95 things to look forward to: Matches, movies, plays, pints, pals

Brighter days are ahead. Ninety-five well-known people tell us what they are most eagerly anticipating in the coming months

Daniel O’Donnell
Singer
Majella and I are both looking forward to spending time with our grandchildren again and seeing them as often as we can. I am also looking forward to getting back on tour with my band and crew and seeing all my friends and fans who have stuck by us all through the pandemic. 

Victoria Smurfit
Actor, writer and producer
I look forward to a menu. To dating. To hugging my parents without fear. To accepting a stranger’s help. The smell of an aeroplane door opening to a new environment. To sharing plates and holding hands. To sweaty ceilings at 3am raining on my hair. To theatre. To being on set without a mask removing my make-up. To wrestling for the last custard cream. I look forward to natural human interaction. And not being afraid.

Joe Duffy
Broadcaster
Art galleries, art classes, art shops, museums, libraries, bookshops – new and second hand – fire stations, die cast model fairs, vintage tractor rallies and going to Wexford! Indoor swimming – I desperately wanted to swim in the sea off the Murro Del Torres (Bull Wall) in Dollymount but I couldn’t find a Dry Robe in my favourite colour, “Elephant’s breath”. Above all, bursting my bubble to meet family and friends. 

Aisling Bea
Aisling Bea

Aisling Bea
Comedian and actor
I want to hear terrible music picked by someone else and be forced to listen to it in public because we are in public, in a pub and I am not the DJ. I am looking forward to seeing people’s bottom halves and looking into their unfiltered, uninterrupted-by-bad-reception eyes and horsing a cool crispy pint, poured by someone else who I have given money to, into my big thirsty mouth and then getting over excited and starting to mix drinks and do shots and regretting it the next day and wishing I had remembered the lesson I learned over lockdown which is “I really just need the one drink or two to be honest.” Also, I have to put a mandatory clause in that I am obviously really looking forward to seeing my mother. 

Rachel Conway
Midwife and lactation consultant
I’m eager to welcome partners back to antenatal clinics and wards. I’m excited to see our cute former “clients” accompanying mum to her visits and scans and the wonder on their little faces as they see their future sibling “on telly”. I really miss being able to hug a mum when she needs one. Midwife means “with woman”. I cannot wait to be fully “with” mothers again and smile at them, without a mask.

Louise McSharry
Broadcaster
It’s late afternoon and I’m walking into a crowded tent at a festival with a plastic pint in each hand and a backpack of essentials on my back. I don’t know the song the act is playing but it’s electronic music and it’s brilliant so I start casually dancing. I feel the heat of the crowd and catch the smell of the tent and turn to my friends and we just beam at each other at the pure joy of it.

Gemma Dunleavy
Gemma Dunleavy. Photograph: George Voronov

Gemma Dunleavy
Musician
I’m looking forward to a day of crowded, warm chaos. Starting off in Penneys on a Saturday, feeling the herds of people brush by in a hurry. Then onto Club Comfort, dancing with my friends in a packed club wishing I’d worn something lighter while listening to our friends play the songs we needed. Followed by a lazy day in my ma’s, enveloped by the smell of the Sunday breakfast, covered in my nieces and nephews, roping me into playing games.

Bassam Al-Sabah
Artist
Being with my grandmother. I’ve seen her once over the past year briefly, waving to each other through a window. Beyond that I have dreams of cold Negronis in the summer by a beach.

Donal Ryan
Author
“Kennedy is looking forward now to standing up at the wedding table, in that furnace of popularity,” says the small town Cyrano de Bergerac of the man whose wedding speech he’s writing in Martin Dyar’s poem. I’m looking forward to that furnace too, not of popularity, but of wedding days filled with cousins and friends and misty-eyed grandparents and yarn-spinning uncles and know-it-all expats and drunken 3am headbanging to Thunderstruck, everyone squeezed into one sweaty, dodgy-dancing, well-wishing mass, with no chance of catching anything worse than a hangover. My wife worries that by the time we get to an unrestricted wedding again we’ll have graduated to the stage where people will feel obliged to “go over and say hello” to us. I’m sure her fear will prove unfounded before another half-lived year goes by. 

Mango
Rapper
It isn’t the whopper sweaty raves, the drunken huddles in snugs but just hugging my da. He has a kidney transplant so he has been isolating since day one and all I want to do is hug him and drink to the wee hours talking football and politics.

