Andrea Corr: ‘Christmas was like doing a church crawl instead of a pub crawl’

Christmas with . . . Andrea Corr: the musician and singer on childhood memories, her favourite carol and cooking with the family

Andrea Corr: “I love Christmas but the decorations and advertising start going up way too early.” Photograph: Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

Andrea Corr: “I love Christmas but the decorations and advertising start going up way too early.” Photograph: Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

 

Andrea Corr MBE is the lead singer with The Corrs along with siblings Caroline, Sharon and Jim. She also plays the ukulele, piano and tin whistle. Her memoir Barefoot Pilgrimage has just been published by HarperCollins. She is married to Brett Desmond and they have two children

What was Christmas like when you were a young girl?
It was a very special time. On Christmas Eve, we would visit our aunties and uncles and we would enjoy chatting and singing with them. I remember singing Away in a Manger for them. The next day, they would all come over to our house and enjoy dinner and mammy’s delicious mince pies.

What is a very special Christmas memory?
In my book Barefoot Pilgrimage, I vividly recall when I was very young I used to accompany dad to a string of churches where he played the organ at Christmas time. It was like doing a church crawl instead of a pub crawl. My dad called me ‘Pandy’ and he suggested that we both sing O Holy Night in our church on Christmas Day. I was all excited about it but as the day drew nearer I got really nervous and anxious about singing in front of the whole congregation. That morning, I told my mum that I was scared to do it and she was very understanding and told me not to worry. I remember, though, sitting in the pew that Christmas Day and watching dad singing it on his own and my heart was beating with a sense of regret and sadness that I hadn’t joined him in the end. I can still feel how my heart was beating to this very day.

What is your favourite Christmas carol?
It’s O Holy Night for the same reason – for all the warm memories it conjures up for me and my sisters and brother Jim.

What public figure is the real star of your Christmas tree?
Nelson Mandela. He was a unique person who spread the Christmas message of peace and love.

Who would probably not be on you Christmas party list?
I think it would have to be Donald Trump for not spreading the message of love and kindness.

What is your favourite Christmas movie?
I really like It’s a Wonderful Life and I am also really looking forward to seeing The Joker – Joaquin Phoenix is a remarkable actor and truly mesmerising.

Will you cook a traditional Christmas dinner?
After I have done a major Christmas shopping with all the food and, of course, don’t forget lots of good wine, we will get down to preparing the dinner. It will be a turkey dinner with brussels sprouts and my special red cabbage recipe, which really goes very well with turkey.

Will you choose a real tree or fake fir?
I love a real Christmas tree and the kids and myself have great fun decorating it with all the lights and baubles. I love watching it twinkle in the dark at night.

Strangest Christmas Eve?
I remember a few years back, myself and the sisters were stranded in New York in a massive snowfall. We were really worried that we were going to miss our Christmas Day back home with our family in Ireland. Miraculously, however, the runways were cleared and we eventually took off with a sigh of relief.

Where does Santa leave your presents – under the tree or at the end of the bed?
Santa always leaves all our presents under the Christmas tree and we leave out a drink and a bit of food for him to enjoy on his merry way. I remember as a child seeing his footprint from his boots in our living room.

Favourite time of year?
I love Christmas but the decorations and advertising start going up way too early. They go up even before Halloween in shops like Brown Thomas. Halloween is also a great time of year, especially in Ireland, and there is plenty of time to enjoy all our festivities at every time of the year.