Mary Berry in Dublin recently. “I know the subject of baking and I’ve just got to be fair, encourage them [the Bake Off contestants] and try to say something nice even when it’s pretty awful”. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Mary Berry tells of her journey from teaching people how to use their ovens to fronting one of the most popular programmes on Bri(...)

Dividing people into winners and losers might seem like weirdly reductive behaviour, but Alastair Campbell was once the British Labour Party’s director of communication and strategy, where he thrived on reduction. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Why should we win? The political strategist admits that’s one question he never asks

From PJ and and Duncan to the dual-headed light-entertainment hydra Ant-and-Dec, they have complete control of your television sch(...)

A screengrab from Irish director Ruari Robinson's proof-of-concept trailer for The Leviathan

Irish film-maker Ruairí Robinson’s latest project 'The Leviathan' has been picked up by X-Men writer and producer Simon Kinberg an(...)

The Mr Darcification of period drama notwithstanding, ‘Poldark’ is more enjoyable than ‘Banished’, which is no fun at all

Before reading this, please note that there will be spoilers and you need to picture me turning to the camera: I’ve binged on all (...)

“And with a swing of her hips...” Chris de Burgh serenades Tubridy and the nation on The Late Late Show. Screengrab: RTE

Last week, someone left both Chris de Burgh and a guitar on the couch... then came God and the Devil on a haunted train

Home place:  Patrick Freyne with his sister Maria at their home in Douglas, Cork, in 1979. Photograph: family collection

We left the real capital when I was six, so for years I used to be from Cork. Then I discovered that I’m always from the city

And the nominees for weirdest category are (clockwise from top left): Benedict Cumberbatch, Steve Carell, Meryl Streep and Optimus Prime

Cup of hotdog water? Check. Cruel jibes to aim at actors who are wearing their clothes all wrong? Check. Existential angst for the(...)

Whoever came up with this programme is basically an evil genius, writes Patrick Freyne

Taking New York, from left: Gagan, Sophie, James, Sumner, Danny and Georgina

In the hope of finding sweet telly glory, watching hunks frolic is the price we must be willing to pay

Blogger Pippa O’Connor at the Irish premier of Fifty Shades of Grey. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

‘It’s soft porn. There was chick-lit and Mills and Boon but ladies maybe require a bit more now’

Sr Mai Pender: God is the “most beautiful, lovely, kind man”. Photograph: Alan Betson

For Stephen Fry, God is ‘monstrous’ and ‘a maniac’. But what do people in Ireland think? We asked some of them

Josie Long: ‘Stand-up does feel a lot more pluralistic and interesting now’. Photograph: Giles Smith

She is known for political comedy, but in her new show she opens up about family and her broken heart

The meaning of life according to some celebrity is etched on Gay Byrne’s Big Face

At home by the Lee: John Spillane. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

‘The city always seemed magical, mythical and fantastic to me’

Scorpion is inspired by a true story about eccentric genius Walter O'Brien (Elyes Gabel)and his team. Pictured left to right: Jadyn Wong as Happy Quinn, Ari Stidham as Sylvester Dodd, Elyes Gabel as Walter O'Brien, Katharine McPhee as Paige Dineen and Eddie Kaye Thomas as Toby Curtis. Photograph: Getty Images

RTE's new drama ‘Scorpion’, based on a 'real-life' Irish computer whiz Walter O’Brien, is not actualy about a magic crime-fighting(...)

David Chase: “The analogy I’ve always said is that ‘The Sopranos’ was like the Mir space station. It was only meant to stay up there for a year but wound up staying up there five years”

David Chase revolutionised TV with ‘The Sopranos’ but at heart, he’s always wanted to be a filmmaker, he tells Patrick Freyne

Kate and Steven from the RTÉ documentary ‘Clubland’: “She is literally like a sister to me,” Steven says

The Wright Venue – ‘a nightclub that sprang into existence when an enchanted copy of the Sindo’s Life Magazine was hit by lightnin(...)

Finbar Furey: ‘I knew I’d never be able to play the pipes as well again,’ he says of an injury to his shoulder. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Furey is back on the road after a period of grieving for his brother, and an injury that could have put him out of business as a p(...)

Experiences: when you’re biking “you’re really focusing, and that is hugely satisfying”, says James Wallman. Photograph: Daniel Milchev/Stone/Getty

The futurist James Wallman, author of ‘Stuffocation’, says that, having accumulated too many possessions in the 20th century, peop(...)

The judges of The Voice all those years ago

Kian Egan is one of five Lego-men transformed into a boyband by an evil wizard – and he resents Bressie

So great was Dogtanian and the ThreeMuskehounds that it was recently remade by the BBC, but instead of casting cartoon dogs they employed the leather- and-suede-clad human members of a 1980s hair-metal band

The story of a bunch of counter-revolutionary monarchists who strive to keep a Tony Blair lookalike in power as king of France.