Blindboy Boatclub
Blindboy Boatclub

Blindboy Boatclub
Comedian, podcaster and author
I’m looking forward to the smell of nature in May. It’s that smell that smells like summer. It’s not grass, it’s not trees, it’s not flowers. It’s all of them together. It’s this floral curtain of optimism that reminds me of summers when I was a child. It’s the smell of life. And it smells different in the morning than it does in the evening. I’m gasping for that.

Luke O’Neill
Immunologist
Going to the airport. Strange isn’t it? When you can’t do something, you really want to do it. I’ll have a child-like sense of wonder going there. But most of all, the joy of travelling to visit my sister Helen in Brighton and my son Stevie in Cambridge. 

Joanne McNally
Comedian
I'm bursting to get back into a theatre - I'd murder a matinee. I used to go to shows a lot on my own in London,  I'm craving the old-school interiors of the West End, the tiny toilets, the warm white wine, the velvet everything. At this stage I'd pay 500 quid to go and watch a random child's nativity play in a town hall in Scunthorpe.
 

Billy Holland
Munster rugby player
I can’t wait to get to the beach with my wife, Lanlih, and son, Matthew. I love the sea and the feeling of jumping into the (freezing cold) water. Even better if I can end the day with fish and chips at O’Cathain’s pub in Ballyferriter.

Rick O’Shea
Broadcaster
Being on a street somewhere full of signs in a language I don’t speak and just walking to see what’s around the next corner.

Marian Keyes
Marian Keyes. Photograph: Dean Chalkley

Marian Keyes
Author
Watching Mammy Keyes hug all her grandchildren as soon as her second dose of the vaccine kicks in. I’m visualising a queue of páistí a mile long (although there are only seven of them). I’m also happy for them. The younger ones (Teddy, Hannah Banana The Boldest Girl in Ireland and Tomás) have been so confused at not being let into the house and having the head eaten off them any time they lunge at her for a hug or a kiss. It’ll be quite the day!

Karl Deeter
Broker, author and musician
I want to play a gig, nothing special, just the usual ones I did every week of my adult life in whatever pub will have me. Live music is a tonic and definitely cheaper than the psychotherapy I suspect I’ll require if it doesn’t come back soon. Since live music ended I don’t play at all, I have barely picked up the guitar or played the upright bass; without people and performance, music has lost its meaning to me. I long to bash out tunes and sing and play live again. 

Mary Lou McDonald
TD and leader of Sinn Féin
The West coast, beach walks, bracing air. Breakfast get-togethers in the city - outdoors is grand! But above all other things I long to be reunited with my hairdresser; good hair is number one on my wish list. The sooner the better.

Tolü Makay
Tolü Makay. Photograph: Donal Murphy

Tolü Makay
Singer
Travel. I need a self-cation. I don’t know where’d I’d go, but I imagine somewhere hot, close to the sea with amazing food and fantastic music. Self-cations are a new thing I found that I love and are great for my mental health. Before I go being social, what I feel I need the most is meditation, a moment to feel still and realise what has been lost and achieved, celebrate within myself and understand what I want for myself. 2020 was a tough year for us all and when Covid is over I’d like to remove the stress that built within because of it, so I can feel my best moving forward.

Conor Hanratty
Director
Being in a theatre for a live show; that gorgeous moment just before a performance when hundreds of people go quiet and become an audience together. Sharing time and space, and the excitement of what’s to come. And, of course, drink in the bar afterwards.

Annie West
Illustrator
It’ll be nice to turn on the news and have just something normal like, oh, a thumping great political scandal for entertainment and work. I’m also very much looking forward to sitting in a tea house close enough to eavesdrop on people’s crazy conversations. Otherwise known as “research”.

Henry McKean
Journalist
My folks being able to play again with my three-year-old son, their grandson, and have fun. The year 2019 was a very busy year for me, travelling the world and the country for work. So it was great to be able to see the kids grow up and be around over the past year. A part of me will miss lockdown. I actually liked Zoom quizzes. Not having to go to countless events and parties. I can stay at home with my wife and family, close the curtains, go to bed early and you’re helping. Bliss. 

Simon Harris
Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science
Meeting people. I am an avid social media user but I can’t wait to actually meet people again. I get an energy and a buzz from chatting to people so I can’t wait to get back out on the road. Having a pint in my local with my friends and a good catch-up. And a haircut. The current situation with this quiff is not sustainable.

