Current favourite book
The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth Winthrop reminds me of To Kill a Mockingbird, which is high praise, but that’s how much I loved it. It’s about an 18-year-old black boy in Louisiana in 1943 who is due to be executed later that day for allegedly raping a white girl. The premise is: did he do it or did he not? Exploring themes of justice, racism and bigotry, you get nine points of view including his own, as the hours tick down to his execution. You’re almost sweating as you’re reading it.
I also loved Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout. It features short stories with her character of Olive Kitteridge, who is kind of an anti-heroine, as a thread; sometimes she's the main character, other times she plays a bit-part. It's set in Maine, and Elizabeth points out that behind closed doors, everybody is struggling with something, whether it's health, regrets, loneliness, grief or infidelity. Her writing is very sparse; it's almost what she doesn't say. She's one of the most incredible writers of our times.
I loved Faultline, a co-production between Anu and The Gate production. It was a site-specific, immersive play in which the 12 audience members were divided into two groups of six. The audience was a little involved, but not in a way that’s uncomfortable. It was set in 1982 when gay-bashing was at an all-time high, which caused many gay people to emigrate. It was a dark time. The set felt like you were back in 1982 – the detail was incredible.
Another fabulous play is The Alternative, which was written by Michael Patrick and Oisín Kearney. It’s set in an Ireland which didn’t get independence, so it’s still part of the UK. It’s 2019 and there’s a referendum on whether Ireland should be independent, so the prime minister comes over to debate on BBC Dublin. It’s Brexit upside down, it’s so clever.
Orla Walsh, a pop artist, started off selling pictures of Heinz ketchup on St Stephen's Green. One of their lawyers passed by and told her it was copyright infringement, but Heinz liked them so much they ended up commissioning loads. Orla's now done art of Tayto and Guinness, and has a range of napkins, tea towels and aprons in the UK. Her work is bright, colourful and quirky. I've bought a couple of pieces: a ketchup piece is in the kitchen and a tomato is in the hallway. Everyone who comes around comments on them.
I lived in Paris, and it’s still my favourite city in the world. It has everything: art, ballet, food, history, architecture. The fact I speak French helps, because otherwise people can be quite rude. One of my favourite places to watch the world go by is Café Mollien outside the Louvre. They have the rudest waiters in the planet, so I sit, enjoy a café au lait, and watch people get dismissed and ignored.
I’ve just started listening to As Me with Sinéad by Sinéad Burke, the three-and-a-half foot activist, writer and advocate for inclusivity within the fashion industries. She’s a skilled interviewer. She’s had to struggle and fight for her place, so she can tease that vulnerability out of the people she interviews. I’m also a fan of The West Wing Weekly, where every episode of the TV show is discussed in detail.
Social media profile
I follow Trinny Woodhall on Instagram (@trinnywoodall). I love when she visits Zara and goes around the whole shop, which means I can buy the pieces I like online and avoid going in myself. Instagram is her perfect medium, it really suits her. I think she’s quirky and fun and high-energy, and she has a good eye. She recently came over here for an event in Dublin, and she was engaging – very honest about her life and struggles.
Money Heist is a Spanish TV show on Netflix, and it’s the most-watched non-English series on Netflix. It’s about a bank robbery in Madrid. There are eight robbers whose code names are cities, with The Professor, the orchestrator of the operation, on the outside. You’re on the edge of your seat, and as the series goes on, more jaw-dropping things happen. I’ve watched the first two seasons, and I’m excited there’s another season to watch.
Sinead Moriarty and others perform In the Middle of…, a night of music, theatre and spoken-word to celebrate writer Mary Lavin. It runs at The Courthouse, Kells, Co Meath (January 8th and 9th) and Unitarian Church, Dublin (January 10th)