Aidan Gillen as Charlie Haughey in RTÉ’s three-part drama series Charlie: “I was trying to find a middle ground where his look and sound could meet what I was capable of without being ridiculous or distracting.”

While being true to much of the Haughey story, there were some things RTÉ couldn’t stretch to

Darkly kitsch, troubling: Daniel Clowe

Fancy getting a new habit for the new year? Check out these comic book heroes of a different stripe

Guardians of the Galaxy made me laugh, starring, as it did, a wise-cracking racoon.

Detail from the front page of The Irish Times on Christmas Day, 1886.

In those days the news never stopped - and neither did the adverts, apparently

Dr Muiris Houston, co-founder Dotmed Creative Medical Conference.

Dotmed offers up the changing face of medicine at its annual ‘creative medical conference’ in Smock Alley

Domhnall, Brian and Brendan Gleeson and Leona Allen, who will star in The Walworth Farce in the new year. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Brendan Gleeson and sons Domhnall and Brian have established a recent acting dynasty. So what will happen when they finally share (...)

The People’s Conversation: a new vision for active citizenship. Illustration: Dearbhla Kelly

The man behind the ‘people’s conversation’ initiative believes that some national soul-searching can help us create a better count(...)

Direct action: anti-water charge protestors occupy O’Connell Bridge, Dublin.Photograph: Dave  Meehan

10 terms every modern social reformer should know

I have to say, I could listen to Joey Essex guessing what a ‘glacier’ is all day

Last week the long-awaited trailer for Star Wars Episode VII was released. True fans, however, know that it’s really Star Wars Epi(...)

Host Ryan Tubridyis seen during the opening performance of the RTÉ  Late Late Toy Show  with a medley of songs from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Picture Andres Poveda

Toy Show show begins with a dementedly frenetic, child-infested dance-number

Welcome, once again, to the jungle, where Ant & Dec steal the sanity of celebrities

Protesters: a demonstrator argues with a Garda outside Mansion House in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Who are the people fighting the water charges, running the protests and taking to the streets to object to the installation of met(...)

A still from Sainsbury’s Christmas ad

The Sainsbury’s ad strives to make us associate the tragedy of a generation with self-service checkouts and shopping trollies and (...)

The rich are the ideal subjects for fly-on-the-wall, scripted-reality television series. They’ve been ignoring the help for millen(...)

Alan Cumming: ‘I’m not one of those people who lets life go.’ Photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

When the actor was told by his cruel, ailing father that he was not his son, the revelation inspired a memoir that puts a positive(...)

Graham Norton: “The only thing you can learn from celebrities is how best to deal with being a celebrity.” Photograph: Fergal Phillips

The TV chat show host shares his witty take on, among other subjects, why people get the dogs they deserve

Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as Nidge, a character mainly concerned with the  ‘Hate’ side of the equation. Photograph: RTÉ

Review: The drama’s body count became its biggest appeal – and its biggest drawback

Founding father: Paddy Cosgrave on stage at the RDS. Photograph: Ray McManus/Sportsfile/Web Summit

People say ‘disruption’ and ‘ecosystem’ a lot and talk about selling their companies the way Buddhists talk about nirvana. They al(...)

Naomi Klein: “In some ways we displace our own cares onto our kids. We’re afraid for ourselves. But it’s more acceptable to say you care about it for your kids.”  Photograph: Ed Kashi.

When it comes to climate change, capitalism is the problem, says Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein

Justice League International: snarky, self-aware, mind-blowing

In celebration of a misspent youth, Patrick Freyne runs through his favourite superhero comics

Now you see me: Grant Gustin as The Flash

Get your cape, Patrick Freyne is forming a new Justice League

An exhibition in Russia has likened the ‘glorious achievements’ of Vladimir Putin to the labours of Hercules. We tried to do the s(...)

  Stephen Hawking giving a talk at this year’s Starmus Festival in Tenerife

At Starmus Festival in Tenerife, the superstars of science and megastars of music bring cosmology to earth

Patrick Freyne is tutored by baritone Rory Musgrave. Photograph: Patrick Browne

I know nothing about opera, but I’ve been sent to practise with professionals for the part of Papageno in The Magic Flute, which i(...)

This week, we learned that, ike wildebeest, business folk are easily spooked - at one point, a swagger of apprentices ran aimlessl(...)

Bernard Sumner of New Order.  Photograph:  Yui Mok/PA

He took a bath on ‘Blue Monday’, lost a pile in the Hacienda and was part of a scene that has become music myth. Bernard Sumner of(...)