Simon O’Connor
Simon O’Connor

Simon O’Connor
Director of the Museum of Literature Ireland
Right now I dream of a sea swim with my dad next week after months on dry land, loud sleepovers for the kids, sitting alone in a gallery, raucous house dinners with friends, a pint with my wife after work, dressing up, the scent of perfume and an end to the tyranny of leisurewear.

Alison Curtis
Broadcaster
Driving. Getting into my car and driving on a long, open road for a few hours. I love open spaces and, being a Canadian, can go the distance when it comes to car journeys. I would pick Co Clare first. I would love to pack up the car and head there for a few days. Visit a tiny pub, hear loads of chatter and laughter and just enjoy a pint of Guinness. 

Ciara Mageean
Athlete
After Lockdown 3.0: The Winter Edition, I am looking forward to the sun and feeling the warm rays. With less travel than normal for me, I’ve got into gardening more and I can’t wait to see my little plants grow. I also look forward to post-Covid when I can pet every dog in the park like I used to.

Brendan Courtney
Television presenter and fashion designer
I have a birthday at the end of June. I am the big 50. My hope is that my favourite place in the world, Glenmalure Lodge in the foothills of Lugnaquilla in Co Wicklow, is open. We always go hiking in Lugnaquilla, come down and our little tradition on my birthday is that we have a dip in the freezing cold river and then go to Bosca Beatha, a converted horse cart sauna by the river. Then you go in for your pint in Glenmalure Lodge and stay overnight. My dream is that I can do that. 

Louise O’Neill
Author
I want to get in a car with my boyfriend and our dog and go on adventures together. I want to go swimming in Keem Bay and cycle around Slea Head and take surfing lessons in Lahinch. I’ve been lucky to spend lockdown in west Cork but I’m ready to explore now.

Mary McAleese
Mary McAleese. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Mary McAleese
Former president of Ireland
Hearing my wee grandsons shout “Nana” when they realise it is me at their door. My mother turns 90 next week and I am really looking forward to a belated party that isn’t online. First stop on the holiday agenda will be a reunion with the Kennedys in Portmagee with fresh plaice just off the boat for breakfast, rambles on Valentia Island with Mick O’Connell and slowly back home via a walk on Banna Strand with the McGarty clan and chats with friends over beautiful dinners in Ballyseede Castle and Shannon Park Hotel. Perfection.

Richard Ford
Author
Yesterday, I finished 14 weeks of Zoom teaching; plus, a cold winter of doing what it is that I do – trying to write a novel. But today I got on an airplane (double masked – normally not that festive) and flew some distance across the continent, here, to see a long and dear friend whose spirited wife is descending now into memory-less-ness. Not the standard holiday. But. My friend is a great wit, and has been indoors lovingly attendant ever since Covid came, and could – I felt – do with a visit. I have no doubt we’ll have some laughs, revisit some stories, possibly invent a new one. Spend an hour or two. That’s it. Call it age-appropriate, plague-year fun. It’s what’s available. I’ll take it gladly.

Phil Healy
Athlete
The ability to go back home to Cork and being able to see my friends there, having my training partners back and that fun and craic at training. And celebrating the small things because we have gone through enough tough times. 

Alison Spittle
Comedian and podcaster
Being slightly drunk in a Portuguese supermarket. Wet hair, sunburned nose, padding up and down the boxed wine aisle with a basket full of those custard tarts, suncream and a bottle of wine that costs ¤4.50 because I can afford to be posh. 

Zainab Boladale
Television presenter and journalist
As the days get longer and sunnier, I’m looking forward to the idea of getting to wear my summer clothes which haven’t seen daylight in a while. I would love to go to a beach in the southwest over the summer for a week enjoying the fresh air and simplicity of being out of Dublin.

Donie O’Sullivan
Donie O’Sullivan. Photograph: Douglas Healey

Donie O’Sullivan
CNN journalist
I cannot wait to be able to travel home to Cahersiveen and see my mom, dad and sisters.

Clare Dunne
Actress and screenwriter
The solo day trips I do when I write. My own form of Ulysses. When I pack a bag at dawn, not knowing where I’ll go. I catch the wave of the day and let my instincts take me to the city, to the beaches, the cafes, galleries, parks and pubs. I listen to the chatter of Dubliners and it fills me with ideas and the buzz of humans just doing their thing while I type away. Most of all I crave the bit at the end of the day, when I pull up a stool at a bar, alone and fall into conversation with a stranger. Those chats are sometimes the deepest ones you have and you may never see each other again. Priceless.

