Donal Ryan: On My Culture Radar

Author on being enamoured by Paris, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, and Limerick’s Italian restaurants

Irish author Donal Ryan: I love all the coffee-drinking and shrugging and fag-smoking in Paris.  Photograph: Anthony Woods

Irish author Donal Ryan: I love all the coffee-drinking and shrugging and fag-smoking in Paris. Photograph: Anthony Woods

 

Current favourite book 
I’m reading Kerry Neville’s second collection, Remember to Forget Me, and it is a masterclass in short fiction. I’m delighted to say that Kerry is currently teaching on our creative writing MA at UL as a Fulbright scholar. Medbh McGuckian’s new poetry collection, Love, the Magician, is spellbinding. 

Restaurant 
We have three world-class restaurants within short walking distance of our house in Castletroy, Limerick: Tuscany Bistro and Bella Italia, two fabulous Italians, and Brew Bros, who do the best burgers in Ireland. This is fortuitous because I’m nearly always hungry, and I love Italian food and burgers. 

Comedian 
Tommy Tiernan is a mad genius. I’m also a big fan of Colm O’Regan of Irish Mammies fame. As well as being spot-on and side-splittingly funny, his satire is full of affection and love. His description of “Mammy” and “Himself” picking up a hitchhiker, and the changing dynamic in the car between the three of them, is a piece of perfect comedy. 

Play/musical 
Try to catch Judith Ryan’s searing, visceral performance in Neil Flynn’s Microdisney. Or anything produced by Limerick’s Bottom Dog Theatre Company – their shows are consistently brilliant.

City 
Outside of beautiful Limerick the only city I’ve spent any significant amount of time in is Paris, and I love all the coffee-drinking and shrugging and fag-smoking. I love Venice, too, even though it gets crazily crowded, and it’s sinking, and it’s covered in pigeon-poop, and everything is overpriced. 

I tried to be the Big-I-Am one time and went to Harry’s Bar with Anne Marie because Hemingway used to go there and Michael Winner had said in his Sunday Times column that it was the best restaurant in the world. But the cheapest thing on the menu was more than my credit card limit and we were getting married a few months later so we had a bellini each and legged it. 

Album 
I love Damien Dempsey’s To Hell or Barbados. I’ve seen him live loads of times and he’s always awesome. I love the way he talks about history and the way he reads and constantly educates himself, then unleashes his reaction to what he’s learned and experienced in this stunningly powerful, beautiful way. And his song Your Pretty Smile could have been written about Anne Marie.

I sang the chorus to her in 2007 and told her that I wrote it for her. I was betrayed by Damien a few days later when he came on the radio singing it. I felt terrible because I’d done it as a joke but she was really disappointed and not at all amused. 

Actor 
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor is an incredible actor. As Nidge in Love/Hate I think he turned in one of the best performances in Irish TV history. I’ve argued that Love/Hate outdid The Sopranos (which I think was one of the best TV shows ever made) in several ways. My stance on this has been attacked and I have been personally poo-pooed for it, but I will never back down. 

TV show 
I loved Love/Hate, as mentioned. The Young Offenders is just fantastic, a scream, brilliantly written and acted. The episode where Billy Murphy hijacks the bus is one of the highlights of my long and illustrious TV-watching career. 

Film 
I just watched The Lady in the Van, the true story of a woman who lived in a clapped-out van in playwright Alan Bennett’s driveway for 15 years. I’m surprised Maggie Smith didn’t get an Oscar for it. 

Donal Ryan is an ambassador for the inaugural Irish Book Week, which takes place across Ireland from October 27th to November 3rd. His novel From a Low and Quiet Sea is out now.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.