Under the tree: Leo Crawford, chairman of Spar International. Photograph: Chris Bellew/Fennell
Spar wars

The owner of the Spar group has announced 50 new shops, adding to its 400-plus across the Republic. Does the spread of the conveni(...)

Game of Arms: “To be the best, it’s not about having the strongest arm, it’s all about the mind”

Reality TV doesn’t get much musclier (or funnier) than ‘Game of Arms’


A powerful TV series draws us into the lives of others. But are we all just a little TOO connected?

Louis Walsh, Leni Riefenstahl and ‘Logan’s Run’ – what more could you want from Saturday-night television?

Patrick Freyne anticipates the new series of Downton Abbey which starts on Sunday

Paul Howard at home in Avoca, Co Wicklow, with his basset hound Humphrey. Photograph: Eric Luke

Journalist, author and Ross O’Carroll Kelly creator Paul Howard talks about his new book, his columns and his sense of humour

Paul Howard in 2012, preparing for the opening of Anglo the Musical. Photograph: Frank Miller

Ahead of the launch of his new Ross O’Carroll-Kelly book, Keeping up with the Kalashnikovs, Paul Howard tells Patrick Freyne about(...)

Aerial picture of the Electric Picnic taken by drone on Saturday. Photograph: Sky Tec Ireland

Fancy dress is mainstream, toddlers are a must-have accessory. It’s Electric Picnic 2014

Introducing Steve, the Irish Times flying robot camera

Electric Picnic: tailored entertainment. Reuters/Cathal McNaughton

Enlightening encounters in Stradbally

 A different kind of blue: Festival-goers getting into the swing of things during day one of the Electirc Picnic Festival in Stradbally Co.Laoise. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / THE IRISH TIMES

Patrick Freyne on a festival filled with mud, music, madness ... and a bleeping Deprogramming Machine

235: Wahey! Shaun, an Englishman who’s in Temple Bar to celebrate his 40th birthday, with 10 of his friends. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

It’s different things to different people: party zone, bohemian quarter, workplace and home to 2000 people. We spend a day and (...)

Projected images of people in a replica first-class cabin in the Titanic Experience. Photograph: David Moir/Reuters

The Titanic Experience in Belfast is one of the most visited tourist sites on the island, and surely one of the loudest

Philadelphia Maria Walsh: the winning Rose at the 2014 Rose of Tralee International Festival. Photograph:Domnick Walsh

Fellow culchies know this festival is all about renewing the land for another year

Bonnie Tyler singing for the UK at last year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden. Photograph: Ragnar Singsaas/Getty Images

Tyler was a country-rock chanteuse before an operation to her larynx transformed her into the husky queen of the power ballad. She(...)

The tour (including Patrick Freyne, far right) gathers around guide Philip McComb at Cushendun, Co Antrim. Photograph: Mark Marlow/Pacemaker

The Trip: We visit the place where Melisandre gave birth to a shadow assassin, drive slowly past the site of Castle Black, and see(...)

Catholic formula: Mrs Brown’s Boys

What’s the difference between ‘Fawlty Towers’, ‘The Office’, ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ and ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’? From the way they’re m(...)

‘Reign’: they should really call the show ‘Dawson’s Keep’

‘Reign’ oozes anachronisms; you’ll find a more authentic torture and dark intrigue on ‘Shakedown the Town’

Self-help: Roselyn Sánchez, Edy Ganem, Ana Ortiz, Dania Ramírez and Judy Reyes in Devious Maids (RTÉ Two, Tuesday)

There’s a Marxist message about class struggle deep in ‘Devious Maids’, but it’s been lost under the sex and silliness

Rathkeale prayer group members Claire Young and Mary Sheridan  in St Mary’s Church. Photograph: Liam Burke/Press 22

The settled people of Rathkeale often wish the town’s Travellers would disappear – and the feeling seems to be mutual

Screening process: the better Netflix can get to know you, the more likely you are to continue subscribing. Photograph: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Todd Yellin talks about how his company strives to individualise content in order to give us what we want

Trevor Smith, the lead singer of Friends in Low Places, a Garth Brooks tribute act, was looking forward to seeing his role model at  the Tuesday concert. Photograph: Garrett White

Some blame the licensing process but others blame the promoter

Colourful dichotomy: Niall Harbison. Behind him is artwork by Gearoid O’Dea. Photograph: Eric Luke

Lovin’ Dublin’s controversial owner and ex-contributor Niall Harbison talks about selling a business for millions, writing a boo(...)

Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

The State is official opiate supplier to 10,000 people. Methadone stabilises, and sometimes even saves, the lives of heroin users,(...)

‘The world doesn’t seem to understand that there really are people who are content to live alone.’ Ann Widdecombe in Belfast last week. Photograph: Mark Marlow/Pacemaker

The former Conservative minister left politics in 2010, but has not lost her merciless directness. She talks about being single, C(...)