Colm O’ Gorman
Executive director of Amnesty International Ireland
Food has always been one of my joys. I love cooking for family and friends. The one great joy I am looking forward to once the lockdown ends is having our kitchen full of friends and family.

Paschal Donohoe
Minister for Finance
Standing on a ferry on the way to Valentia Island, Kerry, with the Waterboys playing from my car – Fisherman’s Blues. Once I arrive I will stand outside the Royal Hotel, with a pint of Guinness, and I will listen to Lana Del Rey. I will then think of a visit to see the Skelligs and eat fish and chips. 

Róisín Ingle
Journalist
A long game of Scrabble in front of the fire in the drawing room of Roundwood House, Co Laois. Hannah Flynn wandering in with fresh coffee and flapjacks, her husband Paddy arriving to sing us a new song. My daughters somewhere in the house or in the garden, playing with Paddy and Hannah’s daughters Amelie and Lucie. I am looking forward to Paddy cooking us a gourmet dinner, to eating four delicious courses with strangers who become friends around a table, all of us then singing in the library later. I am looking forward to drinking way too much wine and staying up way too late and crawling into crisp, clean sheets. 

Anna Haugh
Chef proprietor of Myrtle restaurant in London
Summer. Freshly cut grass has a glowing effect inside me, it brings me back in time to great summers past, freshly ripped mint, the smell of a burning barbecue, the smell and frizz of a freshly poured beer from a can into a glass tickling my nose. 

Chupi Sweetman
Jeweller
I can’t wait to make supper for our gang of friends. I have missed the big celebrations, but even more so I have missed evenings at home, something delicious simmering on the stove, the laughter of friends and those loud joyful conversations where we set the world to rights. I read once your family are the people you cook for and I’m looking forward to that.

James Kavanagh
James Kavanagh. Photograph: Alan Betson

James Kavanagh
Presenter and writer
I can’t wait to be absolutely gee-eyed and giddy on Fade Street with all my sesh pigs. Slightly sunburnt from day drinking and heading for a dance at Mother that evening. The small things we took for granted will be the biggest luxuries.

Gavan Reilly
Journalist and broadcaster
Saturday mornings. I work six mornings a week so Saturdays are a release valve but I’ve felt the pinch of not being able to head out for a spontaneous brunch or to do something with my wife and daughter – she was only eight months old at first lockdown and enjoyed her Water Babies and music classes before they stopped. It’ll be lovely to get back to that sort of routine.

Stephen McPhail
Former Irish soccer international and sporting director at Shamrock Rovers
I’m looking forward to fans back in the stadiums, for obvious reasons, and also a holiday with the family. It feels so long at this stage.

Orla Tinsley
Writer and educator
Early morning walks on the beach with friends I haven’t seen in years, bodies on the sand and ice-cream on the shore. The low hum of coffee shops and stores across the city signalling that morning has arrived and knowing, with one deep breath, elbows touching, how lucky we are. 

Maia Dunphy
Broadcaster
A good hotel buffet breakfast; predominantly because it means I will have spent at least one night in a hotel. I hope they find a way to safely allow self-service again, because I’m not sure I’ll be able to look a buffet staff member in the eye and ask for six sausages. 

Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan
Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan. Photograph: Basil Lim

Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan
Arts manager, writer and performer
Being alone in a crowd, experiencing art. I can’t wait to eat popcorn alone in the cinema, or sit in the hush of a theatre, or be buoyed by a crowd at a gig. I’m excited to welcome that special solitude back in my life; that comfortable, collective companionship.

Alice Mary Higgins
Independent Senator
This spring: cherry blossom in city parks, books in the post, video chats with my little niece who is enjoying her first words. In the future: swimming in the Atlantic, the collective joys and absurdities of a dance floor, global and local momentum to learn from this crisis and change things. 

Paul Harrington
Musician and broadcaster
I am looking forward to being able to look forward. No matter how small or big it might be, I’m looking forward to being able to plan something concrete. I’ll start with lunch at the Ivy and dinner at the Trocadero with my wife Karol, daughter Molly and son Daniel, and a pint or two in my local. Not necessarily on the same day but stranger things have happened. Oh, and yes, my 60th birthday party, currently on Covid ice, is going to happen (no matter what age I am). 

