (Gillian Anderson) explains that the killer has washed the body of the dead woman, and even washed and dried her bed linen, before arranging her in a photogenic pose on her own bed.” Photograph: Steffan Hill

Column: In television drama, if you are a single female living alone your future is going one of two ways

One of the pavilions at the Chelsea Flower Show  in London. Photograph: Tim P Whitby/Getty

Gardeners are only emerging from hibernation as the flower shows begin

“Ariel Castro was living as the most anonymous, regular kind of guy . . . he had constructed a cunning disguise which no person or institution could have hoped to penetrate.” Photograph: Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s office via Getty Images

Column: Domestic violence exists below the radar and causes no outcry

“Why is it in poor taste – as implied by several correspondents to this newspaper – to associate Praveen Halappanavar’s suffering with that of the relatives of other patients in the same hospital system? It is only logical to do so.” Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Most of the solutions to relatives’ problems are heartbreakingly simple

Caring hands: Kara Madden looks after  her son, who has schizophrenia. Photograph:  Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

The Irish health system is maddening not only for patients but for their relatives, who must withstand poor communication, bafflin(...)

Praveen Halappanavar outside Galway County Hall after the jury in his wife Savita’s inquest returned a unanimous verdict of death by medical misadventure. “If I had known I would have followed them up myself,” he said of his wife’s blood results. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

The people not surprised by Praveen Halappanavar’s suffering are the relatives of hospital patients all over the country

Margaret Thatcher’s funeral is already controversial in Britain, and it’s not due to take place until Wednesday. Photograph: PA Wire

Former British prime minister changed Republic more than contemporary taoisigh did

'A dislike of reality also certainly helps with maintaining our alcohol consumption, thank goodness'

Any city dies a little on a bank holiday weekend . . . Life is taken, by car, to suburban shopping centres. Photograph Brenda Fitzsimons

Surely bank holidays were invented so that all workers could take time off at the same time?

In the view of the city-dweller, making the humble toilet the unit on which the property is calculated – as it were – makes more sense than going on property websites whose valuations can vary.

Our national psyche was on parade on St Patrick’s Day

Domestic labour has become so unfashionable that when it makes a rare appearance in public discussion, as it did in the Vatican la(...)

And the little girls are ready to move on

Last Thursday, the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize was awarded at a reception at the Department of Foreign Affairs in …

I realise that we all have our individual news agendas

It was the ambition of Henri IV (1553-1610) that during his reign every peasant in France would be able to afford to have a chicken every Sunday.

Maybe it’s time to start considering, for about the 200th time, becoming a vegetarian

How quiet can a country get? Here we are, the great communicators of Europe, the legendary talkers of national stereotype

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