My Holidays


Mathew Gilsenan - The Celtic Tenors

What’s your earliest holiday memory?

Ballybunion in a crowded tent with my three sisters and brother. I’ve recollections of sandwiches, ice creams, sweets, body surfing in the frozen sea and the sun always shining.

What was your worst holiday?

Before we were married we went to Sri Lanka. We arrived without suncream and decided against buying it in the expensive hotel. There was no shop but we found a guy with a stall at the beach selling little bottles. We guessed the label was faded as the bottles had been out in the sun. Putting it on, it seemed a little runny and transparent. Three hours later we knew something was wrong – it seemed more like lard. The next day our skin started lifting off – even getting sternum burn. But it was one of the best holidays we had in the end!

What was your best holiday?

I’m a total junkie for high places. My favourite place to go on holiday would be Zion National Park in Utah. I went there unprepared in converse runners for a doddle up to Angel’s Landing from the floor of the canyon. Four hours later we were only half way up the 4km hike. Either side was a 1,000ft drop. You could see coaches like ants on the road. I was like a limpet stuck to the ground in case I fell. It’s not safe and people die there, but that gives a realness to it, so it feels like a real adventure. I liked the elements, the wildlife, the sheer challenge. I’d love to bring the kids over.

If budget or work were no restriction, what would be your dream holiday?

I’d love to go to a base camp on the Tibetan Plateau. I don’t think I’d need to climb a mountain but would like to see the grandeur of the Himalayas. I enjoy driving, so I’d like to do a motorbike trip with my wife across the US from coast to coast.

If you had your pick, who would you bring on holiday with?

TV presenter Bruce Parry would be great to go on an adventure with.

What’s your favourite place in Ireland?

I really love Kerry and the west coast of Ireland. I love Roundstone and wherever there is good music in pubs. It’s something I think is missing on the east coast.

Your recommended holiday reading?

I wasn’t a great reader until recently and there was a lot of Irish stuff I hadn’t read. So on a recent holiday I read Ulyssesby James Joyce. I thought it was going to be impenetrable and impossible, but I loved it. At the moment I’m in a rage reading The Great War for Civilisationby Robert Fisk – it’s an extraordinary book.

Where will you go to next?

We went to an amazing place called Polaris World in Murcia, Spain. It’s a village with thousands of apartments and loads of houses with very reasonable prices and incredible facilities. I thought I’d hate it but we were there for a month and had the time of our lives with the children. I was making up for lost time as I am away six months of the year. So I’d like to do something like that again.

- Matthew Gilsenan is one of The Celtic Tenors and their new album Feels Like Homeis available in Tesco. They play Rathgar church, Dublin, on Friday next

In conversation with GENEVIEVE CARBERY