Lynn Ruane
Independent Senator
The dream is to be sat in the lobby of a hotel. In a window that looks out to a heavily populated street. I write a few scenes or an article, and then I order a coffee and people watch for a while. As dusk falls I order an old fashioned, write some more, people watch some more, and then I get a taxi home. Feeling full of the energies of everyone and every sentence that I encountered throughout the day.

David McCullagh
Presenter, RTÉ Six-One news
I’m looking forward to seeing the people in my life who are vulnerable being fully vaccinated. Plus a swim in the pool, a meal with family, a pint with friends, a Leinster match at the RDS, seeing live music again – but most of all I’m looking forward to a much-needed visit to the barbers.

Ardal O’Hanlon
Ardal O’Hanlon

Ardal O’Hanlon
Comedian and actor
Among the straws I’m clutching at are playing tennis again on April 26th; my eldest daughter Emily’s graduation in early June; visiting places like the Honan chapel in Cork to see Harry Clarke’s stained glass windows when we’re allowed; and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to doing some meaningful work on stage and screen before the year is out.

Neven Maguire
Chef-proprietor of MacNean House Restaurant
I’m so looking forward to going for dinner in a nice restaurant and getting someone to cook for me. 

Takashi Miyazaki
Chef-proprietor of Michelin-starred Ichigo Ichie restaurant
Warmer weather. It’s been a long winter and to see the weather getting better each day, waking up to blue skies and sunshine is a simple pleasure. We explored a lot of our county last year and found gorgeous spots in west and east Cork, so we’re planning on doing more of that.

Emer McLysaght
Author and journalist
It was about this time last year that the flowers started going buck wild like they knew we needed them, and I feel like that’s on the way soon again. I’ve booked a week away in Mayo with some friends in August and I’m feeling pretty positive that we’ll be able to go and I can’t wait to jump in the Atlantic again. And just imagine going to see Wild Mountain Thyme in a packed cinema with everyone gently heckling at the same time. Pure joy. 

Arthur Mathews
Writer
I’m looking forward to the warm blast of heat when I arrive in Nice airport on a sunny summer’s day. And I like the idea of a communal event, a concert perhaps or a football match. It’s been so long. 

Matt Cooper
Broadcaster and journalist
I want a long weekend in Manhattan, where we can walk all the streets, go to a show, eat in great restaurants, drink in wonderful bars and, especially, spend hours wandering the galleries. I want to walk the High Line and stroll into the Whitney Museum of American Art and enjoy the Hoppers and other wonderful paintings on view. 

Bressie
Niall Breslin. Photograph: Alan Betson

Niall Breslin
Musician
That first moment at the start of a gig, being called by the stage manager to say “You’re about to go on”, that incredible buzz you get before you walk on stage and the energy in the room that is irreplaceable for anyone who plays live music. I am also looking forward to being able to be spontaneous. To say f**k it, let’s go to west Cork. 

Máire Flynn
Co-owner The Tannery restaurant, townhouse and cookery school
I’m looking forward to my wisteria blooming and my first peony roses opening up. The wisteria heralds the month of June for me, my favourite month of the year. I have minded it over the years and it gives me great joy now. It’s a fleeting pleasure though, there’s only a few days when it’s in full glory. Many years ago my dear friend Valerie gave me my first peony rose plant – another June beauty – and when the first one opens, it always reminds me of her. 

Joanne O’Riordan
Sports journalist and activist
Simple – returning to watch games, but in particular, the drive with my father to the game, the Sunday breakfast with him discussing teams and tactics, and the inevitable scrap when he turns right after I, along with Google Maps, clearly stated to turn left. Anyone who has travelled a long distance with their father knows you’re no sooner out the gate when you hear, “we’re making great time, aren’t we?” But, these are the moments we live for.

Jacqui Hurley
Sports broadcaster and author
I’m most looking forward to seeing my family. My sister lives in the UK so we haven’t seen her in over a year. She has a little girl who is the same age as my Lily and even though they chat regularly on FaceTime, I’m just so sad for the real quality time they’ve missed out on together. 

Justine Nantale
Justine Nantale

Justine Nantale
Singer and educator
Making a trip to Lidl and Aldi to buy plants for my balcony. Lately I have been taking walks in my neighbourhood, taking photographs of trees, plants, flowers and that makes me so happy. I am making a plan to bring nature to my home since I am going to spend most of my time working from home.