Ikea was founded in 1943 by the famously frugal Ingvar Kamprad and Ikea stands for Ingvar, Kamprad, Elmtaryd, Agunnaryd (the latter names being Kamprad’s farm and hometown)

More than just a cut-price furniture store, the Swedish company likes to see itself at the forefront of an urban design revoluti(...)

Daniel Holtzschlag, from Germany, in St Stephen’s Green. Photograph: Dave Meehan

It was all smiles and free ice-cream on the lawns of Stephen’s Green

Gearóid Cheaist Ó Catháin, the last Blasket evacuee alive. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Gearóid Cheaist Ó Catháin has published a memoir that recalls life on the Great Blasket island, the evacuation of 1953-1954 follow(...)

Melodrama: Roy of the Rovers

World Cup? What’s that? ‘Roy of the Rovers’ was much more exciting than the real thing

Words: Patrick Freyne. Illustrations: Dearbhla Kelly

And the real health risks for men, as explained by Dr Ian Banks of the European Men’s Health Forum

Leadership candidate: Joan Burton. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

An Oxford professor says we overestimate the importance of those at the top of the political ladder

Hit and run: Flappy Bird was so successful that its overwhelmed creator, Dong Nguyen, withdrew the app from circulation last February

In days gone by, dissatisfied employees dreamed about writing a bestseller or putting a brilliant business idea into practice. Tod(...)

Manhunter and boy: Tony Parsons. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Tony Parsons was an angry young gunslinger at ‘NME’, then had huge success with his novel ‘Man and Boy’. Now he’s a crime writer –(...)

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, the outgoing Lord Mayor of Belfast, in Belfast City Hall.  Photograph: Aidan O’Reilly/Pacemaker

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, the funny, fast-talking Sinn Féin lord mayor of Belfast, does it his way: he is a prolific tweeter, he decide(...)

Labour’s Oisín Quinn at the RDS in Dublin. His elimination was one of the surprises of the weekend.  Photograph: Eric Luke

Losing candidates default to sad-eyed stoicism in contemplation of voters’ wisdom

Independent candidate Diarmaid O’Flynn canvasses for the European elections in Patrick Street, Cork. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

What canvassers lack in resources they make up for in passion and ideas

On the campaign trail: Cllr Sinéad Dooley (left) talks to  Shane Murray in Tullamore, Co Offaly. Photograph: Jeff Harvey/HR Photo

On May 23rd Ireland will elect 950 people to city and county councils. But what do these local representatives do once elected, an(...)

Julio Iglesias on stage in South Africa. Photograph: Michelly Rall/Wireimage

The Spanish crooner is about to play Ireland for the first time in 30 years. He didn’t sleep with 3,000 women but he swims naked ((...)

I went from putting up with, to loving and then losing a grumpy, fat, white cat

Damian Barr: has written a deeply sad book about a child abused for being different while living in a poverty-stricken, alcohol-damaged Scottish household. Photograph: Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty
Maggie and him

Damian Barr grew up poor but wanted more from life. So Margaret Thatcher made sense to him. He has changed – but the British PM (...)

Alan Kinsella at the exhibition What You Maybe Meant to Keep, at the National Print Museum, Beggars Bush, Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

‘Some of the stuff from the referendums is real social history. The scaremongering involved is unbelievable’

Patrick Freyne recounts how he lost his twenties to a band

Michael Fassbender at the Irish film premiere of Frank at Lighthouse in Smithfield, Dublin. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Film inspired by Jon Ronson memoir depicts both joyous creativity and mental collapse

Viking fans in full regalia engage in  mock hand-to-hand combat at one of several re-enactments of the Battle of Clontrarf at a festival in St Anne’s Park at the weekend. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

St Anne’s Park was invaded by Viking fans re-enacting the Battle of Clontarf

True Detective. Woody Harrelson and Mathew McConaughey. Photograph:  Home Box Office, Inc

An implausable change of heart and a barrage of existential nonsense give the lie to ‘True Detective’

Strings attached: Patrick Freyne (left) and Cormac de Barra enjoying a harmonious session together. Photographs: Eric Luke

Harpists have had mixed fortunes since their early medieval heyday. Now Cormac de Barra is helping to restore the instrument’s s(...)

Patrick Freyne imagines the kind of space-age future he would like to live in. Spoilsport Science Editor Dick Ahlstrom tells him w(...)

Apocalyse soon? ‘The resurgence of post-apocalyptic fiction is partly because the general public is getting that message that things are going to get worse before they get better.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Don’t panic: survival specialist Lewis Dartnell has written a handy guide to surviving the end of the world as we know it and ‘reb(...)

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