Sculptor Orla de Brí: My ideal Christmas present? A bunch of power tools

All I want for Christmas: Orla de Brí on opening pressies under the tree, big fires, and Bing Crosby’s Christmas album

Orla de Brí.

Orla de Brí.


Orla de Brí is a renowned Irish sculptor whose outstanding large-scale creations cast predominantly in bronze, steel or fibreglass highlight many public landmarks and galleries. She is from Co Meath.

What’s at the top of your Christmas to-do list?
Cooking the perfect turkey. It hasn’t always worked out so on my sister’s advice, this year it’s going into a bag wrapped in bacon.

What do you want Santa to bring this year?
Power tools are always welcome in my studio or a voucher for a massage, as sculpture is very physical so a massage is great for relaxing the muscles. I rarely think of booking one though.

How do you spend Christmas Day?
Opening pressies under the tree with Finn and our daughter and son Jeda and Cal, big fires, candles, Bing Crosby Christmas album, great chats and lots of laughing followed by a quick snooze before a musical night with the whole family, which goes on till the early hours.

Brussel sprouts? Food heaven or food hell?
Not a fan, broccoli would be the substitute

What’s your favourite Christmas film?
I have a soft spot for It’s a Wonderful Life.

Where is the only place you want to be this Christmas?
Big family party in our house – my dad, who is 87, and my brother lead the festivities. They’re both multi-instrumentalists so they play and we have an old-fashioned sing-song with everyone doing their party piece. Something we have being doing since I was a kid.

What song has you rocking around the Christmas tree?
Has to be The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York.

Who would be your most welcome surprise Christmas dinner guest?
Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, the US congresswoman and activist. I love her, she would be such an inspiring person to talk to. She is an amazing politician and motivator.

Christmas week . . . Are you relaxed or stressed out?
I always try to be chilled out and organised, I like Christmas week as most of the work is done. I pick up the last few things in Dublin on Christmas Eve, meet friends for a seasonal drink in town before heading home to Meath for a traditional Christmas.

What Christmas tradition do you do without fail every year?
At 8pm on Christmas Eve for the last 14 years all my family go to my mum’s grave in Ratoath – we bring hip flasks of hot port and drink a toast to our much-missed, wonderful mother.

The most annoying and irritating thing about Christmas is?
It starts in October!

The favourite part of the Christmas meal?
The clinking of glasses and toast at the beginning of the Christmas meal, where everyone is dressed up and looking forward to good food and conversation. And roast potatoes!

Who’s the star of your Christmas list this year and who’s getting a lump of coal?
Greta Thunberg is definitely on my Christmas list and the last piece of coal before it all stays in the ground goes to Trump.