Rónán Hession
Author
We’ve been playing a lot of Monopoly lately, and I have just discovered that my 10-year-old son has an entrepreneurial ruthlessness. Now that we can go beyond our 5km, we have promised him a trip to town to visit as many of the streets on the Monopoly board as possible. We’ll start at Busáras and work our way up the yellow area to Talbot Street, then onto Henry Street and the other red streets. We’ll step off the board at the Tram Cafe for pancakes or maybe grab an ice-cream at Gino’s before buying a few hotels on Shrewsbury Road and rescuing my wife from jail. I find that it’s the little things that matter, like finding out your son is likely going to become a tycoon who will either support me in retirement or possibly crash the property market.

Muireann O’Connell
Presenter
People have huge plans for when the world opens up. A load of us are apparently going to be some sort of Tom Crean/ Michelle Obama hybrid that grabs life and all it has to offer like a walking Instagram post. My plans aren’t so lofty. I’m going to grab everyone I know in to hugs that border on uncomfortable, they go on for so long. Oh, and get my lip zapped. I’ve walked around like a teenage boy in the first stages of puberty for long enough. 

Francis Brennan
Hotelier
Mixing with people. I live by myself in a very remote area. I never realised how remote until Covid arrived. While I enjoy being surrounded by nature, I really miss chatting about nothing. I also really miss airports and the thrill of an adventure. 

John Brennan
Hotelier
Live events and concerts. The banter with guests and all the team. Special dining experiences in restaurants. Being able to plan an outing on whim. A chilled glass of Chablis somewhere warm.

Louise Kennedy
Louise Kennedy

Louise Kennedy
Fashion designer
The sound of surf waves breaking on Egypt Beach and warm sun on my back. The beach is close to the charming village of East Hampton, New York, where I can rest easily and turbo-charge my mind. I long to drink an early morning coffee before strolling off into sunshine to feel the sand between my toes. Life there is truly idyllic.

Áine Ní Ghlinn
Children’s Laureate
I miss working with real children in a real classroom. I can’t wait to see a real smile when a child completes his/her first poem. What I’m looking forward to most is interacting with people in real life and not just in 2D from the shoulders up. 

Malachy Clerkin
Sportswriter
This is very simple, now. I am looking forward to having a pint. Not a drink, a pint. Not a session, a pint. Not a gang of us, although that will be nice when it happens. But first, a pint. A corner stool or an empty table, a half-started book or a match on the telly, an hour robbed from the world. And a pint. It will happen. It will be glorious.

Dil Wickremasinghe
Journalist and podcaster
A time when people will invest in their mental and emotional wellbeing as much as they do with their physical health. Actively working on becoming self-aware and embracing oneself is the first step towards a fuller life, preparing for the unexpected and having more empathy and compassion for people, animals and our planet.

Paul Howard
Author
I turned 50 in January and didn’t get to celebrate it properly. I have a handful of friends who’ve also turned 50 since the start of the pandemic and didn’t get to enjoy it. We’ve promised that we’re going to have a party together when the zombie apocalypse is over.

Ruth McGowan
Ruth McGowan

Ruth McGowan
Director of the Dublin Fringe Festival
The return of happenstance. The everyday magic of running in to a much-missed pal on Parnell Street, sharing their excitement about the brand-new runners they’ve just bought, or their brand-new boyfriend. The romance of living in town is not knowing where your day might take you. A well-timed “pint?” text, a spare ticket for a show, or a yell from a table on Drury Street can turn an errand into an anecdote. 

Jess Murphy
Owner and chef at Kai Galway
I’m looking forward to wearing pants! Real pants with a waistband, and getting dressed up, even wearing Spanx. And ordering a Negroni at dinner, then someone telling me I have lipstick on my teeth because they can see my entire smiling face.

Colm O’Regan
Author, comedian and broadcaster
Small talk. About a thing you and the other person did. “How did ye get on after? Did ye stay much later? We left because we had to be up early. For the other thing.” And then you describe the thing and they say “Oh yeah, we did that last week. What did ye make of it? Wasn’t yer man a bit... ya know”, and then you agree, “Yes, yer man was a bit… yeah.” And they tell you “but you missed what happened after you left”. “Gway! What happened?” And they tell you and you say: “What?!”

Nicole Flattery
Author
Like many people, it’s seeing my close friends again. Two live in London, one in Cornwall, one in Munich. I just want us all in the same room again. I know that when it happens I’m definitely going to cry and they will all take the piss out of me. I can’t wait. 

