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

This is a career to watch. In 2000, as part of researching a book I was writing, I interviewed Sean Coughlan as he was getting ready to leave Baltimor(...)

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

The sun beats down on the little orchard. The air is full of bees, swarming thickly around a young apple tree and dropping to the ground in large c(...)

It takes a Cork person. Pat Murray, president of the Cork branch of the Royal British Legion, reduced Queen Elizabeth to laughter when he reminded her(...)

Mattress Mick with two of the cutouts that dot his northside premises. Photograph: Dave Meehan 1:40

The problem with Mattress Mick is that he is so quotable you can’t get it down fast enough. “This is our empire,” he says as walks through his show(...)

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

When you give up a vice, even temporarily, you secretly think that both you and the world will be remade. It is disappointing to find that you are sti(...)

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

Oh yes, the consumption of alcohol among the Irish. Last year there was a fall of 7.7 per cent, to 10.73 litres of pure alcohol per person per year. T(...)

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

It’s strange when the two of you order nonalcoholic drinks. The barman looks kind of disappointed. Then in the restaurant you send the wine list back (...)

Last week in The Irish Times I began a minor social experiment. I swore off drink for a month. If all goes according to plan this will be the longest (...)

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

I’m giving up drink. For a month. Starting today. I could not have done this without the generous support of my friends. A drinking friend, who sai(...)

Sean Moncrieff on TV3 game show Crossfire. Photograph: Brian McEvoy/TV3 2:09

Sean Moncrieff is punctual and thin – very thin. He has the same sandwich for lunch every day: chicken and coleslaw. He seems a bit wary that t(...)