Amanda Coogan
Performance artist
Live performance: bumping shoulders, spilling drinks, singing along at a gig. Sitting in a theatre smelling the people around me. Standing in a gallery, performer sweeping past. When liveness and togetherness decoupled, something magical got lost: the electricity. I cannot wait to be together in the same place, at the same time. 

Maureen Kennelly
Director of the Arts Council
For me, the best of life in Ireland is represented through its festivals. I long for the fellow feeling and fun, which builds up so quickly in these magical gatherings. I cannot wait to hit the road with abandon and visit a town new to me, discover quirky venues, cafes and shops and meet new people. Such an excursion will truly feel like freedom restored. 

Stefanie Preissner
Stefanie Preissner

Stefanie Preissner
Writer
Pre-dawn taxi in the lashing rain and dark. Queuing up at security in a blind panic because I forgot to separate my liquids into a clear bag. The overwhelming wall of smell as you walk through the duty-free perfume, Butler’s coffee and a free chocolate in Terminal Two. Dragging my suitcase along a travelator. Fumbling to find my boarding pass as the hostess makes everyone wait behind me so she can check my seat. Luggage up, bums in seats, the click of the belt and the emergency exit protocol which I will pay keen attention to having not seen it in over a year. And take-off. Bliss. 

Laura Kelly
Manager of Kelly’s Hotel Rosslare
Family dinners around one table together, meeting my friends for a much needed catch-up over drinks (and dare I say it, a bit of a boogie). A night away with no children. But, most importantly, being able to introduce our newest daughter, Sophie, to the world, there are so many people she has yet to meet.

Niamh O’Malley
Artist and Irish representative at the 2021 Venice Biennale
I’m imagining sitting in my mother’s beautiful garden in Mayo this summer, with sounds from my son (who in contrast to me is growing up in Dublin’s inner city), and my niece and nephews, faintly audible, as they finally get to roam and play together again. 

Barry Douglas
Pianist and Camerata Ireland artistic director
I am not a gardener but lately I have pretended to be one. I just cut the grass with my son Liam last Saturday and now I plan to tidy up weeds, flowers and checking on my French lavender. Then I am going to put on a thick coat and sit outside, sipping Provençal rosé wine and reading a book.

Shona Murray
Journalist
Huddled around a busy restaurant table - outside or inside - with the best friends and family; sharing each other’s plates and laughing so hard you have to hold on to one another. I’m really looking forward to the craic, and being a bit lighthearted again. I also can’t wait for randomness to return. Spying someone you know outside Grogans and stopping for a pint of Guinness. 

Arthur Riordan
Writer and author
Cafés. My favourite place to work on a script has always been sitting outside a café. I’m aware this makes me a cliché, and I’m comfortable with that. You can work undisturbed most of the time, but if, once in a while, someone you know happens by, it’s a welcome excuse to procrastinate. There’s another thing to look forward to: meeting people by chance again.

Aoibheann McNamara
Aoibheann McNamara. Photograph: Sarah Weal

Aoibheann MacNamara
Proprietor of Ard Bia restaurant and the Tweed Project
Right now, there is simply nothing I miss from my previous life and nothing I look forward to. I am happy with the sun steaming through the windows and the sea swims with friends. The smile a stranger gives me because they have the time to, now fills me with joy. Everything is so uncomplicated and easy. Ireland is the place, there is nowhere else I’d rather be. We are so lucky. 

Martin Shannahan
Chef proprietor of Fishy Fishy Restaurant
The drive to west Cork or south Kerry to search out some really good seafood. I want to make a picnic, have a bottle of wine or bubbles, find a nice secluded cove or beach for a swim and a snooze. A day’s horse racing or showjumping would be great, a few pints and a singsong wouldn’t go astray either. Being able to take my mum for lunch, or go to Páirc Uí Chaoimh for a serious game of hurling – but for tonight a nice piece of John Dory will do. 

Siobhán Cullen
Actor
A swim in Salthill this weekend. I love swimming in the sea; it’s one of the things I miss most living in London. I’m very lucky to be able to travel with work at the moment. I’m in Galway for a play, but I’m also looking forward to getting back to London to be reunited with my dog, Blue. 

John Boyne
Author
Strangely, the things I’m looking forward to most are the very things I once dreaded. Going through airports, undertaking book tours, travelling from city to city with a bag full of dirty laundry. Having spent most of the lpast 20 years doing exactly that, frankly I was glad of the break. Now I can’t wait to learn that my flight has been delayed for a further two hours or to open my suitcase and discover that my shower soap has leaked all over my clothes. Also, I have this peculiar urge to go dancing. I’m not even much of a dancer but I really don’t care. I just want to shake my ass on a busy dancefloor and kiss some strangers. As many strangers as possible, if I’m honest.

Paul Fahy
Paul Fahy

Paul Fahy
Artistic director of Galway International Arts Festival
I am dying to hear the sound of a live audience in a theatre… but I won’t talk about work. I have taken each day as it comes, walking, an occasional swim, embracing the outdoors. I am lucky my 5km limit has allowed me enjoy Galway’s beautiful coastline. As I write, I am looking out my window at the beauty of a cherry blossom tree about to bloom as spring bursts into all its glory.

Alannah Hopkin
Author
Ever since 1995 I have spent the end of June in Bantry for the West Cork Chamber Music Festival. It is a treasured interlude of musical excellence, walks and sociability. While this year’s festival will, alas, be virtual, I look forward greatly to my usual Bantry break, with headphones to hand instead of concert tickets. 

Quentin Fottrell
New York-based Irish journalist
When my mother and I both have our vaccines, I would like her to fly from Dublin to New York, so we can walk in Central Park and go to restaurants. I want to show her San Francisco. Ironically, I have my shot, but she is still waiting her turn. I have not seen one of my best friends, Frances (96) in nearly a year, even though she lives two blocks away, and we talk every day. We are counting the days and weeks to when I can visit. She says she has a new teacup waiting for me! 

Vicki Notaro Carlyle
Editor of Stellar Magazine and managing director of VIP Publishing Group
It being warm enough to sit out on the road on a sunny evening and have socially distanced drinks with the neighbours. It was a real highlight of last summer, getting to know the people we normally just nod hello at. And you can’t beat a glass of rosé in the sun! 

Dr Cara Augustenborg
Environmental scientist and broadcaster
Taking a ferry to my favourite place, Inishbofin, as soon as it’s reopened to visitors. My first stop will be a drink at Day’s Bar and a long overdue catch-up with the owner, Adrian Herily, followed by a cycle across the island to my favourite beach for a swim in its crystal clear, turquoise waters. 

Louis Copeland
Tailor
Going to the airport. Before, I used to get stressed queuing to get through security. I’m now looking forward to it and relishing the thought. 

Niamh Campbell
Niamh Campbell. Photograph: Ste Murray

Niamh Campbell
Author
My one-year-old niece Lani, who I take care of on certain days of the week, has recently learned to voluntarily communicate affection. She stops what she’s doing as if struck, lumbers across the room, puts her arms around you and says ‘“mwah” very solemnly. This is a ‘kiss’.; it can happen at any time. 

Ray D’Arcy
Broadcaster
I have a picture of Portally in Co Waterford as the screensaver on my computer. That’s what I’m most looking forward to, running on the cliff walk , walking into the sea and maybe catching a glimpse of the resident shy seal in this most idyllic of spots. I fantasise about this daily. 

Ollie Jennings
Co-founder of Macnas
I want to be busy again. During lockdown I’ve been scheming a new series of Druid Sessions in the lovely intimate Mick Lally Theatre in Galway. I want to invite the great Clare singer Katie Theasby. I want to hear Tolü Makay sing her soulful version of ‘N17’ live to a packed house in the round at Druid. I want to mingle with old friends in the foyer before doors open.

Daithi Ó Sé
Television presenter
The freedom to be able to go for a pint on a Thursday evening. Without thinking of it...just saying ‘I’ll go for 2’ and again having the freedom to stay for 5. I won’t shout out like Braveheart but inside will tell a different story. It’s only in the third compounded lockdown that this is really hitting me. 

Kit de Waal
Author
Spring is its own tonic. Now we’re at the turn of the year, the lighter nights and slightly warmer days always makes me feel optimistic. I sit in my tiny garden under a blanket and cradle a cup of tea which I couldn’t have done a few months ago. I listen to the traffic on the busy road outside, the young boy in the flat upstairs getting a telling off, ghastly jazz next door and I smile. It’s good to be alive, so. And summer’s coming, unreliable and too short, like a bad boyfriend but welcome nonetheless. I have a birthday in July and I have a little soiree planned. For soiree read “six good friends and a box of wine”. I cannot wait.